any british born chinese mums out there?

(50 Posts)
yingers74 Tue 26-Oct-04 14:20:27

I am chinese but born and brought up in London and in many ways very british. I married an english bloke but was wondering how other bbcs have dealt with the subject of introducing their children to the chinese language and culture. I try to encourage my parents to speak to her in chinese and try to myself although i am not fluent.

yingers74 Tue 26-Oct-04 18:27:19

am i only one?

Miaou Tue 26-Oct-04 18:39:31

Hi yingers, this is probably of no help at all but you looked so lonely talking to yourself here....

My cousin (his mum is my uncle's second wife) has a Chinese father, who he never lived with (or they split up when he was tiny, I think). His mum was unable to give him any "Chinese" background and he saw his dad only rarely. He is now in his mid-twenties and from being 17 or so went to visit his grandparents in Hong Kong (they are Chinese), and now has a pretty good grasp of the language, so much so that he is studying Business and Chinese at Uni and spending his year out in China. So despite the lack of Chinese input in his early years he has truly embraced his roots. HTH!

marsup Tue 26-Oct-04 20:54:22

Hello yingers - sounds like there aren't many Chinese Brits on mumsnet. I'm half Chinese, and living in UK, if that helps, but I'm of Australian nationality. I'm afraid my (Chinese origin) father doesn't speak his own (Cantonese) childhood language so I know not a word. (It's also a bit complicated because my mum is German and my husband is French. The extended family looks a bit like the United Nations.) When I was at school in Australia, where there are a lot of Chinese people, most of the kids of Chinese origin used to spend their Saturdays at Cantonese classes (and their Sundays at Bible readings - the poor kids didn't get much free time at all). I guess this is one option...

yingers74 Tue 26-Oct-04 21:20:55

marsup and miaou - tah for your input, yes it was a bit lonely on this thread, LOL

marsup - i did go to classes myself but i used to hate them as they meant tests on weekends!

Pam70 Thu 04-Nov-04 14:48:09

Hi Yingers

I'm Chinese but Malaysian by nationality and have been living in the UK for 11 years. DH is Irish and have DS (3 yrs) and DD (8 weeks).

Like you, I'm not fluent in Chinese but have tried to introduce DS to the Chinese language (what little of it I have) through videos (although he prefers Cbeebies).

I'm in Belfast and I know there are Chinese classes held at several schools here at the weekends but DS is still too young for those classes.

For a bit of Chinese culture, I've taken DS to Malaysia with me for a month every year since he was born - where he's force-fed rice and noodles daily

I think I'm quite resigned to the fact that DS and DD will grow up more Irish than Chinese.

csa Thu 04-Nov-04 21:05:27

hi yingers, same as pam. chinese malaysian. dh english. i made a promise to myself when ds was born (he's now 2.5) that i will try and speak to him in chinese some of the time so he will get accustom to it. but, alas, i have been very bad at being regular about it. problem is i have found speaking in chinese to myself (as ds doesn't response i guess) rather awkward. but that's probably because english is my first language. i will have to try and be more regular from now. apparently, children up to the age of 4/5 can pick up languages very easily if they are exposed to the language during this time. and it also makes a difference if this language is spoken to them face to face or if it is exposed to them through the tele for instance. they lose most of this ability by the time they are 7/8 if not used.

Pam70 Sat 06-Nov-04 13:02:53

Hi csa - whereabouts in the UK are you? And where in Malaysia are you from?



csa Sun 07-Nov-04 19:45:22

hi pam,cambridge and johore. u?

yingers74 Sun 07-Nov-04 19:55:20

hi csa and pam, glad to know I am not alone. Do you plan to send her to classes? I am not sure as I used to hate going!

Pam70 Sun 07-Nov-04 20:18:01

csa - Belfast & Ipoh - have you lived here long?

Yingers - I was planning to send DS to Chinese classes - he should be old enough to go next year. I remember hating Chinese tuition in Malaysia too! - my parents arranged for a tutor to come to the house to teach my brother, my cousins and I but the tutor was what you might call "old fashioned" and he used his cane (!!) fairly frequently (on the palms only!) but it's no wonder I hated it!

I would really like DS to go for those classes as the part of UK we live in (Belfast) is not particularly multicultural and I'd like him to have some Chinese or mixed race friends while growing up. I went to boarding school here and remember being different and being treated differently by some of the other kids and don't particularly wish the same experience for my kids.

yingers74 Mon 08-Nov-04 14:49:26

may look into classes myself! Hopefully teaches will have moved on!

csa Thu 11-Nov-04 12:13:14

ahh, i remember those chinese tuition classes. but unlike pam's tutor, our tutor was a mouse and as a result, we dreadfully misbehaved throughout all the lessons and learnt ziltch! haven't thought about tuition classes for ds. maybe i should start thinking about it...

pam, been here for about 13 years now. you didn't happen to be at uni here, did you? cos' you sound very much like someone i know.......

Pam70 Thu 11-Nov-04 19:12:14

csa - yes I did go to uni here but in Northern Ireland though, not England - which is how I met DH.

I assume it's the same with you?

lovinit Fri 22-Apr-05 13:01:49

Hi Yingers , I am late getting into this thread, but I am one of US ! I am BBC, totally British bred but have been in HK the past 11 years and so have managed to become fluent in the cantonese again. I have also a husband who is English, but we are both very keen for our DD who is now 19 mths old to learn cantonese especially since we are living here. We will send her to cantonese kindergarden and then take it from there.

I know that it is more difficult in the UK, but I think that it would be really helpful for you to speak to her in as much Cantonese as poss, for example instructions , jsut so that she is aware of the language and is used to hearing the tones .

Good luck !

linabolton Fri 01-Sep-06 20:49:17

I'm a BBC, married to an Englishman. Luckily, my parents spoke Cantonese to me while I was young, so I am fairly fluent speakingwise but limited reading and writing though (my parents sent me to chinese school). Anyway, I try to speak cantonese to my dd and she is picking stuff up. We are also planning to send her to chinese school once she is old enough.

Incidentally, my sister in law is Russian and her children are bilingual.

teacakes Sun 03-Sep-06 21:58:58

Hi Yingers,
I am not a BBC but came over from HKG when I was six. Hence fluent in Cantonese but not in writing or reading.

I am speaking to DD in Cantonese and so do my folks when they come to visit. DH is English so hopefully she is getting a good balance of both langs. I am very interested to see if she speaks Cantonese or English first.

How old is your DD/DS?

Veggiemummy Mon 06-Nov-06 11:40:35

hello Yingers i might be a little late for this thread. my DS is Chinese and speaks Hokkien and a little Mandarin, i am australian (we live in London) and speak very minimal mandarin. we want our son to speak mandarin and Hokkien so i speak to him in english and his dad in both his languages. however as that is really his only input (his parents and family live in australia except one sister) we are would like him to get more and i would like to improve my Mandarin. were do you live, it would be good to meet up or if you know any programs available to improve mandarin(i need a lot of improvement), were i could take my dDS along he is 14m.o. i know i may never speak mandarin fluently but would like to be able to understand more.

822tinkerbell Wed 08-Nov-06 11:45:26

Hi girls ! Would like to share my experience & dilemmas with all of you. I am a chinese from Johor Malaysia ( HI CSA !! ) and have been here for 5 years. DD is 18 mths next week and i have tried to hard to speak mandarin to her. haven't try Hakka yet coz i don't want to further confused her. She can say the odd words now and again but i realised she picks up more english words than mandarin as it's a one man show from me. DH is English, she goes to nursery fulltime for 5 days, i have no chinese friends here at all coz you can hardly find any except at the takeaways and the one and only chinese restaurant in our town and their main language is Cantonese. I was fluent in cantonese when i was young until dad (HK cantonese )passed away. Hence only fluent in mom's language -Hakka. I am on the verge of giving up as she doesn't really response to this language ex : when i say come here in mandarin she only stared at me ..but when i switched to english she practically run to me !! but i would like her to perserve her chinese roots and be able to communicate with my family when we go back for holiday. i realised i am giving up coz i found myself speaking more english to her than mandarin now. Such a shame.

snowmum Sun 19-Nov-06 22:49:59

Hi Veggiemummy and 822Tinkerbell, there are a couple of threads under the Multicultural page for chinese mums. See you there!

lilmissnoodles Thu 07-Dec-06 00:42:14

Hi there all,

Im a BBc, have a little boy who's 3, and speak to him in chinese (hakka/cantonese) as much as i can, but no matter how hard i try he replies in english !!
My parents spk in chinese to him, and he is picking it up.
would b nice to hear from others.

Lily xx

Tea71 Sat 25-Aug-07 12:09:57

hello, I'm new to netmums and have only just spotted this thread. I'm BBC too and a first-time mum to a 3 month old girl who I speak to in cantonese. I'm finding it quite fun, even though my cantonese isn't great, but fluent enough for her - any words I'm unsure of, I'll look up on an online dictionary.

My husband is half-french, half-scottish, brought up in France, so he speaks to her in french.

I'm aware that when I return to work and she starts nursery, english will be dominant.
We have a couple of French cartoon DVDs. And I'm keen to know where to buy cantonese cartoon DVDs (like Maisy the MOuse) and cantonese children songs from - does anyone know?? (I live in London, UK)

slng Sat 25-Aug-07 18:54:14

I'm from Malaysia and mandarin-speaking, so don't know where to get cantonese DVDs (also I don't have any Chinese DVDs at all!) but have you tried Charing Cross library? Whereabouts in London are you?

cookiemon Thu 30-Aug-07 20:56:13

Hello, I am from HK and my husband is French. I have been speaking exclusively Cantonese to my dd until she was 1. She is now 17 months and I have been speaking mostly English to her as I don't want her to feel left out when she is in playgroups. I know they can pick up english easily but I am still a little worried that it might have some pychological impact on her if she hasn't a clue what's going on around her.

I do speak cantonese to her, especially when i come across words that she'd learned in cantonese. I also play some cantonese cartoons (Doraemon-Ding Dong, Heidi, Creamy Mami,and she loves Ding Dong, though she still a little too young to pay full attention to the cartoons. Just wanna get her more familar with the Cantonese tones, so she can pick up easily when I starts to teach her. She does recognise the difference btwn cantonese, french, and english and she turned her head quickly once she heard someone speaking Cantonese on the street.

Tea71, has some cantonese childrens songs

you can also find some cantonese cartoons/animations, including Noddy, some disney cartoons, baby einstein, but they don't have maisy in cantonese.

I got my dvds from HK 'cos my sister flies here often as she's a flight attendent. =) lucky me! I live in Epsom/Ewell. whereabout in London do you live?

slng Fri 31-Aug-07 08:58:06

Cookiemon - I live in Ealing and work near Staines. Not all that far away from Epsom, traffic permitting!

I'm the other way round from you - I speak Mandarin exclusively to the kids and DS1 replies sometimes in Mandarin sometimes in English. But DH is English and nursery is English, so I don't worry about English acquisition. It's maintaining Chinese that I worry about. I don't get DVDs but parents send me lots of Chinese books, I make some myself, and we borrow from Charing Cross Library. Are you planning to send DD to Chinese school? (I know it's a bit early to ask!)

Tea71 - I found this in another post:

Also a very cute site:

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