I brought many Chinese books to New Zealand actually, and used some books to teach my older son, but my husband did not agree. Children are smart. When my son saw his father’s reaction, he told me that “Mum, I don’t want to learn Chinese.”, then I asked him to learn 5 Chinese characters each day, and write down each character once. You know, it’s actually very easy, I mean it doesn’t take the child too much time, and after that he could go to have fun. However, my husband thought that I was forcing my child, and he believed our child won’t go back to China, so it is unnecessary to learn Chinese here. Then I thought: what a good chance to let my child learn two languages! Two years later, my son knew some simple Chinese characters, but without the good environment to practice, it’s difficult for him to know many Chinese characters.
A: Now it seems it is a trend that people can speak multiple languages. What I mainly consider is her future. I don’t know how this society will develop, but I guess the skills and knowledge will still be needed in the future. If my daughter can speak more than one language, she can not only benefit from it, but she can also help others. For example, my daughter met an elderly lady who asked her for directions, the lady spoke Chinese to my daughter as my daughter looks exactly like a Chinese person. However, my daughter’s Chinese was not good enough to help her, so she called me to ask me to help that lady. Then the lady said that my daughter is a “banana person”, as the skin of her is yellow, but inside of her, it’s white.
Q: Do you think “banana person” is a positive or negative expression?
A: I don’t know. Maybe that elderly lady thought it was a pity, as many Chinese people who were born overseas forget their culture. Maybe she was sad about it, she did not mean to judge. I think I am a Chinese no matter where I go or live.
I think we should not forget who we are and where we came from. No matter what extra languages we speak, we cannot forget our heritage language and our original identity.