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Come full circle on bilingualism, a Mandarin speaker’s thoughts

March 19, 2013

Children and adults listen to the reading of "The Giant Glowing Dragon" during the Mandarin story hour at the Crowell Public Library in San Marino.Coming full circle on bilingualism
After rejecting her parents’ native Mandarin as a youngster, she’s come to value the connection to her roots. And she’s finding plenty of company among other young Asian Americans.

Children and adults listen to the reading of “The Giant Glowing Dragon” during the Mandarin story hour at the Crowell Public Library in San Marino. (Katie Falkenberg, Los Angeles Times / February 9, 2013)

By Cindy Chang, Los Angeles Times
March 16, 2013, 4:35 p.m.
Mandarin was my first language, but once I started school, I refused to speak it. As the only Asian kid in my class, I felt alien enough. I wasn’t about to bust out in another tongue, even in the privacy of my own home.

My parents were too laissez-faire to enforce a Chinese-only regimen, as my uncle did with my cousins. We soon switched to English instead of Chinese, forks instead of chopsticks. My mom made spaghetti for my brother and me, stir-fries and soups for my dad.

The one time I went to Saturday Chinese school, I told my parents I hated it and I wasn’t going back. That was the end of it. They never brought it up again.

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