母親節表演 Mother’s Day performance

As part of the girls’ Chinese learning, they continue to perform for our family Chinese pop band, “Tu and Only” or 「杜ㄧ無二」.  Since DD#2, “Georgia” is now officially 13, “Tu & Only” is probably the only teenage band of its kind in southeast US or maybe the whole US (?!).  We took a three month break after our four February performances for the Chinese New Year celebration.  Below is our most recent two-song performance for Mother’s Day celebration with over 200 folks in attendance.  By the way, I haven’t played the violin in about thirty years and just bought a violin from Amazon to play for the band.  So, I am a bit rusty!

 

 

Here is the crowd after some have left and others line up for snacks.

 

How much can one feel connected to a culture/ethnic group without speaking the language?

Do most second or third generation Indian American children attend special schools for one of their parents’ mother language?

Reflecting on Indian and Indian American attitude toward English and their regional language

 

Why India Must Move Beyond English

2014

A couple of weeks ago, a major (though seemingly contrived) controversy broke out in India over the increased use of the Hindi language on social media. Language is a contentious issue in India, and has been since Article 343 of the Indian Constitution declared “Hindi in the Devanagari script” the official language of India in 1949. English, which was official during the British Raj, has remained co-official with Hindi, despite efforts to phase it out.

English remains entrenched in India and is widely used by India’s elite, bureaucracy, and companies. It is particularly important in its written form, as the official versions of most documents use English. Most pan-Indian written communication as well as many major media outlets use English. However, at the spoken level, English is much less prevalent and Indian languages are more widely used, with Hindi serving as a lingua franca for most of the country except the its northeast and the deep south.  It should be noted that English is spoken or understood by about 150 million Indians, or about 10 percent of the population. This means that around 90 percent of Indians do not understand or speak English.

English’s association with the elite and corridors of power and its status as the language of documents and serious literature has led to a craze for English-medium schools across India. Proponents of the English language in India argue that English will serve as the vehicle of India’s economic growth and lead to the empowerment of hundreds of millions of individuals. Nothing, however, could be more incorrect. India’s obsession with English holds back both its economic development and the quality of its education.

(Click link above for the rest of the article)

Here is a Quora entry I found:

Why do Indians prefer to send their children to English medium rather than Hindi medium school?

2016

Gopalkrishna Vishwanath

Let’s face it. The bitter truth (sweet for some) is that English has conquered all the other languages of the world.

Even those countries that were traditionally hostile to English and shielded their people from gaining knowledge of English have started opening out to English and accepting it as a language that one must learn and know to survive and make progress in the world.

Traditional rivals of the English, like the French and the Germans are learning English, while most Englishmen and Americans are not learning German or French. The former realise it is necessary. The latter don’t feel knowing French or German is necessary. The same is true in China. More Chinese people are learning English than English speaking people are learning Chinese.

It is not just Hindi speakers in India who prefer an English Medium education in India.

This is the situation in every state in India. Those who study in regional language schools do so because they could not get admission in English medium schools or could not afford it. Given a choice every parent will like to admit his child into an English medium school.

State Government politicians pay lip service to the regional language and pretend to be in favour of the local languages as medium of instruction at the primary school level but their own children go to English medium schools.They know the standard of education in regional language schools is not up to the mark.

English medium education gives you a status in society that you don’t get when you study in regional languages. The regional language is studied in addition to English not instead of English.

The standard of Education in English medium schools in India is vastly superior to the quality of education in the majority of schools that teach in the local languages.

English medium education facilitates entry into the elite sections of society. You are taken more seriously, when you are dressed in a pant and shirt and speak English rather than in a Dhoti and speak the local language. Those who speak English well do better in job interviews.They find it easier to do well abroad.

Nearly all the people who matter in India speak, read and write English as their first language.

The middle classes know this. Some grudgingly admit it. Others unconvincingly deny it.

Only in politics, arts, religion & culture and during elections are the local languages more important because you need to have mass contact, which is not possible if you speak to the masses in English.

 

Debjit Banerjee

My take:
1. ) There is not an iota of doubt that English is the global language when it comes to the professional world. So proficiency in English gives an edge when it comes to career.
2. ) The only language that binds India is English. Especially, it has been very successful in bridging the great South and the North India divide. So today a north Indian can communicate effectively with a south Indian without knowing any south Indian language and vice-versa. And in today’s fast developing India, our kids are not restricted to her or his own state. I have been living and working very comfortably in southern India for 9 years now without knowing any south Indian language.
3. ) Some may disagree but we still have hangover from the British rule. Many parents still think that knowledge of English makes their kids look smarter and more presentable to others.


Nandha Kumar

You don’t have to investigate deep into this to find an answer.

That English is the preferred language of progressive Indians is well established though not all will agree on this. English is nowadays considered as much Indian as Gujarati, Tamil or Telugu, and more importantly it helps to find good jobs all over the world.

Competing languages like Hindi especially is artificially propped up by the central government in India to give advantage to north Indians over south Indians. This makes English unpopular outside the southern states. More over, those unable to acquire even a working knowledge in English wish to pull down others to the same level to make it easy for them to compete in the job market, but seldom succeeds.

Having realized that English is the future of India, Indians prefer English because it a language suited best for communication within the country and at international level as well.

In short we can summarize that Indians prefer English over Hindi because it gives them special position over native language speakers and parents want this advantage for their children.

 


Yash Agrawal

Because they think that Hindi medium schools will not teach English properly. They know the importance of English, but they don’t know the importance of education in one’s mother tongue, that it is more effective for their children. It is also that English is not taught in a good way in some Hindi medium schools but this is not so in all the Hindi medium schools.

 

Do second and third generation Indian Americans take interest in learning any Indian language?

 

Simplified Chinese for dd#2

Recently, a situation arose that my dd#2 is able to attend a simplified Chinese weekend school near my house.  So, we sent her there last Saturday.  I figure it is time she learns simplified Chinese and start doing more writing.  I also want to outsource parts of the Chinese instruction now.  She got bumped up a grade to 7th grade after cold reading 7th grade textbook for the teacher.   After the first class, the teacher said that dd#2 was the best student in class.  So, that’s good to hear.   The following are some pics of the textbooks that the class uses.

Since dd#2 had spent much more time reading than writing before, she is working on being able to write out the entire story as I read along the text.  I print out character worksheets of every unique characters with stroke sequence for her to practice.  It is coming along and she should get basic writing up to speed fairly quickly after a couple of chapters.

Otherwise, she is reading Chinese comic books every day and now seems to have little problem reading the first book of Harry Potter in Chinese.

 

Update for 2017-2018 school year

The hectic summer finally settled down.  Here is an update after not posting for a while.  My 14 year old daughter just started high school and I had her enroll in an online high school Chinese III class, to get some official course work and credits. That’s the only way I can get her to do some “boring” expository writing (typing), as she is only interested in writing fictional / fantasy stories. Next year, in addition to online Chinese IV, she can take Chinese AP at the local Chinese school if time allows, and then get Chinese AP test out of the way afterwards. At the mean time, the three of us (2 daughters and I) are all enjoying watching the famed 2015 feudal period TV series 琅琊榜. It is rated 9.9 out of 10 on one of those websites and is totally addictive! The two of them, 11 and 14 now, continue to converse in Chinese 80-90% of the time at home, which is awesome.

瓊瑤之六個夢:再次閱讀(Rereading Six Dreams)

13 year old dd “Charlotte” is now rereading Six Dreams, a six short stories collection by Chiung Yao (瓊瑤), often regarded as the most famous romance novelist in the Chinese speaking world, with her novels adapted into more than 100 films and TV drama.  Charlotte read a few of the stories a couple of years ago, without zhuyin, and the fate of women in an era gone by (about 100 years ago) left a deep impression on her.   This time, I ask Charlotte to read the stories aloud to her weekend Chinese tutor, comfortably on the couch, who then provides her cultural background information and discusses nuances of the dialogues with her.  With a bit more maturity (lots of middle school drama at school, LOL) and guided reading this time, Charlotte has a deeper understanding this time around and greatly enjoys it.  At this point, she is finishing up reading the first short story: 追尋, which I printed out with zhuyin on the side to aid her reading aloud.

十三歲大女兒現在再次讀瓊瑤著作的六個夢。她幾年前讀過普通沒注音的版本,現在我把它加注音印出來,讓她朗讀給家教聽,讓家教跟她說說故事的文化背景和對話中她不懂的微妙之處,讓她讀的津津有味,有更深的認識。

The first story started out like this:

民國初年,北平。那一天,對婉君而言,真像是場大夢。一清早,家裡擠滿了姨姨姑姑,到處亂哄哄的。媽媽拿出一件繡滿了花的紅色緞子衣服,換掉了她平日穿慣的短襖長裙,七八個人圍著她,給她搽胭脂抹粉,戴上珠串珠花,遮上頭帔,然後媽媽抱了她一下,含著淚說:「小婉,離開了媽媽,別再鬧孩子脾氣了。到了那邊,就要像個大人一樣了,要聽話,要乖,要學著侍候公公婆婆,知道嗎?」婉君緊閉著嘴,呆呆的坐著,像個小洋娃娃。然後,她被硬塞進那個掛著簾子、垂著珠珞的花轎,在鞭炮和鼓樂齊鳴中,花轎被抬了起來。直到此刻,她才突然被一種恐怖和驚惶所征服,她緊緊的抓住轎桿,「哇」的一聲哭了起來,拚命叫媽媽。於是媽媽的臉在轎門口出現了,用非常柔和的聲音說:「小婉,好好的去吧,到那兒,大家都會喜歡你的。別哭了,當心把胭脂都哭掉了。」

轎子抬走了,媽媽的臉不見了。她躲在轎子裡,抽抽噎噎的一直到周家大門口。然後糊糊塗塗的,她被人攙了出來,在許許多多陌生人的注視下、評論下,走進了周家的大廳。

她一直記得那紅色的地毯,就在那地毯上,她被人拉扯著,扶掖著,和一個十三、四歲的漂亮的男孩子拜了天地,正式成為周家的兒媳。事後她才知道和她拜堂的那個神采飛揚的男孩子,並不是她的丈夫,而是她丈夫的大弟弟仲康。她的丈夫伯健那時正臥病在床,而由仲康代表他拜了天地。這種提前迎娶被稱作沖喜。或者,她真的是一顆福星,無論如何,她進門後,伯健的病卻果然好了。

那一天,婉君才剛八歲。