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You know you’re a Mandarin immersion parent* when….

November 17, 2013

I got some fun new additions from Los Angeles. Keep ’em coming…


  • When the birthday cake comes out at a party, you start singing “Ju ni sheng ri kuai le” and then quickly realize everyone else is singing “Happy Birthday To You.”


  • When you reach into your purse for Kleenex, you come out with a handful of flashcards.


  • You have seriously considered moving to another state for a Mandarin immersion program.


  • All the CDs in your car are in Chinese.


  • When you are ridiculously excited that your child can read some of the characters on the back of the hot sauce bottle at a Chinese restaurant.


  • When your child runs up to anyone who looks even remotely Asian and starts up a conversation in Mandarin.


  • Your third grader is starting to lose it over homework so you offer to race him looking up characters by stroke order. You beat him.


  • You learned to belt out the entire chorus of “Gong Xi Gong Xi” or “Liang Zhi Lao Hu” long before you could say basic phrases in Chinese.


  • You forget that “hongbao” is not an English word, and that non-Chinese or MI friends may not know what’s inside.


  • You are instinctively wary of dumplings around Chinese New Year, due in part to years of overconsumption, and in part to an unfortunate coin-biting incident.


  • You know what is and you know how to use it.


  • You have strong preferences in moon cakes types, and know how to answer the question, “One egg yolk, two or none?”


  • Your kid says “I have to fuxi for my kaoshi, but after that I’m done with my gongke” and you understand her.


  • You know who the biggest K-pop stars are and have their songs, with Chinese subtitles, bookmarked on your computer.


  • You own more Chinese dictionaries than English dictionaries.


  • You can explain to a kindergarten parent what a measure word is, and get it right.


  • You can pick out your child’s handwriting on the bulletin board outside his classroom, even though the papers are all in Chinese.


  • You forget that in most schools teachers will speak to you in English when there are kids around.


  • You discover that your middle schooler has figured out that Siri on the iPhone can speak Mandarin. Her class is now speaking their essays into the phone and letting Siri write them out, then going in and cleaning up the characters Siri got wrong. You can’t figure out if this is cheating or a brilliant use of the technology.


  • Other parents dream of Harvard and UCLA. You find yourself considering the relative merits of Beijing University and Tsinghua University.


*A non-Chinese speaking MI parent, that is.

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