Korean daughter 1

      Korean daughter 1 - child quote 1 - My Recording

Q: Do you sometimes speak Korean between you and your brothers?

A: Only when I’m around my parents so they understand what I’m saying. Especially if it’s an involved conversation where everyone needs to hear like, an opinion.

      Korean daughter 1 - child quote 2 - My Recording

There’s a lot of miscommunication between me and my parents through the Korean language. Cos I know only a little bit and they know a lot, and so if they say something I can’t really express myself completely. So it can be very frustrating at times.

      Korean daughter 1 - child quote 3 - My Recording

You can share secrets or like, say how you really feel on like, a topic or discussion. And you kind of get each other’s opinions. Cos it’s kind of like a small group secret thing [the Korean language].

      Korean daughter 1 - child quote 4 - My Recording

Whenever I talk to my grandma it’s always very basic Korean; it’s always like: “How’s the weather there?”. Cos I don’t really know how to like, have a conversation with somebody who knows so much more than me.

So it would always be in Korean, just the simple kind of Korean talk. It pushes me out of my box though, cos like, you’re kind of forced into the position where you have to speak Korean as well as you can cos you know she’s like – my grandma’s like, going to be full Korean. Nothing about English, so whenever I use ‘Konglish’ [Korean-English] it’s really confusing for her.

      Korean daughter 1 - child quote 5 - My Recording

When I went there [to Korea] I went with really high expectations. I was disappointed in the end, cos at the time I didn’t feel like I belonged to my ‘White’ friends or my ‘Asian’ friends, so I thought if I went back I’d feel this connection cos they’re all Asian. But then I felt more disconnected than I was here. Cos if I tried to do something simple, like buying something, there’d always be that kind of… there’s a language you have to speak and sometimes they ask you unexpected questions… Yeah. And I didn’t have any friends there as well. It’s kind of hard to make friends when you don’t really speak the language comfortably as well.

      Korean daughter 1 - child quote 6 - My Recording

[Talking about Korean school, in Christchurch] I went there for around four or five years, but I never got anything out of it. Maybe I did but I don’t really recall, of myself, ever thinking: “Oh I learnt something new today in class” or like, feeling proud of myself there. Yeah it was kind of just like a very forced experience which made me kind of dislike my language like, I didn’t want to learn it.

      Korean daughter 1 - child quote 7 - My Recording

A: [Talking about advice for other teenagers like her] I would say don’t give up on your own country’s language. It’s a really good advantage, you don’t see it at the start – I didn’t see it at the start. I kind of thought: “I don’t need this language”, but then as you end up having more opportunities to get to know people who speak your own language, you end up finding some kind of like… a lot more communication. So stick with both languages.

Q: If you have a child in the future, would like to teach them how to speak the Korean language?

A: I wouldn’t be any good at it! But I’d still want them to know the basics. Just so that they can communicate with my family. It’s a good thing I think.

      Korean daughter 1 - child quote 8 - My Recording

If I look at myself in the mirror, I’d be Asian. And then if I speak, and if I come out not being able to speak my own language, I’d be like: “What? I’m from this place but I don’t even know how to speak it”. And I’d feel quite disrespectful in a way as well – to my own country. And so there’s a bit of an identity crisis where you kind of doubt yourself in a way: “Should I just stick to being like… having that kind of ‘White’ personality? That ‘White’ upbringing? Or should I try to have that relationship with the country I belong to?”

      Korean daughter 1 - child quote 9 - My Recording

A: I had a lot of encounters with other… ‘White’ people – Oh I hate calling them that! I’ll just call them ‘White’ people anyway… umm… I had a lot of encounters when I was in primary school with ‘White’ people from different schools, who dissed me because of the fact I was Asian. And I felt quite a lot of hatred towards them because I grew up thinking I belonged to this country, yet a lot of people that belonged to this country treated me differently because of the way I looked. It’d be that kind of thing which would really hurt me back then. And I kind of felt like: “Oh I hate this country! I’m gonna go to Korea!”. Yeah. Like, I felt quite disconnected.

Q: But later on you went to Korea and you felt…

A: I felt MORE disconnected! [Laughs] Yeah… I was just like: “Oh where do I belong?!”.

Korean daughter 1

      Korean daughter 1 - parent quote 1 - My Recording

A: On the Korean school side, I think it’s not as important to someone like me living here. Because I don’t have to take any tests in Korean, and if I can speak it I think it’s ok. As long as I’m able to communicate with my parents. But then I feel like when I was put there [in Korean school] to learn in that way, instead of actually using it around Korean people, I learnt way less than I could have. I found that if I read Korean manga or just something enjoyable, I learnt way more out of it. And even watching drama… yeah, I learnt way more from it. Especially for language: applying it is the most important.

Q: So if someone like you, born in New Zealand Korean, they want to maintain their Korean language, what is the best way, do you think?

A: Having their parents speaking it to them, even if they don’t understand it. I think that’s the best way to do it. You just pick up on it, randomly.

Q: Especially when you are motivated.

A: Yeah!

      Korean daughter 1 - parent quote 2 - My Recording

[Talking about advice for other Korean parents] I’d say that you shouldn’t abuse one language. You should evenly share out two languages… or even just focus on your own language. It wouldn’t affect their education, that’s what I believe. Cos they’d end up learning English outside, at school, and then when they come back home, like I said, the amount of parent time you’d speak your own language is very short. So it wouldn’t completely fade away your English language ability.

Korean daughter 1

      Korean daughter 1 - professional quote 1 - My Recording

Q: A recent government report said immigrant parents should speak English at home all the time so that their children could learn English better. How do you feel about that? If your parents spoke English at home, maybe all the time, do you think your English language proficiency would be improved?

A: I don’t think it would make much of a difference. Cos I reckon, even at home, the amount you communicate with your parents at home compared to the amount you communicate in English to people outside of home is way bigger than usual. Cos your parents have work. And I think if that happened – if my parents spoke more English than Korean – my Korean would just die away. Cos they’re the main source of Korean I use.

Chinese mother 2

      Chinese mother 2 - parent quote 1

As a mother, I gave her life. I was determined to teach my child to speak Chinese partly for my benefit, as it would facilitate our emotional communication and daily life communication. Besides, I believe it will help her future life as well.

      Chinese mother 2 - parent quote 2

I always respect my daughter, and in fact she decided to learn Chinese when she was five. At that time, I went to China quite often to visit my parents. I have a good friend whose daughter is one year older than mine. Every time when I went back to China, she would pick us up, and drive us to visit many places and had fun. My friend’s daughter was around 6 at that time, and studied in a local kindergarten. Once, my friend picked us up to hang out, my friend and I sat in the front seats, and our daughters sat in the back seats. My friend’s daughter started to read out when she saw the shopping malls’ names or the billboard. Then my daughter asked her “Why do you know all of these? Why can’t I read them out?”. My friend’s daughter answered “I learned them”, then my daughter said to herself “I learned Chinese in New Zealand too, but I don’t know the characters at all.” So my daughter said to me “Mum, I need to come to China to learn Chinese!” I asked her whether she decided or not, she said “yes”, then I respected her. So when she was 6, I took her to China to learn Chinese. I believe my child is so endurable and insistent, and I won’t forget that experience in my rest of my life. I also believe as long as my daughter has made the decision, she will achieve it.

      Chinese mother 2 - parent quote 3

Sometimes I feel really sad, as I heard some people saying “Learning Chinese is not important any more, as we live in an English society.” I think it is a big loss for Chinese who is unable to speak Chinese. I also heard some parents saying” Do not speak two languages with your children, they will feel confused, and speak slowly.” I just want to say this kind of thought is really unwise. I can’t say everyone has the same situation, but take my close friends and my children for example, bilingual education won’t confuse children at all! My daughter knew how to pronounce “grandma” in Chinese when she was 7 months old, and knew Chinese pronunciation of “dad” when she was around 8 months old. She can speak many words when she was 11 months old.

Chinese mother 2

      Chinese mother 2 - professional quote 1

Q: As she needs to learn several languages, do you think it influences her schooling? I mean learning languages occupies her time.

A: I believe learning a language happens in daily life, you can learn it in every moment. So I don’t think there is a conflict between learning a second or third language and schooling.

Dutch daughter 1

      Dutch daughter 1 - child quote 1

Q: Growing up as a bilingual child in New Zealand. What was that like?

A: Now I really like it. Firstly, I can easily chat with all my family in the Netherlands. And yes, they know English too but it is more fun to just speak their own language. And also, it also helped me to learn French. I found that very easy as well.

      Dutch daughter 1 - child quote 2

Q: What influence do other Dutch people in NZ have on the fact that you speak Dutch? Or are there other Dutch people with whom you speak Dutch sometimes?

A: Yes indeed! Two of my best friends are Dutch and with one of them I always speak Dutch and with one I always speak English. That’s really very strange! The one I speak most Dutch to, she had come here when she was 12. But she also knew English well. But for us… The first time we met was when she had just been here for a few months and then I spoke Dutch to her because her English was not that good and I also felt sorry for her because she had trouble with the change. And then I did not see her for a long time and then I saw her again in the first year of university. And because we spoke Dutch the first time around we automatically spoke Dutch to each other again. And when someone else is with us then we really have to speak English otherwise it would be a bit antisocial. And that feels very strange [speaking English to her]. But the other friend, that one I had met at secondary school together with a lot of other girls and therefore we spoke English to each other. Yes, now we still speak English to each other.

      Dutch daughter 1 - child quote 3

Q: And how often do you go to The Netherlands?

A: We go… Yes first we went every four years. And the past six years we went every three years back. And I went by myself without my father or mother. Just on my own, I went back to the Netherlands.

Q: And no problem at all to function immediately in Dutch?

A: No, no. My cousins laugh sometimes because I say something wrong and don’t use the right word. But on the whole things are fine. I have no problems.

Q: And you don’t mind at all that you make a mistake now and then, you just continue to speak Dutch?

A: Yes. Oh certainly! Certainly. It would not stop me. I find it annoying and I immediately ask: “Oh, what should I have said?” or “How do you say that in Dutch?” I also sometimes ask my parents. Because I want to know. I really want to learn. But. It does not stop me because I prefer to talk to them in Dutch rather than in English.

      Dutch daughter 1 - child quote 4

Q: Why do you think your parents raised you bilingually?

A: Eh. Well I think… For them it was not really a conscious decision because they spoke Dutch to each other naturally. And Dutch to us, simply because it was the easiest for them. And yes we… because they have their own business, a farm really, so we were always just at home and we did not have that much contact with other people to speak English with. They also thought, I think, that it would be nice if we could… yes talk to my granny and my family in The Netherlands. So they would like that very much too, I think. Yes… They also knew that you can easily learn two languages as a child, you know. It’s not nearly that easy when you are older and have to learn a language. So they just thought, they started speaking Dutch to each other, and we then learned it as a matter of course and they thought that was great.

      Dutch daughter 1 - child quote 5

Q: One more point. Do you regret anything? In growing up bilingually?

A: I regret a bit that I did not keep it up better when I was younger. Especially between the ages of 6 to 11. Because I notice now that although I speak reasonably fluent Dutch, I still always use the same expressions and yes I a bit… I don’t know how to say this –limited- sometimes.

And that is the age when you learn those sorts of things and I could have if I wanted to because my parents still spoke Dutch to me. And I did have the books and the videos. But at that time I just, well, dropped it a bit. So I regret that somewhat.

Dutch daughter 1

      Dutch daughter 1 - parent quote 1

Q: What would you advise to parents when they get children: raising them bilingually or not? And if bilingually, how can one do that most successfully?

A: Well, I would certainly say raise bilingually, because for me… it had no negatives. It is only positive. And I love it. And yes, when you are a child you learn quickly.

And… how. I don’t quite know. I would say, yes most of all speak to them in that language. especially when they are young, that they most hear the language. And yes, perhaps… It is difficult as a child I think… my sister had a lot of problems with it: “What’s the use? I live in New Zealand after all? So if you can get it across to them that it is important and something great to have, than they will be more inclined to learn two languages. While if they think: “What is the point, it’s no use.” Then probably not.

Dutch daughter 1

      Dutch daughter 1 - professional quote 1

Q: How has that bilingualism, that Dutch influenced your English at school, do you think? Or did it have no effect?

A: Yes that’s a bit difficult to… for me, to figure out. For example when I… I went to preschool before I went to primary school and there, for the first year, I did not want to speak at all. I did not say a word. And the teacher there was rather worried and told my parents: “You really have to take her to a speech and language therapist.” And my parents said: “Nonsense! At home she never stops! There she rattles on!” But I don’t know if that was simply because I was shy. Because I was very shy when I was a little child. Or because I did not know the language well.

But when I had a friend at preschool, then I just rattled on in English so I had no problem. Yes I have no idea what caused it. [not speaking for a year at preschool].

Dutch mother 1

      Dutch mother 1 - parent quote 1 - Teacher

When they [her children] have been in Belgium or The Netherlands, well then they rattle on in Dutch. Then it suddenly… then it surfaces and they are really fluent. With errors of course. You always hear that they are not really native speakers. They are obviously English speakers, but fluent [in Dutch]. After those two weeks.

      Dutch mother 1 - parent quote 2 - Teacher

When my eldest daughter was born and that was not in The Netherlands but in Italy, I spoke only Dutch to her. So she was my Dutch speaking eldest daughter. Then two years later we had a boy and until he was 2 I spoke Dutch with him and my husband English. But he read Dutch books aloud as well: ‘Jip en Janneke’ [a classic Dutch book] for instance… and this oldest boy told his father: “You’ve got a bad voice for Dutch Dad!” And he was not allowed to speak Dutch any longer.

And that was very difficult because from then on we switched more and more to English. And by the time my third child appeared the home language had become English. So though we had intended to bring up the children with Mum: Dutch, Dad: English… by the time my youngest daughter was born it did not happen at all. It was purely English. She spoke English to siblings, to me, to her father. Dutch was not used.

      Dutch mother 1 - parent quote 3 - Teacher

When she was 4 we went for quite some time to Belgium and there she heard people speak Dutch, daily, and she spoke it herself with granny and aunt and uncle. With them she could speak Dutch. So there Dutch appeared again.

Then we tried to keep that up when we came back home, but within a week it was all English again. There were no Dutch friends in New Zealand. There was no input from outside the family. Nothing at all. The only input was when we went back to Belgium.

      Dutch mother 1 - parent quote 4 - Teacher

Family was incredibly important. Not only for speaking with when we are there but also because I have a wonderful sister who sends books. My mother always sent books, my sister always sent books. And not only paper books but when the older children were little we had those little cassette tapes… so endless listening to Fairy tale series. And later we had videos. A huge amount in Dutch. And later we had DVDs and also computer games. So the children had a large amount of computer games in Dutch.

      Dutch mother 1 - parent quote 5 - Teacher

I regret we did not continue to speak Dutch at home. Today my eldest son, who put a stop to it all in the family that is also his biggest regret, that we did not continue to speak Dutch. So that is something to recommend to other people. If you don’t speak Dutch because one parent does not speak the language for instance or because the children put their foot down and refuse… you can always bring Dutch in through the back door. So read aloud. Read aloud all the time. Read books, give books to the children to read. Give films. And when you watch an English film , do so with Dutch subtitles. So they can learn it that way. Nowadays there is so much… computer games. The Internet…

      Dutch mother 1 - parent quote 6 - Teacher

A: Parents who come here… they see this environment and then try as fast as they can… Yes we want to be New Zealanders, we must speak English… and our children must speak with a Kiwi accent” and our language drops away”.

And you have children who refuse. Because they don’t want to be different from the other children at school. And it could be a reason to be unhappy… so the parents will say: “Ok we will switch to English because we don’t want to disadvantage the children. They must not be unhappy at school because of being different.” So that is another reason why parents don’t transmit the language.

And yes, sometimes it is simply easier not to. Especially if one of the parents does not speak Dutch. So those are all valid reasons why the language is not passed on.

Q: Because sometimes people don’t even think about it. It is an automatic process.

A: Yes.

Q: Isn’t it. The children come home from school… they have done everything in English that day and even though you have spoken Dutch in the morning… they come home and continue in English. There are English friends and you cannot be impolite. So you have to speak English… the friends go home and you simply continue in English.

A: Yes exactly, it comes automatically.

Dutch mother 1

      Dutch mother 1 - professional quote 1 - Teacher

I think that the fact that the children… although they did not normally speak Dutch, but that they learned Dutch… that cognitively it was very good for them. All four have… do their university studies at A, A+ level. Very well… and they were good at school… and I believe that is thanks to being bilingual. My father used to say that learning languages was “good gymnastics for the brain” And I am sure that because the children went from Dutch to English and back again… read a book in one language, and in the other language… that that was very good for their cognition.

      Dutch mother 1 - professional quote 2 - Teacher

I fear a lot of people still think: “Oh now we are in a new country and now we have to speak English.” And I have seen that even with people my age and I see it with parents of other language communities who come to me as ESOL tutor: “Shouldn’t we speak English with our children at home?” And it is not always easy to convince them: “No, continue to speak Korean or Dutch or whatever at home. That English will come at school.” Many parents appear to think: “Now we are here we have to speak exclusively English.” I fear this is still the case although things are much better now than 20 years ago.

But I have also seen that some teachers, primary school teachers at school, see those children who come from elsewhere as a problem. Then they come to an ESOL tutor like me and say: “No wonder the child cannot keep up, they speak Chinese at home.” And I think “Those teachers have not quite kept up with new developments. It isn’t because the child speaks Mandarin or Korean at home… It is not bad for them”. But when some parents get feedback like this from the class teacher… they no longer know what to do. They will believe the teacher and try to [speak English at home]… so then you get broken English as a home language. So the children lose their heritage language, but don’t get English either. Very sad.

      Dutch mother 1 - professional quote 3 - Teacher

We have three sons. The eldest spoke most Dutch as I spoke Dutch to him. Then it became a problem. When he went to childcare centre he already spoke Dutch as we had been back to the Netherlands. He spoke in full sentences. He went to childcare centre and the teachers there did not understand him. And he wet his pants because he had to go to the toilet and they did not understand. He cried and he cried. Look, then you think… and I was in the play centre and the supervisor said it was impolite of me to speak Dutch.