We have this system at home, and Daddy Sean insists we do it: He will only speak to Baby J in Mandarin, while the rest of us at home can speak to him in English or Hokkien dialect. Sean is very consistent, and may only slip in a sentence or two of English with Baby J. This way, Baby J will hopefully be able to converse comfortably in two languages as he grows up.
In Singapore, we’ve observed that many young ones are unable to converse fluently in Mandarin. It’s not necessarily a problem, but we want to encourage Baby J to be comfortable with Mandarin. Many young ones cite being uncomfortable with Mandarin and are often not comfortable with it. In fact, many parents hold certain misconceptions about their children learning two languages. Hopefully, this article will clear it up.
Baby J is only 14 months old, so it may be a little too early to tell. But we have observed that when we give him the same instructions in English and Mandarin, he is able to perform the same actions. For example, I will tell Baby J, “Give this (toy) to papa.” And on another occasion, Daddy Sean will say, “来，这个拿过去给妈咪！(Give this to mummy.)” Both times, Baby J will take the item from our hands and pass it over to me or Sean.
We are still working to expand Baby J’s vocabulary in both languages, but so far so good! As long as Sean keeps up with speaking in Mandarin with him, I foresee this will work out pretty well. 🙂 We are also intending to introduce Chinese books to him when he is ready. (As in, not destroying them!) 😛
All the best in raising bilingual children! 🙂