Here are the updates for what my daughters are doing in terms of their bilingual education
1) dd#1 “Charlotte”: She is 13 and in 8th grade of a regular private school in a small town in North Carolina. She takes regular 8th grade classes (Latin, English, Algebra, NC History, Physical Science, guitar). She does well in classes overall though they do take up a lot of time. She participates in various clubs and extracurricular activities (MathCount, Battle of the Books, club guitar with high schoolers, NC history something, tennis during the fall, etc.). With all the school work and activities, she only does a few hours of Chinese on the weekends, reading up on current trends in China (Slow-Chinese.com) and continuing reading kungfu novel 倚天屠龍記 when time allows. I try getting her to sing Chinese pop songs with guitar accompaniment but she is not interested, as she can’t share that with her classmates at school. Instead she is playing mostly English pop songs, cords and fingerpicking, though she plays a few Chinese pop songs and songs from Japanese animation 天空之城 (Castle in the Sky) and 霍爾的移動城堡 (Howl’s Moving Castle).
My plan for her Chinese is to get them in during the summer and see if the school can let her sign up for online Chinese IV and then Chinese AP in 9th and 10th grade. There is no hurry to take Chinese AP before 10th grade, as AP content is high school/adult material though the Chinese language level is 4-5th grade. She can then take Spanish afterwards.
2) dd #2 “Georgia”: She is 10 and is in 6th grade in the same school. Since we didn’t have any decent gifted program here, we let her skip a grade a few years back. She takes all the regular 6th grade classes and is doing very well in school these days without breaking a sweat. Though she is in regular 6th grade math, I am trying to see if she can finish pre-Algebra on our own before the end of school year, so that she can be tested out and then take Algebra in 7th grade. She does tennis and guitar also. Since we drastically limited her computer access and took most of her Chinese comic books away a few months back (very unhappy about this, she is) to encourage more English reading, she has gotten much better in English. She is almost done reading (eagerly so) the first 7 books of Harry Potter, probably 2 years behind similarly gifted peers. Better late than never, of course. Since gifted middle schoolers in school districts elsewhere with differentiated or gifted programs seem to be two years ahead in math and science (or more for the few highly gifted students) without needing to resort to grade skipping, we are working with Georgia’s school to see if they will allow her to fall back a grade to her age peers before high school but still take mostly advanced classes. If the school approves of it, she will have a second 8th grade year though she will take mostly 9th grade classes. In this way, she will have equivalent course load when compared to gifted students elsewhere at time of college application. She then will be able to take calculus by 10th grade and rack up more AP classes this way. I think she will be able to take both Chinese and Spanish AP this way. Leveling the playing field, that’s all. Otherwise, she is at a disadvantage when applying for the very top colleges, since they could care less about skipping one grade.
As far as Georgia’s Chinese is concern, this is going well though we are slowing down Chinese this year, to make room for English and math. She continues to read 三十六計 aloud and reads the World Literature Series mentioned in prior blogs (currently reading Phantom of the Opera). On the weekends, she reads Chinese stories such as 包公傳 and 聊齋誌異 and current trends in China (selected age-appropriate readings from Slow-Chinese.com) with the tutor. We also continues to study 4th grade Chinese textbook from Taiwan at a slower pace. Since she has had big improvement in English reading, I am “giving back” some of the Chinese comics that she loves (mainly 哆拉Ａ夢 and 亂馬1/2).
The girls continue to speak mostly Chinese with each other at home, as I am frequently around (big brother is always watching!!). Charlotte adds some English while speaking with me (and therefore I have to instruct her more in colloquial Chinese), as there is a lot of middle school drama that she tries to convey. Georgia only adds English phrases every now and then and can mostly avoid adding whole English sentences. I hope they can keep this up for the next 4-6 years. Though they are actually 2.5 generation Americans, they act more like 1.5 generation in terms of their Chinese. It gives us immense joy that everyone speak mostly Chinese with each other at home.
Lastly, we have been watching “Fresh Off the Boat” on Amazon Video and they love it, as it validates their own experience! Georgia has been watching fewer kungfu TV shows lately as a result. Next summer, besides the usual trip to Taiwan (a couple of weeks only this time), I will be taking them to mainland China for a 10-14 day educational trip.
Well, that sums up what we have been doing these past few months. With running the household, parenting, and work plus primary hospital call every third day, I am getting kind of burned out after doing so for 10 years. I plan to cut back to a part time position next spring for a couple of years, to enjoy my children for a couple of years before they don’t “need” much of me anymore, work on a few projects that I have been putting off for years, and, uh…., get that six packs that have eluded me for the past 25 years !!