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我是一只小小鸟 – I’m a little bird April 17, 2006

Posted by Zara's Mama in language, Zara.

(I have lots to update, but I’ll just do a short post because I have lots to do at work)

Zara doesn’t speak Chinese, or rather nobody speaks to Zara in Chinese so she has not picked up any Chinese. I tried to do what Shiaulin has taught me, to repeat each English phrase I say to her in chinese so she learns to associate the two. However, after a few attempts, I got lazy. It’s tiring when you have to talk to the kid and repeating everything (already, lots of repetition in English to get a massage across).

Then I tried speaking to her just in Chinese, but she’ll say, “Don’t Want” when she hear non-English words coming out from me.
Me : Mummy 跟你讲华语要不要 (Mummy speaks to you in Chinese ok?)
Zara : Don’t want
Sometimes she even says : 不要 (Chinese: Don’t want). Don’t know if she really know what it means.

However, she likes this particular Chinese song which I sing (only the chorus) to her quite frequently. Here is her singing this together with me (I must say for someone who doesn’t speak Chinese, her pronunciation is quite good).

Click here to listen to her sing.

我是一只小小小小鸟 – Translated based on my best knowledge
Wo shi yi zhi xiao xiao xiao xiao niao (I’m just a little bird)

Xiang yao fei ya fei que fei ye fei bu gao (Even when I attempt to fly, I can never fly too high)

Wo xun xun mi mi xun xun mi mi yi ge wen nuan de huai bao (I’d been searching for a warm embrace)

Zhe yang de yao qiu suan bu suan tai gao (Is this a very difficult request?)

(The song sung by the original singer can be found here)



1. Jesslyn - April 17, 2006

eh, she can duet with u ler! so clever girl! *clap*clap*clap*

2. Egghead - April 17, 2006

I dun think it matters whether she wants to speak in mandarin or not… the language will sub-consciously go into her mind one… if enough people talks to her 🙂

3. blurblur - April 17, 2006

Round of applause for Ahmeen and Zara!! :))

Clever Zara, i agreed that her pronounciation is quite good leh..actually singing a a good way for kids to pick up languages! 🙂

4. Allyfeel - April 17, 2006

I tried that too speaking to bb in that repeating manner. Sometimes I forgot. But his Mandarin is like “Kuai Lou”.

5. Allyfeel - April 17, 2006

AIks, I have problem hearing the sound clip…

6. shiaulin - April 17, 2006

*clap clap* Bravo Zara!!! she sang so good!! her pronounciation is very 准!and 拍子、音调 also correct! clever girl.

as to speak in repeating manner to my Xuan only carry for a month or two, now Xuan can understand English very well when i speak to him (so i no need to repearting in both languages), and he even can speak to me in very simple English now.

for ur case, u can try what maria do. U speak to Zara in Chinese, then daddy in English. However, what egghead commented is true also, as we all learnt Malay in quite an old age too right? 😉

7. gbyeow - April 17, 2006

Woo. Richie Ren. Your girl got taste 🙂

8. mom2ashley - April 17, 2006

that’s what i heard from other people as well..if you want them to learn another languange, you gotta repeat the sentence again in the languange you want her to learn…..i did that with the “limited” mandarin that i know..hahaha….i havent been doing it religiously..but i think it’s worth the try eh? cause i heard that children can pick up langunages very easily before the age of 4.

9. shoppingmum - April 17, 2006

My friend who’s afraid of her girl can’t speak good english also “insisted” on speaking to her in english only. But now, she wants to teach her 4 years old chinese, the girl refuses to learn. So, I campur campur both languages when I speak to Justin.
I think if you just speak in chinese sometimes without translation, someday she’ll pick up. It’s very easy for kids to learn a few languages.

10. maria @ twinsmom - April 17, 2006

same fate here, feel damn 失败 man LOL… but nvm lar, they will pick up.

11. maria @ twinsmom - April 17, 2006

Oh, my mom suggestion — they refuse to speak Mandarin because they know we can understand English mah, so when they speak English we pretend don’t know, so they will try to speak the language we “know”, just like the kid talking to their maid (*sigh*… become maid liao).
but time consuming also lar, I don’t have the patience.

12. eve - April 17, 2006

awwwww..she is just too kiut la…karen oso speaks oni english..cos i dun spend a lot of time w her..so i kenot teach her anything else..her granparents sometimes speak hokkien to her, but she’ll reply in english…eh , u still havent given me ur yahoo e mail add..

13. Zara's Mama - April 17, 2006

*curtsey* thank you.

The problem is.. nobody speaks Mandarin at home.. Told MIL & FIL to speak to her in Mandarin, but they still use Cantonese on her. 😦

Maybe I should just blast more Chinese song for her to listen. 😛

So he can speak Mandarin a bit?? Actually if you visit Shiaulin’s blog, I find Xuan also speaks like kuai lou.. I think b’cos Mandarin has lots of intonation and at this age they still don’t master it, so they all sound very kwai lou. 😛
Now can listen? Most people can.

*chanting* I shall try to do it.. I shall try to do it.. I shall try to do it..
(but tough ler.. tiring for the mouth)

Err.. This is Zhao Chuan la.. the ugly singer.. not the handsome Ricky Ren.

Yes, I kept telling myself that too.. If I don’t do it now.. It’ll be very late.. 😦
Ok ok.. *chanting* I shall try to do it.. I shall try to do it.. I shall try to do it..

I plan to send her to Chinese school, so I guess, I better start to speak to her SERIOUSLY. 😦

Yeah loh.. I also don’t have patience.. I just want to send the massage across, so the easiest is to speak a language she knows.
But I should try.. really should try.

Aiyo.. Karen also angmoh?? 😛
Eh.. you leave me a comment here with your email address can? Then you just delete the comment after that.. I’ll get an email notification with your email. I don’t have any other email id, I will let you have my work email but I don’t want to publish here. 😛

14. fuzzoo - April 17, 2006

Yah, somehow if they know you can speak and understand English, they will not converse with you in Mandarin. It has to be someone else who plays the role of “Mandarin speaker” in the household. But I think what’s important at this age is to ensure that they do not dislike the language – you could get her a Chinese DVD – try Miyazaki’s films (I highly recommend My Neighbour Totoro); when kids see characters they like, they might sprout the lines from the show.

15. sesame - April 17, 2006

Hey, I’ve started to teach Gavin Chinese too. At first he wasn’t interested. But now, I teach him to say the words of things he likes and he has started to pick up.

His Chinese teacher is also very good in this. She made him feel comfortable with her and everyday, she’ll pen one Chinese character on his hand to teach him

16. Lazymama - April 17, 2006

Aiyoo! She is so clever!

I believe it’s a matter of whether you want to talk to her in Mandarin or not, Zara sure can pick up Mandarin very fast!

17. may - April 17, 2006

encore! encore! *clap clap clap!*
Zara’s still very young, she’ll pick up Mandarin in no time if there’s someone who’d speak that dialect to her on a regular basis.

18. Jason - April 18, 2006

Hahaa! So cute! Should let her listen to “ke ren lai”, “san zhi lao hu” also.

19. shiaulin - April 18, 2006

BTW, how come u let her listen to this song leh? so young in search for a ‘bird’ liao?? LOL

20. Simple American - April 18, 2006

Maybe if you got some Mandarin children shows?

Wish I would have done it with my kids. Sent them to Chinese schools, but I think I learned more than my son. He would not let me leave during the class. The other boys teased him about his accent and called him stupid which did not help either.

Hey you girls sing pretty good. Maybe you should consider doing some kiddie sing along. I’m serious, no joke.

21. Blogie-Talkie - April 18, 2006

ya, I remember this song…

22. Gene Lim - April 18, 2006

Bravo! Bravo! encore! encor! hehehe..well dun worrie abt the language..i am sure she will pick up as she go along… 🙂
U r doing marvelous job here my dear..should give urself some credits! 🙂

23. jazzmint - April 18, 2006

hehe..don’t wanna speak mandarin, but can sing mandarin, not bad wohh. Future Sally Yeh liao lerr!!

24. Vien - April 18, 2006

OMG! You girls sound so cute together. I’ve also been told to repeat each word with another language and like you, I got lazy too. So, now, my job is to speak to Belle in cantonese and english. The hubby and his folks will take care of the Shanghaiese part. As for mandarin, I guess she will just have to pick it up from other conversation.

It seems like Zara understands what you say. After all, she did reply “bu yao” to your question. 😉

25. Tracy - April 18, 2006

Hahaha, Zara’s voice so cute and can duet with mummy.

No worries, no worries. When she enters kindy, I’m sure she’ll learn the 3 languages.

Destinee is speaking rojak languages with us now. She’s so used to speaking Cantonese (1 year with her nanny who spoke Cantonese only) and now when she’s speaking in ‘jap pa lang’ – Cantonese, a little of English, Mandarin and Malay.

26. domestic rat - April 18, 2006

Take your time.. maybe start with some interesting chinese cartoons to engage her interest in the language?

27. Mother Superior - April 18, 2006

She’s really cute.

28. geetha - April 18, 2006

Good, must teach her cantonese too. She will pick it up fast, as you start to teach her.

My son is also learning tamil. He speaks tamil when at in-laws.

29. Zara's Mama - April 18, 2006

I do let her listen to Chinese songs, especially the kids one. And on my way to work, I listen to the Chinese radio station in the car with her. 🙂

AAah.. the Chinese teacher is from his school, or you got a tutor for him?

My Mandarin also half pass six.. that’s why hard to converse to her. Anyway, I’m trying.

Guess, that someone will have to be mummy.. No one in the family speaks Mandarin.

Soon huh.. wait.. let her slowly learn. She can do the Wei-wei bu-yau pa also.. 😛

B’cos I like the song ma.. And wanted to teach her what a bird is in Chinese. 😛

Simple American,
Oh boy.. so both your kids don’t speak Chinese but you do? The one who call your kid stupid was a real bully!
Let her learn up more songs first.. Now she can only do the ending word in each phrase.

Blogie Talkie,
Nice song.. meaningful too.. But Zara doesn’t have a clue what it’s about. 😛

Gene Lim,
thank you thank you *pat myself on the back*

Yeah hor.. Sally Yeh!! 😛

Wow, you are exposing Belle to so many languages, she’ll be a real linguist!

That’s the thing loh.. if you expose them to too many languages, they’ll speak campur campur.

Starting with songs first.. 😛

Mother Superior,

I’m not so keen in Cantonese but more so in Mandarin. More useful as a whole. 😛
Aaa.. that’s good, they speak the mother tongue. Mine is Hokkien, but I’m not even exposing her to any which is a shame.

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