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Introduce yourself! 介紹自己!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Andrew, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Introduce yourself in this thread - here are some suggestions:
    • What's your background?
    • How good is your Chinese?
    • How many children do you have?
    • What language would you like them to learn?
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
  2. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Hey, welcome to Mandonese! My name is Andrew Tsai. My family are originally from Taiwan, but I was born and brought up in the UK. My first language is definitely English, and I speak some Mandarin and managed to learn Cantonese more recently. I never truly felt comfortable speaking Mandarin and never really picked up reading and writing Chinese, although I hope to fix this at some point.

    I'm married to Pui-Lai who was also born in the UK, and her parents are from Hong Kong. We have a son Benjamin currently 3 years old (he's born in November 2011). I've taken a strong interest in learning Cantonese, taking some night-classes in SOAS for a year. Now that we have a son and I hear my wife speaking to him every day in Cantonese, I'm picking up a lot more as time goes on.

    Despite hundreds of millions of people speaking Cantonese, it is surprisingly difficult to find information on learning Cantonese from the perspective of an English speaker. There are hardly any resources that are easily available to us for teaching our children Cantonese too, which is why it's been so surprising to see people make their own Cantonese resources.

    I created this website because I really wanted there to be a proper place to share tips and information on teaching Mandarin and Cantonese to our children. I feel like I've learned a lot raising and teaching Benjamin Cantonese and I wanted to make sure that other people around the world going through the same thing will benefit from our experiences.

    Here's a photo of Pui-Lai and Benjamin from Chinese New Year this year in Chinatown:

    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
    Bobamama888 and Jonathan Wong like this.
  3. Diana von r

    Diana von r New Member

    Hi all. I'm Diana, parents are from Hong Kong and I was born in England. I went to Cantonese school on Saturdays, got my GCSE (A*, baby!)... But I would say that my Chinese is not great. I can speak it fairly well, but my reading and writing is awful. My main language is English. My husband is Finnish, but he speaks swedish as his first language. We have a daughter, Sofia, she is 2 (born DEC 2012). She is learning Cantonese, Swedish and English, although her English is definitely strongest. We are not very strict with OPOL.

    I currently run the PlayCantonese粵玩越學 sessions at charing cross library, 10.30-11.15am 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month

    We have registered her with a school where she can learn Mandarin as part of normal language choices when she's under 10.
    Andrew likes this.
  4. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Hi Diana thanks for registering :). Haven't been to the PlayCantonese session in Charing Cross for a long time - but it was the first one I went to back when Fiona was running the sessions. Unfortunately I think Benjamin is starting to get too restless for it now (he was born November 2011).

    Which school did you register her with - I'm really interested! It's quite early as well - I didn't even know you could register so early!
  5. Claire Martin

    Claire Martin New Member

    Hi, I am Claire. I was adopted from Hong Kong by English parents and arrived here age 2 in 1962. I went to school in Chester and now live in London. I learned Mandarin at Durham University from 1979 to 1980 and spent 1 year at the Mandarin Training Centre in Taipei. My Mandarin is really rusty so I am trying to learn it again. I am a freelance HR Director and want to advise Chinese companies in the UK combining my people expertise and my Mandarin. I also speak French and some basic Italian.
    Andrew and Jenny8022 like this.
  6. Pui-Lai

    Pui-Lai New Member

    Hi, I'm Pui-Lai and Andrew has kindly introduced us. I speak Cantonese to our son although undeniably English is my strongest language (BA in English and Philosophy). I have a keen interest in language learning (fast track GCSEs in French and German-As) and studied some Japanese also at high school. However, lately I have learnt to speak more Mandarin (to my in-laws) and enjoy the challenges and the similarities of speaking this language, sometimes for fun to our son when he requests it. I studied some Mandarin at university and completed 'certification of graduation' from Chinese School in the Northwest at the age of 12. The tricky thing I find is, as the saying goes, if you don't use it, you lose it. I would love to meet more Mandonese speaking families and love the idea of what Andrew has created here; a community for all of us who are interested in Mandarin/Cantonese learning and hope this will be an invaluable resource to all that share this same interest.
    I also studied MSc Speech and Languages from UCL - qualified Speech and Language Therapist and of course, have a strong interest in bilingualism as well as many other areas. (When I have more time I will be posting up some articles here, so watch this space!)
    Aside from all this, I also run a playgroup with lots of fun and games at Kings Cross with Helen Lee. I hope to see some new faces there (we have a couple of spaces available :) playcantonesekx@gmail.com
    Look forward to reading more introductions from all. 羊年快樂!
    Jenny8022 likes this.
  7. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Hey Claire welcome to the website! I'm also a freelancer (IT support, web consultancy) and can also speak a bit of French and Italian :). Sounds like you have a cool background. I've always wanted to do the classes at the MTC in Taipei, and had intended to take a year out after uni to really improve my Mandarin but never got around to it - definitely can't do it now that we have a little one! Is your 13 year old going to Chinese school now? Can she speak any Mandarin or Cantonese?
  8. almostwitty

    almostwitty New Member


    I'm Andrew, a Liverpool-born Chinese bloke who now lives in London. My Cantonese is pretty much non-existent, and my Hakka isn't much better (Hakka words, English grammar). But I'm trying to teach what little I can to my 4-year-old kid (who has a few speech and language issues anyway!)

    Fortunately, Alex seems to enjoy the PlayCantonese sessions in Kings' Cross - indeed, on Sunday, we were teaching him how to write 羊 in the class, and today he was still writing it without being prompted, even when I wasn't home!
    Andrew likes this.
  9. Pui-Lai

    Pui-Lai New Member

    Hi Andrew, that is one of the best feedbacks ever - I'm so happy to hear that and thank you for the feedback. So happy to hear that he is enjoying the King's Cross Cantonese group and he is learning; I hope you are learning too :D
    If people don't know what we are talking about then here are one of Helen Lee's amazing worksheets for our Kings Cross Cantonese group. Maybe we should start a forum just for Cantonese playgroups!
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
    Andrew and Teresa like this.
  10. William Huang

    William Huang New Member

    Hi all, I'm William, speak some Mandarin and Hakka (poorly) and wife speaks Portuguese to our children. We live in East London and hope that our children can learn some Mandarin. We have a 3 year old and a 9 month old. Haven't found any Mandarin playgroups in our area and hardly any resources online for Hakka. Would like to know if you have found anything Andrew (almostwitty)?
    This website is great, looking forward to seeing more information on teaching our kids Mandarin.
    Andrew likes this.
  11. Beatrice Chik

    Beatrice Chik New Member

    Hi everyone, I'm Beatrice and I have two boys - Benjamin is 2.5yo and Brandon is 8 months old. I initially spoke to Benjy in English only as that is what we speak at home. However, when he was 18 months old and started to talk, I realize I should really introduce him to some Chinese. I am fluent in both English and Cantonese, and my Mandarin gets me by if I really need to speak it! It's hard being bilingual at home now as my husband speaks English predominantly, although he understands Mandarin (did GCSEs and all, but all out the window now from lack of practice). Now I try my best to speak to Benjy in Cantonese whenever we are on our own, but when my husband is around it's back to English, so it's been challenging! Hence, I'm joining this group in the hopes that I will get more support and inspiration to continue on this bilingual journey with my kids. At this point, Benjy understands most of what I'm saying to him in Cantonese, but he will respond in English unless I tell him to say it in chinese and only then will be repeat after me - I am ok with this for now as it's a start!
    P/S Andrew and Pui Man, I think we met before once at the King's Cross Playcantonese btw! Good work setting up this forum!
    Andrew likes this.
  12. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Thanks for signing up Beatrice! I think we are all finding it difficult to teach our kids to speak Chinese as it's very easy to slip back into English. I would definitely say that it's never too late to get started. Up until Benjamin was around 3 I have been speaking to him in English/Cantonese because I was not confident with my Mandarin. However with some encouragement from my wife, I have been speaking to him mostly in Mandarin for the last few months, and the good news is that he switches to Mandarin to speak to me the majority of the time. So I think that it's definitely possible, just be very disciplined with the language and encourage Benjy to speak Cantonese wherever possible.
  13. Bobamama888

    Bobamama888 New Member

    Hi everyone i am Jenny.
    I speak basic cantonese which is the same with Hubby.
    I cant read or write chinese. As a child i went to chinese classes which was taught within the chinese church my family attends (mother side). The classes were taught by members of the church. I had knowledge then of some written and reading. But as i grew older and change of teachers and venue. I found that i was unlearning it all, due to a new teacher spending most of the time trying to control the class. And half the class only paying attention. I ended up eventually no long attending at about 11yrs old.
    I have a son 9yrs, daughter 4 yrs, and baby boy 5 mths. I would really like them to speak more cantonese, mainly so they can speak to their elders. We start with good intentions when they are babies but slack when they get older trying to teach them. We would say things in both english and cantonese. Recently we had asked the kids when they are asking for something they must ask in cantonese. This seems to help, as they are asking how to say a word in cantonese.
    Andrew likes this.
  14. xoAims

    xoAims New Member

    Hi! I'm Amy. I was born in Holland and moved to the UK when I was 8. My parents are from Hong Kong and Cantonese is my mother tongue. I can speaking Cantonese fairly fluently but a little rusty in the reading and writing areas. However I am glad that my parents sent me to Chinese school when I was younger and what I learnt did stay with me to adulthood. Now I have a 4 and 1 year old girls. I speak to them in Cantonese from birth. The eldest have a gift in language and can speak the words 花, 波, 魚 etc from 14 months and by 18 months can hold a conversation. Since starting nursery, she has started to speak English more and this has taken over the Cantonese. Bear in mind, I have never taught her English...she learnt the language at nursery and from TV. I do worry that Cantonese will become a forgotten language and therefore am taking the following steps to help the girls:

    1. Join a local Cantonese playgroup...have already met some wonderful likeminded families
    2.Only speak Cantonese at home....this is difficult as we naturally answer back with the language our daughter use but we are trying!!
    3. Enrol eldest to Chinese class. We attend the True Jesus church in Leicester and in September they will be taking on a new Cantonese reading/writing class.
    4. Encourage Cantonese language via story books...I have bought the whole I can read series from Greenfield Hong Kong and am waiting for my mum to bring them over to the UK. The books are very simple but they use repetitive words in the stories to re-enforce the language and the plus side, my level of Cantonese is most suited to children's books!!! But there are CDs which can help for more difficult words.
    5.I am thinking of banning CBeebies and only show Cantonese cartoons/nursery rhymes/songs and are looking for ways to make this happen....
    6. Help the girls take part in a penpal scheme with other Cantonese speaking children to encourage writing/reading in Cantonese Chinese....my eldest have 4 pen friends now and love receiving letters and drawings.
    7.Joining various groups and forums such as this one to get more inspiration and tips =)
    Andrew likes this.
  15. Lola888

    Lola888 New Member

    Hi I'm Lorraine. My parents moved from Hong Kong to the UK before I was born. I speak cantonese, enough to get by in Hong Kong, but I can't read or write very much.

    I'm married to a British guy who has tried to learn cantonese but it's so difficult. We have two daughters and it's been hard. My eldest is almost 3 and loves peppa pig I've tried putting on peppa in cantonese on YouTube but she's not really interested. She knows little bits and can understand more than she'll speak. My parents have her them a few times a week and do try sometimes but I catch them speaking English to them all the time *sigh*. The youngest is only 15 months and doesn't really speak yet but can say cat in Cantonese!

    I do think its a bit of a losing battle but I will keep going.
    Andrew likes this.
  16. Jenny8022

    Jenny8022 New Member

    Hi my name's Jenny. I live in Northern Ireland where my parents moved to in the 1960's after getting married in Hong Kong.. both my parents are 100% HK Chinese.

    My mum and dad spoke to me in Hakka from birth..then as I was growing up I learnt Cantonese off the TVB serials/videos my parents used to rent from the Chinese supermarket in Belfast!! Growing up bilingual has given me a real flair for languages.....as well as speaking Hakka and English, I can speak, read and write some Cantonese due to having attended a weekly 2 hour Chinese school on Sundays when my siblings and I were all younger...as a teenager I went on to learn more Cantonese (vocabulary etc) by reading and learning Cantonese phrases via cassette tape lyrics (I'm a big Cantopop fan) and getting penpals from Hong Kong, really helped my letter writing skills (the penpals I got I found from Chinese teen mags like ''Yes Idol'' etc)......I also know French, reached near native level just over ten years ago though must say it has sadly become a little rusty due to lack of practice!! I did basic Japanese in a module while I was at university....in the 90's. Three years ago, I did Classical Latin at the Open University and got a distinction, and did a basic Mandarin course for beginners at the OU....which I also passed.....as you can see I truly love my languages!!!!

    My partner and I have an 8 year old son, my partner is Caucasian....I have taught my son some basic phrases etc...how to write his Cantonese name etc...count from 1 to 20 etc....I still have so much to teach him, but it's so hard to get him the right books.....and also our household is a mainly English speaking one....I know with my experience in languages that total immersion is the BEST way to learn a language, unfortunately that won't happen....nevertheless...just wondering does anyone have any tips??
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
    Andrew likes this.
  17. Jenny8022

    Jenny8022 New Member

    Hi Diana, I happen to have a friend who is from Macau who is married to a Finnish guy...
  18. Rachel

    Rachel New Member

    Hi All,

    I am Rachel. I am from Taiwan. I married to a British and moved to England in 2009. I speak to our 3 years old son in Mandarin. Mandarin is my mother tongue. I was studying in University of Brighton. My English is still not as good as Mandarin.

    I work Monday to Thursday and my husband work full time thus our son in the Nursery all day Monday to Thursday. His English is much better than Mandarin. Before we went back to Taiwan last year, my son speak to me some Mandarin and English, mixed. We stays in Taiwan nearly a month last year. Now he speak to my in Mandarin, however I know his Chinese is not improving after came back from Taiwan nearly 2 months now. I always speak to him in Chinese even his father around, thus I need to translate it for my husband. Sometimes I need to speak twice, Chinese to my son and English to my husband then both can understanding it. I know which is bit tiring for me however its all for my son. Before bed time I ready Chinese's bed time story to him, let him watching Peppa Pig in Chinese or Dora in Chinese etc and taking him to see or visit my Chinese friends and also Skype to my parents in Taiwan once a week. Now I am planning to teach him ㄅㄆㄇㄈ (phonetic symbols) with my husband soon. We don't use Pinyin in Taiwan. I hope he can acquiring a language instead of learning a language as Mandarin. Learning a language is hard work, not natural, conscious and limited fluency like me. I also plan to take him back to Taiwan once a year at least, hope environment would help him speaking more Mandarin.

    I am living in between Reading and Basingstoke. I find very difficult to join a Mandarin play groups around Reading or Basingstoke. Most of play groups seems in or around London. I have few Chinese and Taiwanese friends around Hampshire, however most of them lives quite far away. If you know who is living around Berkshire or Hampshire please let me know. I would like to know them.
    Andrew likes this.
  19. Nick

    Nick New Member

    I'm a second language acquisition specialist that has helping build a number of programs and schools around the world. Although my Mandarin needs ton of work, I'm trying to raise my daughter, who's now 2 1/2, in the language. So far she's doing incredibly well. We also speak Turkish at home and have her attending Spanish lessons 3 times a week. You can follow our journey here where I post lots of ideas and useful resources http://www.chicagonow.com/where-are-we-going-dad/2014/09/speaking-my-daughter-chinese-non-native/
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  20. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Hey Rachel welcome to the community! Just wanted to chime in here - my family are from Taiwan and I was born in the UK. I just wanted to comment on Zhuyin aka ㄅㄆㄇㄈ - I personally found it very difficult to learn as a child and never got the hang of it - despite being taught it from a young age. When I was introduced to Pinyin, I found it much easier because it's based on Western characters. Not only that, but it's much easier to type (don't need a special keyboard) and therefore much easier to access most of the time. I also found it easy to translate my knowledge of Zhuyin into Pinyin, e.g. ㄅ = B, etc. good conversion guide here: http://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/zhuyin.php

    Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 13.05.08.png
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