The Arrival of Nina Binse / 俞凝南 & OPOL

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Nina Binse, aka 俞凝南, came to the world super on time on the 18th of January, 2012, 3:06pm local Sydney time. She’s a healthy 3.45kg / 51cm baby.

BTW, that made her one of the 5% babies who arrive on their due date (natural birth). One friend commented: ‘she’s already showing a talent of punctuality :)’. Indeed!

The first words spoken to her by her mum was: ‘你好 Nina’, and by her dad: ‘bonjours Nina’. Both mean ‘hello Nina’. With big smiles and amazement of the magical creature we spoke these words. And for me with enormous relief that the labour was F I N A L L Y over. I had a natural delivery using only gas – the official document says that the labour lasted only 5 hours 44 minutes. What the offical document didn’t say was the one whole day of pre-labour I had gone through before that 5 hours 44 minutes, the last 9+ hours of which were already painful enough for me to head to hospital believing that labour already started. By the time I realized that gas would not be sufficient and it was getting way too much, I was told it’s too late to use any other drugs because the baby was coming. So I had to push it through, literally. Nothing, I mean really nothing, had prepared me for THAT level of pain and I think my mind had to detach from my body to remain somehow half-conscious, and Nicolas said that he never realized I had so much force that his arms were almost twisted broken by me, lol (he was such a fabulous supporter during whole process, merci palomito). It was an outer-body experience, to say the least.

Enough rambling, back to the serious staff 🙂 So by day 1, Nicolas and I started with the OPOL – one parent one language – approach. In this approach, each parent speaks respective language with the child, under all circumstances, so that the child gets enough exposure to all languages in the most natural way. I read that young children will have this natural abiltiy to distinguish the languages and acknowledge the fact that mum and dad are each speaking a different language to them, and in return would establish a language-per-parent communication system. They would have no problem switching between/among languages depending on the audiance.

My delivery doctor Dr. Seeho (who’s btw a fantastic doctor, I couldn’t ask for more) and quite a few midwifes at the Mater (hospital where Nina was born) are interested in – positively – the fact that we speak different languages to Nina. This allows us to be confident and comfortable in speaking ‘minority’ languages (Chinese/French vs English as mainstream language in Australia) with Nina even when there are other English-speaking person present. This takes off one of the most common pressures that many bi/tri-lingual parents face – feeling awkward/misunderstood/un-acknolweged/rude/embarassed in using a minority language in a social environment, as suggested by researches. It takes some determination, confidence, persistance, and sometimes a bit of luck to overcome this challenge.

I’m grateful that we are in a supportive environment to start with. Way to go.

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7 responses »

  1. Well, my experience is no matter which language Nina will catch first, she will be speaking English for most of the time once she goes to nursery or school. So my idea is why not pamper yourself with a relaxing massage or facial instead of trying hard to teach your little baby how to speak 😛

    Chinese is totally a different language other than English and French. It is easy for kid to be bilingual English and French/Spanish/Italian/ other thn Chinese and Mandarin, believe me.

    When my boy first talks, he is in Shanghainese. After one year at nursery in Shanghai, he only can speak Mandarin. And after another year at preschool in California, he forgot how to read Mandarin completely. Even he doesn’t recognize his name in chinese any more.

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    • thanks for providing differnet perspective and sharing your experience. positive or negative, all are valuable lessons. I’m currently speaking in Chinese with Nina no more than what any mother would speak to her child – all normal baby talks. the only difference is that all talks are in Chinese instead of English or any other language. So it’s not extra effort, at least for the moment 🙂
      will reflect on your experience and see what I can learn from it for when Nina becomes verbal and has a better idea on what SHE wants …

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  2. Pingback: 新的和旧的 « yin says … 鱼说

  3. Fantastic news Yin! What a gorgeous little girl. And also, well done deciding to use your own languages. It’s a gift us monolingual folk can’t give our children and it will last a lifetime. Lots of love xx Katie

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    • Thanks Katie! It’s with encouragement like this that would keep me & nicolas going … Hopefully Teo and Nina would meet some time soon 🙂 perhaps in kiwiland??

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