Bilingual Parenting Myth #1: CBCs can't teach Chinese
How many of you CBC/ABC parents out there feel this way? 🙋🏻♀️
I was born in Hong Kong and went to school there for a couple years (aka mostly a "native speaker"), and even I *too* felt this way when my eldest was born, because English was my dominant language.
Now that I'm kinda "on the other side", with a 3yo child who somewhat willingly speaks back to me in Cantonese (😬), I'm here to tell you...
YOU 👏 CAN 👏 DO 👏 IT 👏
...yes, even if you're not "fluent". Or you think you barely know any words. Or that you're a "jook sing".
When it comes to bilingual parenting, ppl worry they need to be able to hold complex conversations in Chinese with their infants in order to start. When in fact, you really just have to start with a few simple words/phrases for stuff like... food, poop, and play lol
Toddler speak—fortunately—isn't very sophisticated, so you can start slow and totally learn alongside your children!
& yes, it is awkward at first... not gunna lie. I know this first hand. But like any skill, I *promise* you it does get easier with more use.
You'd be surprised by how quickly you see results too! I started "late", and only started speaking Chinese to my eldest when he was ~18mo (remember: I didn't think I could pass Chinese down to him!). By 24mo tho, he was already saying some Chinese words back.
Our family isn't exceptional. There are many families I personally know who did this even when the parents aren't fluent or literate.
In fact, these same families were the very ones who made me realize this was all possible, and whose experience inspired me to start my own bilingual parenting journey!
And I really, really, really want to let you know that you can too 💕