At a family gathering the other night, I was complimented on my Vietnamese speaking skills. I was flatted, as it came from a Vietnamese citizen who is recently studying in Canada on a student visa.
Thuy noticed that in North America, many Asian youth of my generation speak Vietnamese with an accent.
While it pleases me to know that I’m fluent in my native language, I fear the same could not be said of my children.
It’s our fault the boys don’t feel comfortable communicating in the mother tongue: My husband and I use more English when speaking to our friends and even to each other. We speak mostly in English to our children. It’s so much easier because they’re already well adapted to this culture and its language, as are we.
But much like everything we learn, without practice we will eventually forget. And I don’t want them to lose their identity, or the connection to our culture.
It’s our responsibility as parents to pass on the things we’ve learnt, to teach our children the family history and help them maintain their heritage.
For my resolution this year, I vow to teach the boys on becoming bilingual speakers, at the same time deepening my own roots.
This isn’t an easy task, as it is never easy to break a habit.
We’ll have to challenge ourselves, push out of our comfort zone, resist the urge, and make a conscious effort to choose the difficult choice.
It is a long-term commitment with a slow progress. But as long as there is progress, there is hope.
So, here’s to making progress in 2013!