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Old 01-14-2019, 07:04 AM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
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You can't really generalize about "the old country" because they themselves are so varied. In some countries it is quite rare to fiind a bilingual person of any age -- Russia, Thailand, South America. In other countries, virtually everyone hears and understands, if not speaks at least two languages nearly every day, like Singapore, Philippines, most African countries.
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Old 01-14-2019, 03:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cebuan View Post
You can't really generalize about "the old country" because they themselves are so varied. In some countries it is quite rare to fiind a bilingual person of any age -- Russia, Thailand, South America. In other countries, virtually everyone hears and understands, if not speaks at least two languages nearly every day, like Singapore, Philippines, most African countries.
Its true, some countries are more likely to be biligual than others. European countries seem to have much more multi lingual population than much of the world. And Singapore is also a multi lingual place.
Thailand seem to have very little immigration compared to other parts of the far east. I guess its due to Thailand never being colonized leading to less motivation for immigration compared to other countries.
Though are 2nd 3rd generation kids in the US from comparably homogeneous countries like China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan more or less likely to be biligual-multi lingual compared to their peers in these countries?

The we can ask are people in Canada more likely to be bilingual, since both English and French are official languages there. How about keeping of other native languages for those who's origin is outside of English and French. As major cities in Canada are very diverse.

What about Panama, Peru, Brazil, and Paraguay, these places have a lot of immigrants including from Asia and China, interestingly I learned from the 2016 Summer Olympics that Brazil has a lot of Japanese. How many of the Sansei in Brazil speak Japanese? Is it better or worse than Sansei or third generation Japanese in North America?
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Old 01-14-2019, 03:29 PM
 
Location: Tulsa
1,540 posts, read 640,820 times
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Most Chinese raised in China are not really bilingual even though everybody has to learn some English at school.

Kids of Chinese immigrants who were born in the US rarely speak Chinese fluently, either.

Unless dialects like Cantonese are deemed as languages, very few Chinese/Chinese Americans speak the third language. It's all about how much Chinese/English do they speak.

Hispanics are probably different. It's easy to retain Spanish skills for those who live in Miami.
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Old 01-14-2019, 03:36 PM
 
Location: Tulsa
1,540 posts, read 640,820 times
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Originally Posted by citizensadvocate View Post
Its true, some countries are more likely to be biligual than others. European countries seem to have much more multi lingual population than much of the world. And Singapore is also a multi lingual place.
Thailand seem to have very little immigration compared to other parts of the far east. I guess its due to Thailand never being colonized leading to less motivation for immigration compared to other countries.
Though are 2nd 3rd generation kids in the US from comparably homogeneous countries like China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan more or less likely to be biligual-multi lingual compared to their peers in these countries?

The we can ask are people in Canada more likely to be bilingual, since both English and French are official languages there. How about keeping of other native languages for those who's origin is outside of English and French. As major cities in Canada are very diverse.

What about Panama, Peru, Brazil, and Paraguay, these places have a lot of immigrants including from Asia and China, interestingly I learned from the 2016 Summer Olympics that Brazil has a lot of Japanese. How many of the Sansei in Brazil speak Japanese? Is it better or worse than Sansei or third generation Japanese in North America?
Not many people are bilingual in Spain, which is in Europe.

The U.K is not known for multilingualism either, but whether it's in Europe is becoming debatable.

Multilingualism in Europe is greatly exaggerated. Only a couple of small countries are truly multilingual, like Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Nationals from other European countries may or may not speak English as their second language. The Dutch are great English learners, but they don't speak English like the Swiss speak French/German. However, there are a ton of migrants from Eastern Europe to Western Europe and they have to learn languages other than their native one.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:25 PM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
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Multilingualism arises when there is a need and/or a desire for it. All Canadian school children learn both languages as required courses for 12 years, but few are actually bilingual. Absent a motivation, people will simply not acquire a second language, no matter how present it in their social environment.

Kyrgyzstan has a 10% ethnic Russian minority who were born there. Everyone else speaks Kyrgyz at home and at work. But I met a journalist there who knows no Kyrgyz at all, not even simple phrases, only Russian and excellent English. Every Kyrgyz is bilingual Russian/Kyrgyz, so the ethnic Russians are not motivated to learn Kyrgyz. It's like the Americans in south Texas, who know no Spanish at all, even though they hear it spoken daily by the great majority of their neighbors.

Last edited by cebuan; 01-14-2019 at 06:42 PM..
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Old 01-15-2019, 05:19 PM
 
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Tricky question, and I'm quite familiar with China and HK immigrants because I know plenty of them, so this is a fascinating topic that I love.

How do you define bilingualism? Simply learning it in school (doesn't mean you can speak, read, write, or understand it)? Or actually speaking, writing, and understanding it?

If being bilingual is simply learning a second language in school, then both China/HK immigrants and ABCs (Chinese Americans) are equally bilingual. In China/HK, they'll learn English starting at elementary school age. For ABCs, we'll learn Spanish or French (at least when I was in school) starting in junior high.

But if being bilingual is actually understanding, speaking, reading, or writing the language, then China/HK immigrants who come to the USA are more bilingual because they NEED English here.

Whereas for ABCs, unless you actually know Spanish or French speakers, you'll never use it, and therefore, you'll forget what you learned, so ABCs are NOT bilingual.

For ABCs, what makes things confusing is that if they are children of China/HK immigrants, they will inevitably know SOME Chinese because their parents will speak to them, they have to respond in Chinese. But what DEGREE do they know Chinese? How bilingual are they?

Last edited by sas318; 01-15-2019 at 05:30 PM..
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Old 01-15-2019, 05:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sas318 View Post
Tricky question, and I'm quite familiar with China and HK immigrants because I know plenty of them, so this is a fascinating topic that I love.

How do you define bilingualism? Simply learning it in school (doesn't mean you can speak, read, write, or understand it)? Or actually speaking, writing, and understanding it?

If being bilingual is simply learning a second language in school, then both China/HK immigrants and ABCs (Chinese Americans) are equally bilingual. In China/HK, they'll learn English starting at elementary school age. For ABCs, we'll learn Spanish or French (at least when I was in school) starting in junior high.

But if being bilingual is actually understanding, speaking, reading, or writing the language, then China/HK immigrants who come to the USA are more bilingual because they NEED English here.

Whereas for ABCs, unless you actually know Spanish or French speakers, you'll never use it, and therefore, you'll forget what you learned, so ABCs are NOT bilingual.

For ABCs, what makes things confusing is that if they are children of China/HK immigrants, they will inevitably know SOME Chinese because their parents will speak to them, they have to respond in Chinese. But what DEGREE do they know Chinese? How bilingual are they?
My cousin (from China) forces his children to speak only Chinese at home. Quite some new immigrants from mainland China do that.

Old immigrants (mainly Cantonese people) usually do not set up such rules at home, and thus their children can understand some Chinese but not speak it fluently.
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Old 01-15-2019, 06:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
I don't think it's possible to generalize. Han Chinese in China may not be bilingual, but minority peoples in China definitely are bilingual. Multilingualism in regions where more than one ethnic minority live in proximity is common around the world.

Do "overseas Chinese" retain their heritage language? I don't know, but one can't generalize from that to all other people living in emigration. Russian communities abroad make a big effort to support their children's Russian language skills, through community after-school programs at a community center, or weekend schooling through the Orthodox Church. Tibetan-Americans also organize language support through their community centers. Many immigrant communities have similar programs. Some kids rebel against parental efforts to spur them to maintain their language skills, though.
You're right. It's impossible to generalize because language is a very individual thing, based on how your brain is wired. I randomly found an HK guy on YouTube who left at 11, speaks perfect American English as a 20-something, and now speaks Cantonese with an American accent. Blows the mind that you can forget your first language. But I know other guys who left HK at 9 who still speak Cantonese fluently and only speaks their accented American English when they have to. So it depends on their background growing up as well as their brain's natural ability (or lack of) towards languages.

I know a woman who came from China at 5 and she speaks perfect American English and her Chinese is terrible. I know another woman who also came from China at 5 and she speaks perfect Chinese and prefers to speak it over English; I wish I knew how she managed this. Going to American school from K-college grad, how she had opportunities to speak Chinese enough to feel more comfortable in it are beyond me. Even her husband is surprised. Coming here at 5 is the same as being born here.
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Old 01-15-2019, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
2,971 posts, read 1,078,235 times
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Originally Posted by sas318 View Post
How do you define bilingualism? Simply learning it in school (doesn't mean you can speak, read, write, or understand it)? Or actually speaking, writing, and understanding it?
I define it as being able to carry on a rudimentary conversation in either of two languages, without needing to translate mentally between languages.

However, I am not bilingual by that definition, so I don't really "know what that feels like".
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Old Today, 06:39 PM
 
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It appears some posters do deny that we are falling behind Homogeneous countries in terms of population who are biligual.
I would not be surprised but remember in a Homogenious country you have to search hard for whatever non native language you are looking for to learn outside of the class, lesson, or cram school are in. You have almost no exposure to it outside class unless you make quite an effort let alone a chance to practice it. So in this case while its highly individualistic it appears the rate of biligualism is very good in such circumstances.

Its interesting to see so children lose their language skills even in areas where as much as 30-50% if not more of the population in that area use that particular language and many many businesses are conducted in that language I.e those who live in Chula Vista, Oceanside, Vista, and Escondido, or in the ethnic enclaves around Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

There are also sayings that foreign language education is a joke that the 2 years requirement its impossible to hold a conversation from what you learned. There are people who do four years which includes from middle schools but did not do much. There are people who mentioned even Mexico does better but I cannot say whether its true for everywhere as I haven't had first hand experience.

Id be curious how much improvements in approaches of language education has been added in recent years. I heard a number Elementary schools particularly in places where another language is widely used is incorporating that language into its learning curriculum as early as kindergarden or the early grades.

While whether a person picks it up and be able to hold a conversation is still based on the individual at least we give a better opportunity for those who could pick it up a chance to do so by making the process more fun and less of a chore. Though it would be a big improvement if we can get a higher percentage of recent immigrant generations to be able to converse in their own language.
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