Essay On Chinese Language

781 Words4 Pages
I was casually strolling through the busy streets of our lovely San Francisco Chinatown yesterday when I found a small, tucked-in restaurant selling my favorite Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles. I entered the restaurant without hesitation and soon found myself chatting away with the serving girl, a second generation Chinese immigrant, in my mother tongue. “Ni de zhong wen hen bu cuo,” I told her. Her Chinese was surprisingly good for someone who had never grown up in China. As a parent and an educator, I was very pleased to find our young people keeping strong ties with our ancestral language. To my dismay, however, the girl sheepishly shook her head and responded, “wo bu neng yong zhong wen xie zi, ye bu neng du shu.” She could speak…show more content…
We must consider the fact that our children speak fluent Chinese before hastily launching a new language curriculum. Olga Kagan, a languages and cultures professor at UCLA, explains: “A recent survey conducted by the National Heritage Language Resource Center at UCLA showed that many college students would elect to formally study their home language to gain literacy, discover more about their heritage culture and linguistic roots, and communicate better with relatives. That can happen only if the language is offered as part of a curriculum for heritage speakers that takes their existing proficiencies into account.” We must realize that beginner Chinese class would not serve our children well because they already arrive with considerable skills— and a beginner class assumes zero knowledge on the language and its cultural context. Our children need specialized, more advanced classes that allow them to explore the depth beneath our language, which would help them to establish deeper connection with our culture. Our ancestors had left us with a saying, “Teach your descendants the two proper roads - language and farming.” Our ancestors are right. Although many of us city-dwelling immigrants may not be able to teach our children farming, we are at least responsible for teaching them one of the proper roads: the language of our home
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