I will gladly give my opinion. However, since I don’t really speak Korean, and Kimchi Man and I are not too keen on having children, I think msleetobe from On Becoming a Good Korean (Feminist) Wife has much more authority on this topic. She is a Canadian woman married to a Korean man, living in Korea, and recently had a beautiful baby boy who she calls Dragon on her blog. That’s why I asked her if she would write an answer and she kindly agreed. Here is a wonderful answer she gave:
Before our son was born, my Korean husband was searching for daycare options in our area, and he was informed by the operator of one that our son would be bullied unless I, an English-speaking Canadian, spoke only Korean to him at home. At best the woman was unaware of both the science and real live children who show that it is possible to successfully learn two or more languages at once during the formative years. At worst, she either believed that a father has no role in the home education of his child or that expats residing in Korea should give up their heritage in favour of Korean language and culture. That’s not what our family believes, and that’s not how we live our lives.
My husband speaks Korean to his three month old son each day. He also sings him Korean songs, reads Korean books, and watches Korean shows with him while at the same time subtly imparting Korean culture just as any other father. Our son hears only Korean from his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He will attend Korean daycare, kindergarten, and elementary school, and he will most likely speak Korean on the playground as he gets older. Living here and being immersed in the culture, we feel pretty confident that he will speak Korean just fine. And if he needs extra assistance, there’s a plethora of hogwans (after school academies) and private or government-sponsored tutors to fill the gap.
However, while I may use Korean words here and there, I will not be speaking Korean on a regular basis to our son. The reason is simple: language experts say that children best learn and separate different languages if each parent speaks one language to the child. Of course, practically speaking, we tend to speak mostly English at home, so our son will naturally hear his father conversing in English, and in public, he will hear his mother interacting with store clerks, taxi drivers, etc. in Korean. Nevertheless, the main interaction our son has with each of his parents should be in their native tongue because then he can learn proper pronunciation, grammar, and idiomatic expressions. I also have a responsibility to pass on my language and culture to our child, and I actually anticipate this job being even harder because his world outside our home will not only be all Korean, but also full of Konglish. I imagine that one day I will be frustrated by our son saying ‘diamond’ in four syllables instead of two, or battling with his English teachers when they tell him he has to use ‘color’ instead of ‘colour’ or ‘zee’ instead of ‘zed’ as a result of the influence of American English in Korean schools. But despite the small hurdles we will face with trying to pass on two languages and cultures to our child, it is an important endeavour. Our son is both Korean and English-Canadian, and it is our responsibility and privilege to help him understand his heritage and prepare him for an increasingly globalised world where cultural awareness and bilingualism are increasingly important skills.
I sincerely thank msleetobe on her answer. And here is mine:
Kimchi Man and I are currently in Europe, but our plan is to permanently relocate to Korea. If I would manage to learn Korean and if I would move to Korea and if I had a baby, then, yes, I would speak Korean to her/him.
My native language is spoken by far fewer people than Korean is so I would much rather that from very young age my child learns English as a second language. Msleetobe has the advantage of English being her native language.
I have seen over and over again how important English is in today’s world. After all, my love life as well as my (future) professional life would be much worse off without English. Kimchi Man and I talk to each other exclusively in English and that is probably not going to change any time soon.
Not to mention that without English I would have never been able to start this blog.
Knowing many languages is both useful and exciting. I would encourage my child to learn other languages later on in life but let her/him choose which ones.
However, if we chose to live in country other than Korea, then I would do my best to speak the language of the country I am in. That, of course, includes my own country. I guess the language I would choose to speak to my child depends on the country my child would grow up in, not the countries where its mother and father were born. But as you can see from my answer, there are a lot of “ifs” and future is impossible to predict, so I would leave all options open.
If you had to live with your child in a foreign country, which language would you speak to her/him? Would you prefer raising a bilingual or a trilingual child?
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|[Interview] Canadian woman married to a Korean man living in Korea – Msleetobe||[Q&A] Will my Korean man marry me?||[Q&A] Is my dream of going to South Korea going to turn into a nightmare?|