Take the 2-minute tour ×
Parenting Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for parents, grandparents, nannies and others with a parenting role. It's 100% free, no registration required.

We have an almost 2 year old daughter and we are looking around for preschools to put her in. We are in Vancouver, Canada which has a large Chinese population and Mandarin is very common. Neither of us speak any Mandarin whatsoever.

My wife feels that our child will benefit greatly from attending an exclusively Mandarin speaking school, however I'm concerned that this will cause additional stress in the household and it may make our child feel somehow alienated.

If we do endeavor down this path, I'm confident that we will both learn the language along with our child, however neither of us is bi-lingual and I'm sure it will be a challenge. We both took the required French classes in schools, but it never really stuck for us.

Does anyone have any experience with a similar situation? What kind of hurdles are we going to need to overcome? And finally, do you think it is really worth it?

share|improve this question
2  
Have you discussed the possibility with one of the exclusively-Mandarin schools, and what was their take on it? I am curious what the perspective of educators is on the idea! –  Erica May 22 '13 at 19:50
    
Great idea. We've been trying to ask people we know, but going right to the source is probably our best bet. Thanks! –  Sean May 23 '13 at 8:58

3 Answers 3

I think it is an extremely bad idea to put a child into a school which teaches in a language you don't understand, and they have no background in. Children need help with their homework in order to do well, if it's in Mandarin how in the world would you even know if your child has even done it? And you are right to be worried about your child being alienated, it would not be a good experience!

Children in a Mandarin school are almost certainly raised in Mandarin households, and will already use it in their day to day life. Your child won't understand a word and as a result will not be able to interact with these children. It will almost certainly lead to isolation. And it won't help with academics either as the teacher won't have the time (or the inclination in many cases) to help the one non-native speaker.

Instead of being a help to your child's development I think this would be the complete opposite. You are right that people learn languages best through immersion but that is not the way to go about it.

share|improve this answer
    
Wholeheartedly agreeing. This should be the accepted answer. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 23 '13 at 6:00
    
Thanks for your feedback. I'm curious what you think "would not be a good experience"? If they are in a Mandarin immersion school, all of the children around them are learning the same thing. –  Sean May 23 '13 at 8:56
    
@Sean, see my edit. –  GdD May 23 '13 at 9:11
    
All of the research shows that raising a child bilingually is not harmful to children. I agree that this specific situation probably is not a good idea since the parents do not speak Mandarin, but the idea that the child will become isolated and unable to interact is contradicted by every study I have ever read on the topic, and I've read most of them. At 24 months the child is in an excellent age range to be exposed to additional languages since the terminal myelination point has not extended past the left temporal lobe and neural exuberance is still occurring there. –  WonkoTheSane Jun 15 '13 at 21:27
    
FWIW, it's very common for parents of children in Welsh-medium schools in South East Wales to have no, or only rudimentary Welsh. The kids do just fine. Most of my classmates when I was in Welsh-medium education had parents who did not speak Welsh themselves. –  testerab Feb 2 at 16:21

Welcome to the site, Sean!

I generally encourage learning foreign languages but it requires that the parents can participate. Don't underestimate the challenge of new languages. My personal experience is that children can learn languages nearly automatically but adults find it very difficult.

If you have a history of little or poor language learning (your French) then you will find Mandarin exceedingly difficult to learn. Even if your daughter learns Mandarin, you will not be able to support her learning and you will not understand her. This causes frustration for everybody, and your desired benefit of her learning it vanishes.

You'd be better off picking a language that you have a good chance of learning. Given that Canada is English/French bilingual, French presents itself as a good alternative.

share|improve this answer
    
You have some valuable points. We were originally thinking French immersion, but since Mandarin can be a great asset in our area we are exploring other possibilities too. Thanks! –  Sean May 23 '13 at 9:00

I think yes, because it can give more opportunities for your child in the future. Also, brain of a child is like a sponge - it absorb a lot of knowledge. So, I advice you to put a child in a preschool with a foreign language

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.