Skip to content
Advertisements

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

December 18, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 2.53.26 PM

I wanted to leave everyone with something fun for the holidays. If you’ve got additions, please email them to me. I’m always looking for new examples to add.

  • 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-Mandarin immersion friends may not know what’s inside.
  • 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.
  • 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 know what Yellowbridge.com and Place are and how to use them.
  • 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.
  • 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 and there are Chinese language radio stations programmed onto your radio.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Notes for those who may not be as immersed as some of us in the whole immersion thing just yet.

  • 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.
    • Gongxi Gongxi (literally “Congratulations! Congratulations!” is a popular song about the New Year that many students learn in MI classes.
  • You forget that “hongbao” is not an English word, and that non-Mandarin immersion friends may not know what’s inside.
    • A hongbao is a red envelop. At Chinese New Year, and also on other holidays, children get presents of money in an auspicious red envelope. You can see an example at the top of this blog post.
  • 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.
  • 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 know what Yellowbridge.com and Place are and how to use them.
    • Yellowbridge is a popular Chinese dictionary program online. Pleco is a stand-alone dictionary app.
  • You have strong preferences in moon cakes types, and know how to answer the question “One egg yolk, two or none?”
    • Moon cakes are eaten during the Autumn Festival and huge stacks of the metal boxes that hold them will start to appear in Chinese markets in the weeks before as they’re popular gifts.  They’re very rich, usually filled with red bean or lotus seed paste (kind of like marzipan) and they typically come with either one or two salted, preserved duck egg yolk. You eat them in little slices, a little sweet with a little savory, and drink tea in between bites. They’re quite wonderful, though admittedly an acquired taste. When buying them, look at the label on the side carefully because there are other types as well, including nuts and melon (which to my mind taste like old fruitcake.)
  • Your kid says “I have to fuxi for my kaoshi, but after that I’m done with my gongke” and you understand her.
    • Translation: I have to study for my test, but after that I’m done with my homework.
  • 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 and you’ve got Chinese radio stations programmed into your radio.
  • 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.
  • Other parents dream of Harvard and UCLA. You find yourself considering the relative merits of Beijing University and Tsinghua University.
    • Respectively, the Harvard and MIT of China.
Advertisements
One Comment leave one →
  1. December 20, 2017 7:10 am

    So true. As I was reading this list it made me smile. MI parents might also use
    Chinese words while speaking to a relative without noticing it. You offer to teach the whole family sheng ri kuai le so they know both English and Chinese version. Shèngdàn kuàilè!
    xīnnián kuàilè!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: