French daughter 1

      French daughter 1 - child quote 1

I never called my dad “Dad”, it was always “Papa”. And when I would go to France and come back here I was like “Papa, we’re speaking French now! Not English!”. I think it was a bit harder for my brothers because there was less time to read in French with mum, and boys yell and all of that. And with my dad who doesn’t speak French it was just more and more English. But I think that even when I was very young I liked words and languages and all of that. I loved reading books. Now I love languages and all of that still – like my mother! [Laughs] But my brothers are not like that. They don’t like words in the same way so I think it’s different for them.

      French daughter 1 - child quote 2

Q: When you were little do you remember your mum taking you to French groups with other children?

A: I think I really didn’t like it [those groups] because I was very shy and in French it was more umm…

Q: It was even harder?

A: Yes! [Laughs] Especially as I got older and I started to become more aware of things. It was quite a judgmental space… like, you know, some parents spoke a lot of French to their kids, and then some didn’t so much and there was quite a lot of… it wasn’t an extremely friendly sort of atmosphere I think. I mean I was really shy and anxious so that didn’t help! [Laughs]

      French daughter 1 - child quote 3

When I went to France 6 years ago – so I was 11 – I found it so much easier to speak French. It was like a switch just clicked and being in that environment with French everywhere all around you just makes such a big difference. It was just so much easier, I was just so surprised. I mean it was easy, but it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. You know sometimes I’d have to think what I’d want to say in English and then translate it, but then sometimes I could just go straight French, which was pretty cool. And then my dreams were, like, half in English half in French [laughs]. And I was on the phone with my dad and I think I started the sentence with “alors” or something like that and it was like oh! [Laughs] I caught myself. It started becoming quite natural even though I was only there for a few weeks.

      French daughter 1 - child quote 4

When I started at high school and I decided to do French as one of my subjects, writing was quite hard because I’d never really written in French. It was always reading or listening or speaking. And so that was quite different. I think… um… I’m glad that I read because otherwise I wouldn’t have known how words were spelled. I think that was quite important. So I sort of had an idea of how words looked, but writing – you know, learning the grammatical rules for writing – and all that was quite difficult. Nowadays I sort of wish that I’d done more French when I was younger because… it was… I can tell… I have an ear for it, and I wish I had more of that.

      French daughter 1 - child quote 5

I felt quite proud of, you know: “I’m half French”. That was quite… that was really nice for me, that was like, my ‘special’ thing about me. You know like, it became quite a positive thing and I think that’s quite an important thing which really helped me learn French, whereas if a child had grown up thinking that: “The French part of me isn’t as good as the English part” or you know… that would’ve made a big difference. Especially with different… um… cultures, I think… that are sort of… seen as, like… ‘inferior’ in a way. I don’t want to sound mean but you know like… I’ve got a friend who’s Chinese, and he doesn’t speak very much Chinese because he doesn’t really like that part of himself, he doesn’t like that culture and, you know, he got quite bullied…

Q: Because it’s less desirable or something?

A: Yeah. So he sort of began to resent his culture and so he really never wanted to learn Chinese or any of that. So for parents and that community to be able to celebrate their culture and all that I think it makes a big difference.

Q: Like it’s something of value…

A: Yeah, and teaching their child to be proud of their heritage and all that.

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?!”.

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.