multilingual or not multilingual, that is the question

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There comes a time when parents of a mutli-cultured baby will ask them selves, should I teach my baby both languages and cultures?

Before we came to an answer, we first weighed the usual pros and cons.

Should we teach her English and Cantonese-Chinese?
My wife only speaks English, and I speak English and Cantonese (a dialect of Chinese). Pros: our baby will be able to communicate with her Asian grandparents. Cons: my wife will feel left out of conversations when my parents visit. Conclusion: we only spoke English around the baby, and allow her to watch Kai-Lan (similar to Dora the Explorer, but in Mandarin-Chinese) Believe it or not, it is very hard to find materials on Cantonese to learn... even kids TV shows are in Mandarin. We are leaving this one to chance.

Should we expose the baby to both cultures?
Pros: our baby will be of course multi-cultural. Cons: a lot more work for us and the baby. Conclusion: the baby will learn both cultures and be a smart butt baby when she grows up. We rather our baby know both sides of both our cultures, backgrounds, and up-bringings so that she will have a better chance of integrating with both side while she is growing up. Over the years I have heard so many heart saddening stories of blasian teens having to choose one side of their culture because only one side would accept them. Usually the asian teens will not acknowledge the blasian teens.

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Ivy's picture

As a Blasian, I wish I was more exposed to my Korean culture as I was growing up. It couldn't be helped since my parents divorced and I lived with my dad full time. At the very least, I wish I knew the language, even a little bit. I was basically helpless in Korea without my mom to translate. ^^;;

I think that there's a high chance that a Blasian child will want to explore their ethnic background, as far as going to the country of their relatives' birth. Teaching him/her some basics of their culture will be extremely helpful should that time come. If not that, it's a great trait to have for career opportunities. Also, I feel teaching about both sides will make the child feel whole.