Tag: Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese

mother tongues stories

Communication and relationships

mother tongues stories

We are a small family of three. I am a French mother living in Dublin since my teenage years, and with my Irish partner, we have a daughter. I see my ability to ensure she speaks French as a gift that I would be selfish to keep to myself.

mother_tonguesThe technical side of being bilingual is useful of course: being able to settle in various countries, being able to learn new languages with perhaps a little more ease, having more chances of finding a job. But for me, the most important lesson is to make my child aware that despite all having different tongues, we are all humans and we can all communicate.
I feel that children who grow up without hearing other languages are less likely to approach others in the playground and they are more reticent to communicate with foreign children and therefore are more reticent as adults.

My favourite moment was witnessing my daughter play when she was a toddler (and only speaking French) with a handful of bilingual and trilingual children. None of them spoke the same language, yet they had no problem at all to communicate and have fun with each other. I feel that Dublin is the best setting for this, as it is swarming with the wealth of a myriad of first-generation immigrants.

In a paradoxical way, I think bilingualism transcends the need for language as it encourages people to communicate rather than speak. 

Author: Emilie Akoka

We are looking for more stories! Would you like to share yours? Send an email to info@mothertongues.ie and we will get in touch soon!





mother tongues stories

My family’s adventures in bilingualism

We are a French family
. A mum, a dad and three girls. All born in France, we settled in Dublin nearly two years ago when our daughters were 3 months, 3 years and 6 years.
We decided to go on this adventure in order to learn English and broaden our horizons. We have always thought of bilingualism as a gift, a way to open our minds and a tool for new discoveries.

We all found our spot in this new world at our own pace. We have discovered that beyond the positive aspects of learning the language, bilingualism has provided us with a new window out of which we can observe our children and both our languages English and French have become a fundamental part of our family.
Language is often part of our daily conversations. We reflect on the meaning of phrases and metaphors, we think about how we choose words and we discuss pronunciation. We encourage and help each other.

Now that we live in Ireland our challenge is to keep a strong link with the French language while learning the language of our host country, in which our children live their lives every day. The new country, its language and its culture have become part of the children’s lives and of their identity.

We think it is important to maintain their spoken as well as their written French. Orally it is done through us, parents, the rest of the family, our circle of francophone friends, through songs, stories and films. We keep up their writing skills using books.
When it comes to English, we trust our environment, the school, their friends and mostly, we trust our girls.

Author: Charlotte Petit

We are looking for more stories! Would you like to share yours? Send an email to info@mothertongues.ie and we will get in touch soon!


The gift of language

Raising multilingual children has always been a mission to me, I have gone too deep to give up.

After my second child was born, I gave up my job to give the gift of language to my children, posh Mandarin Chinese that is spoken in Taiwan. Despite challenges, with the great support of my “quiet” partner, my children are not only talking to me still, but we can discuss news in Mandarin.

mt_stories_evan_furlongAlthough bilingualism may come easily when children are young, as soon as they start to attend the mainstream schools, English, the lingua franca dominates their heritage languages.  It is imperative, however, to maintain the reflex of using mother tongue with your children regardless of what language they respond back.
At least, the listening skill is contained and there is a slight chance of passing the mother tongue to the third generation.
My children and I have this mutual reflex that we must force our brains to speak English to each other when we had to, and it didn’t feel natural.

Everyone is aware of the benefits of multilingualism.  The young generation’s second or third languages in European countries are far better than their peers herein Ireland where they spent the same amount of time studying a language. It is not only a lack of motivation, but also lack of environment.  There are significantly more learning prospects in English than other languages in the media.  Parents need to create opportunities.

A few tips for parents based on my own experience.
I meet up with friends who speak Mandarin to their children regularly.  I read stories to them in Mandarin up to they were ten.  I encourage them to read and study the same.  I listen to Chinese songs with them.  I volunteer in their school to promote Chinese culture and language annually.  I spent time watching silly cartoons or movies in Mandarin with my teens.  I take every car journey as an opportunity to discuss current affairs.  I do not care if I embarrass them in front of their peers.  I text them in Chinese words and pinyin too sometimes.  I take them home to Taiwan as much as I can afford.  I felt that I have invested in too deep that there is no turning back.

To finish I have a few words from my husband on his perspective.

“It is fantastic that my children converse with ease and fluency in Mandarin with their mother.  It is the only language they speak with her.  Even now with them in their teens, there is no resistance to conversing in Mandarin, it’s just a completely natural thing for them to do, having always done so.  For the most part, it does mean I don’t know what they are talking about, but that can be a good thing sometimes as well”.

Author:  Evan Furlong

We are looking for more stories! Would you like to share yours? Send an email to info@mothertongues.ie and we will get in touch soon!


Summer Mandarin Chinese Immersion Camp is now enrolling!

SummerCamp12th to 16th August 2019 from 10:00-15:00 at NWETSS on Putland Road, Bray.

Chinese curriculum will be ready as a leaving certificate subject for beginners/5th-year pupils in Sept 2020 and pupils can take Chinese as a leaving cert subject in June 2022.

Each year, Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese designs a brand new theme based Summer Mandarin Immersion Camp to entertain the students and the theme for 2019 is learning all about the 16 indigenous tribes in Taiwan. We would be keeping the old tradition too as pupils love them – activities such as X factor, calligraphy, Chinese painting, Chinese culinary art, arts & crafts, outdoor games and sound mapping project.
Cost: €150 a week including fruits, snacks, water, lunch and all materials (10% sibling discount).

Register here

Mother Tpngues storytelling

Mother Tongues Storytelling projects

Over the last 12 months, we have been working with Chester Beatty Library and Dolphin’s Barn Library on two family storytelling projects. We have experimented both with bilingual storytelling, where every child can join in and try to engage with a dual language story and with single language storytelling, where facilitators and parents only read in the children’s heritage language.
This was a fantastic experience for children who hear their heritage language only spoken at home, as it showed children that libraries and other public places welcome their language and heritage, and storytelling in the heritage language can be a fun community activity.
Language adventures, Raising bilingual children, Mother Tongues, multilingualism, bilingualism, DublinOur multilingual storytelling project Language Adventures started at Dolphins Barn Library with a series of six mornings in which Italian speaking mothers and fathers read and told stories to their children.
The atmosphere was great, and the children enjoyed the unfamiliar experience of reading in Italian in a public space.
Each session also included arts and craft activities which allowed parents to get to chat with one another and make new friends.
Both Claudia from Mother Tongues and Beata, head librarian at Dolphin’s Barn library were extremely enthusiastic and pleased with the outcomes of the first few meetings, so we planned a multilingual storytelling series, including Polish, German, Chinese and Lithuanian. Each session was quite unique, and we allowed families to choose their style of facilitation.
For Polish storytelling, we gathered a fantastic group of Polish parents who read famous stories from their home country and created beautiful bear masks. The German storytelling turned out to be a toddler book reading and parents had the opportunity to meet other parents and to ask questions about bilingualism.

In February we were delighted to host Evan Furlong, director of the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese, who told children and parents how the 12 animals of Chinese Zodiac were chosen and ranked. This storytelling was bilingual, which meant that stories were told in both Chinese and English.
The following month we hosted the Lithuanian Saturday School. They read the story of the fox and the bear explaining why the fox is considered the smartest animal in the forest and the bear’s tail is so short. We were amazed at the children’s incredible reading skills in their heritage language and this special event was made even more special thanks to the visit of Virginija Umbrasiene of the Lithuanian Embassy. You could definitely see that the children were proud and happy to be able to speak Lithuanian.

Our next events at Dolphins Barn Library will be in Greek and French. The Greek storytelling is organised in collaboration with the Hellenic Community of Ireland School and it will take place on 27th April at 10.30. This event will allow everyone to get a glimpse into Greek language and culture, and it will be held in Greek and English. On 25th May you will meet author Juliette Saumande for an hour of stories and songs in French. We will even make our own books at the end.
In collaboration with the Chester Beatty Library, we organised more multilingual storytelling sessions in Chinese, Greek, Lithuanian and Japanese. These events are held bilingually – English and the corresponding language. The first two were well attended and much appreciated by the public.

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Third Edition of the Mandarin Chinese Summer Camp

More and more language classes are emerging around Ireland. Some of them seek to promote the learning of a new language, and some support the learning and maintenance of heritage languages, which are the languages the child speaks in the home environment. Many families have the opportunity to travel to their home country and immerse the children in the language. This experience often results in a boost in heritage language skills and gives the child to really experience the language by interacting with peers and with the extended family.
For those who would like to experience a similar immersion experience, Summer immersion camps are the best opportunity to be exposed to the language in a fun way, without travelling too far from home. The Summer immersion camp organised by the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese is now in its third edition and it promises to be a fun and rewarding learning experience.
“Many research studies have shown that there are significant benefits to learning a second language at an early age such as oral proficiency, intrinsic motivation, effortless engagement, positive attitudes, higher phonological and grammatical abilities. The most effective language acquisition and highest proficiency methods of teaching and learning any languages are through immersion in that target language as well as to embrace the cultural dimension” says Evan Furlong, founder of the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese.
“Irish students have many advantages of thriving in the 21st century: speaking the world’s business language today, English as lingua franca the ease of learning a second language as being bilingual from an early age (Gaeilge and English) and the only English-speaking country in the EU after Brexit. It would be a shame if we do not seek the opportunity of learning the target language of future economic powerhouse, Mandarin Chinese.”
Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese is running its 7th Summer Mandarin Chinese Immersion Camp that offers many fun activities such as Chinese arts, crafts, cooking, songs and fun with Chinese characters. Please click HERE to read the programme details.
For more information about our school, visit www.dsmc.biz or contact Evan Furlong at 0879911614.

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The principal of the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese visits our group in December

It has been fantastic to have Evan Furlong as our guest speaker for the Christmas edition of our families’ meeting. Evan moved to the cold emerald isle from exotic Taiwan 17 years ago and she is raising two multilingual children.
Evan talked to the group about some of the challenges of raising bilingual children in families where parents speak different languages and shared some of her tips based on her experience as a parent and a teacher of multilingual children.
In her experience, despite much research has shown the benefits of using two languages from an early age, it is still common to meet parents who give up their mother tongue.
In her talk, Evan tried to encourage parents to persevere and to use their mother tongue when talking to their children as much as possible.
Evan does not believe in the stereotypical “Tiger Mom” methods but believes that it is important to encourage children to learn their parents’ language and to also learn about the culture of their parents’ countries of origin.
Evan has a Masters in Education from UCD, and she is the principal of the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese, which has its base in Greystones, County Wicklow.
The school offers weekly classes and summer camps to primary and secondary school children.
To find out more about the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese, you can visit their website www.dsmc.biz/ and their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DublinMandarinSchool/
Evan will also run an exciting Chinese papercutting workshop for kids 8+ at our Mother Tongues Festival. Find out more here.
Claudia Kunkel