New Story “中文学校:ABC成长的烦恼” /“中文学校:ABC的自我奋斗”

Here’s another one I wrote! Reflecting on my relationship with my parents’ language, especially through those teen years of motivated rebellion/rejection and then college, when I re-evaluated who I wanted to be based on the cultures that made me–an arc that I think many children of immigrants will identify with.

Part 1:

Part 2:

8 thoughts on “New Story “中文学校:ABC成长的烦恼” /“中文学校:ABC的自我奋斗”

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Nancy! There is no English version. I wrote the piece for the parents! And the Chinese/Taiwanese who may not know what it’s like to grow up as an ABC. The ABC kids already understand what I’m saying 🙂

  1. Jessica, I really like your stories, they are so authentic and insightful. I am a first generation immigrant from China, I literally see my kids in your story! Do you have an English version of the stories? I wish my kids could read the Chinese version, but they are not there yet. I hope your story can be the inspiration to encourage them to get there.

    Look forward to seeing more great writings from you.

  2. Jessica, I read ALL your articles (NYT) and I enjoy them very much. Your writings touched me in many levels, as I’m the 1st generation, came here in ’96, and also a father of two (18 and 15). Four of us, including my wife who came to join me in ’97, went through similar things reflected in your writings.

    Here, I would like to seek your opinion on this. You mentioned a Mom who insisted to talk to her kids in Chinese at home and that’s her “method” to keep them Chinese, language and culture wise (even her mixed marriage husband had not much to say at the dinner tables).

    I get it. The best method to teach our kids Chinese is to talk to them in Chinese at home all the time to create a “Chinese” immersion environment.

    ok, we can do that, if we wanted to, as my wife and I grew up and college educated in China. But we have another point of view. We wanted to talk to our kids, and our goal is far more than just “talk” to them or teach them Chinese. As parents, we wanted to communicate with them, educate with them, very often, discuss complicated subjects with them. As you can imagine, there is NO way we can do all that in Chinese, and in only Chinese and at all the time in Chinese. (ok, I admit, this statement alone deserves another debate). Well, today what I see is that many other Chinese families talk to their kids in Chinese, yet under that language constrains, either talk to their kids in a very simple way (which has lasting effect later), or lecture their kids in a way that their kids don’t even fully understand or appreciate (which comes back to the “you will thank me later”). Yes, daily conversations is all in Chinese. So what? Are they proud of their Chinese proficiency to be able to order foods or tease laowai/gwailo behind their backs?

    Now, here is my point. If I have to, I will not hesitate to trade my opportunity to teach our kids Chinese at home by talking ONLY in Chinese, with another opportunity – the opportunity that we can really communicate with them, talk to them about what’s going on at schools, become their friends (not just their parents), share their feelings and concerns of growing up, and even debate with their ideas and discuss current affairs and politics, and inspire them with new discoveries in science – in a language we BOTH are good at to serve that propose. Most of the time, that language is English, particular to the parents who are up to that English level. In fact, I believe many new generation of Chinese immigrants/parents are up to that levels.

    What do you think?
    (btw – I hope you don’t give me the answer of “in the middle and balance” that we can do both).


    1. Thank you for your thoughts! I am by no means an expert in education (lacking the relevant degrees and such), so anything I say regarding education should be taken with a huge grain of salt. I can only speak on the basis on mine and other ABC’s experiences. You can email me to have a further discussion, but to put it in short: There is no reason why one cannot have deep/political/advanced discussions with thee ABc children! Their vocabulary will remain limited only if you speak to them as such. Growing up, I had many debates with my grandma about culture and politics, with her teaching me new terms and guiding me when I didn’t make sense. It is completely possible! When parents speak to their children at the dinner table in Chinese, why does it have to be limited to simple topics? We learn more by learning new things every day. However, this space is too small to have a developed conversation about this topic. Feel free to email me!

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