Blast from the past

After we immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong, my parents tried to keep me and my sister bilingual by continuing to teach us Chinese. Because my mother was a teacher in Hong Kong, she was able to procure discarded textbooks to use with us in Canada.

My friend Joy Chu (https://gotstorycountdown.wordpress.com/author/gotstorycountdown/) requested some photos of the younger grades’ primers, so I took a few to share here.

The first two photos are from “upper” (or first semester) first grade books:

FullSizeRender(14)FullSizeRender(13)The cover for the second book looks like this…so adorably garish in that 70s way:

IMG_0342This next image is from lower (second semester) first grade:

FullSizeRender(12)It seems noticeably more complex than the upper grade.

My mom may have lugged the school books over for nothing, really. She used these to teach my sister, who was 4 when we moved, but I was already in third grade and she launched into classic poetry and ancient texts almost right away.

Here’s one of the texts we had to learn and memorize. I don’t actually know the date of origin for this book, but it has to be over a hundred years old, if not much older. I really need to ask my dad.

IMG_0346Take a peek inside:

IMG_0345I wasn’t very interested in learning this stuff back then, but now I regret not having paid closer attention while my mom was still alive.

A reminder that I’ll post the compilation of participant links for the first ever #SelfieArt day in a couple of days, so if anyone is still thinking about posting theirs, please do so and let me know!

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19 thoughts on “Blast from the past

  1. Beautiful workbooks! My family moved from Okinawa to the states when I was 12. My mother wanted us completely immersed in American culture. It didn’t take long before my younger sister spoke only English. I wished we had kept up a bit more. I can understand Japanese and speak it if I think hard but it’s no longer natural. I remember that it was high school when I began to dream in English rather than in Japanese. 😊

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  2. Oh, that’s so sad that you couldn’t keep up with your Japanese. I feel the same about me because I used to be able to read Chinese fairly well, but after I got married and moved away to places where I didn’t have the community to maintain that, my Chinese has deteriorated. Maybe you can re-learn it at some point for your own enjoyment and to share with your kids?

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  3. I hope so. I still speak to my mother in Japanese but it’s really a mix of English and Japanese. My oldest is taking Mandarin now and I can read some of the characters, though they have different pronunciation in Japanese..

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  4. I know what you mean: it’s often Chinglish that I speak with my parents…harder with my dad since his English is not the best. My mom knew English pretty well, and I used to rely on her to translate for Dad, but she passed away almost 5 years ago…I miss her for many reasons, not the least of which was her translation abilities. :}

    My kids learned a bit of Mandarin, too. Even with the same writing system, words are pronounced very differently between dialects and I speak Cantonese so I wasn’t much help in the speaking part of learning Mandarin. 🙂

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  5. What an amazing gift to pass onto your children. Chinese has to be the most difficult of languages for Americans to study. You are so lucky to have these books – they are priceless. Out of curiosity, do you speak Mandrin with an accent? We adopted a 13-year-old son from India. He has an accent in English and an accent in his native language of Tamil. He still speaks Tamil, but when he visits India people are perplexed.

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  6. I never knew you have an adopted son from India, Pat! Is this recent or has it been a while?

    I actually speak Cantonese, not Mandarin, but I have no accent. That’s what my cousins told me (though I already knew it) when we visited them in Hong Kong in 2013. They said my sister has an accent but I don’t…which makes sense as I was 8 when we immigrated but she was only 4 years old. That’s very interesting that your son has an accent in his native tongue given that he was fairly old when he moved here. My undergrad degree is in linguistics so that fascinates me. 🙂

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  7. Aww, thanks for sharing my experience with me! English is definitely our dominant language now but it’s nice to be able to speak Cantonese a bit to hold on to our heritage. 🙂

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