Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mandarin for Babies

My husband and I both speak Mandarin, although we usually modify that phrase with a very heavy dose of qualifiers. It's a tough language to get really good at unless you're immersed in it. While we often speak Mandarin (or rather, our version of it) to each other, I'm fairly shy about using it out in the world. We do have opportunities to speak the language on a regular basis, but it is all too easy to slip back into English, so that's mostly what we do.

We were at a party the other night and someone asked about the language that is spoken in the orphanage. It is Mandarin, of course (although English is widely spoken in Taiwan so it is not a problem for English speakers to navigate the country), so this person was very astute in thinking that the sounds and rhythms of the language might be soothing to our little guy when we bring him home. Hubby and I have more than enough grasp of the language to talk baby talk (e.g. "Are you hungry?", "Are you thirsty", "What do you want?" as well as the more advanced, "No, you cannot take the car tonight! Go do your homework!"), but we're still brushing up on our Mandarin. Not only is it a good language for us to know, we'd love for our child to become bilingual (or possibly even trilingual - Parla Italiano?) and it's soooo much easier to learn a foreign language when you're young than it is once you reach a certain age (and by that I mean once you've reached high school ;-).

There are some fantastic resources for learning Mandarin on the web. One of our favorites is Chinese Pod. Their approach is practical and entertaining with lessons for every level covering tons of topics. Hao ma?


Judy said...

we need to practice together :)
Maybe Steve will learn more quickly too.


shelley said...

we have been practicing for 2 yrs and don't have much of a grasp. I think I will try Chinese pod more often.

Sherry said...

I use phrases with Kobi everyday (Mandarin) but I was surprised to learn so many differences in Chinese vs Taiwanese. I didnt understand most Taiwanese people actually. Maybe its the whole accent thing? Who knows... I cant understand people from England either:) LOL!

R... said...

This cracks me up! Yes, the accent is a little different in Taiwan as well as in various regions of China. My laoshi (teacher) was from Beijing which is considered to have the "standardized" accent, but there are some idiosyncrasies that take some getting used to. Once you figure out the differences between "standardized" Mandarin and whatever accent you're hearing, it gets easier, but still not easy. :-) Oh, and Taiwanese (as opposed to Mandarin with a Taiwanese accent) is totally different from Mandarin, so I won't even attempt that!