Tue 3 Oct 2006
I know it’s none of my business, but I just want to rant about something that disgusts me.
I once caught a Sydney train back home from work and witnessed a Chinese woman speaking extremely broken and beginner level English to her children that were about 5 and 7 years old. This normally wouldn’t cause a problem for me until I heard her kids reply back in ridiculously poor English. Their grammar and pronunciation sounded like a 2 year old child.
A fellow curious commuter asked the mother if her kids could speak Chinese, and the woman replied with a heavy accent “no Chinese, just English… No need Chinese”. Well, not only will her kids grow up with poor communication skills, they may grow up despising their parents for not teaching Chinese. What’s this woman thinking? When her kids grow up, they won’t be able to have any meaningful discussions with their mother. I think they would most likely need a translator to discuss anything interesting with their mother.
I remember discussing this incident with a work colleague, and he told me that his 15 year old son had to go to speech therapy because his Japanese wife refused to speak Japanese to the boy. This caused his son to speak English like his mother, developing bad speaking habits and inaccurate pronunciation of many English words.
I guess some parents think it will help their children speak better English if they speak English all the time to them. Though there are plenty of ABC’s who speak native sounding Cantonese and English. Despite this, some of my Australian born friends can only speak 1 language (i.e. English) with a foreign accent.
Can you imagine a native English speaker who only speaks broken and toneless Cantonese to their children in Hong Kong? What a disaster!