My Chinese is very poor, I know, but I try my best. The last couple of nights, after I've read to Maylin her chosen book (usually in English, but I'm trying to switch into French without her noticing -- she notices immediately in the beginning and protests, but later she seems to give in), and I've turned off the lights and we're cuddling together in her big double bed, I toss out some Chinese words for her to repeat. We're starting off with body parts (and body functions that are hilarious to preschoolers). She does a pretty good job imitating my sounds, not perfectly, but I'm not going to push her to perfection yet. The last thing I want her to do is develop a resistance to learning Chinese. We're just having fun at this point.
One of my friends gave me a Chinese language acquisition DVD for kids which we'll take a look at pretty soon. I also have tons of Chinese folk song and story CDs that I have to dust off, too, from our last trip to Taiwan.
When we move back to Berkeley, California, I was planning on enrolling her in Saturday Chinese school. And hopefully, I can convince my parents to speak to Maylin mainly in Mandarin.
There's a French-American school in Berkeley, but before we moved to Paris in 2004, I had heard some disappointing reviews. Maybe things have changed over there, but I don't know. The other option is to seek out French speakers through local organizations and hope to find a little French buddy for Maylin to play with regularly, or even better, a French-speaking play group (I wish).
Would it be language overkill if I tried enrolling her in a Spanish immersion primary school for her weekday educational experience? Probably not. One of our neighbors speaks about seven or eight different languages --fluently! I think just getting the sounds in a child's ear at an early age is critical.
One of my regular readers, Sarah, has taken an interest in Maylin's language acquisition since last year. She is teaching her one year-old nephew French (you can never start too early) and keeps a blog on bilingualism and children. You can check out what she wrote about Maylin here: http://babybilingual.blogspot.com/2006/09/profile-maylin-learning-english-french.html