As an American Born Chinese raise in Hong Kong, I can’t help but notice how more and more Chinese people are leaving behind the language. With Hong Kong’s rich cultural diversity and students leaving to study abroad, I can feel the language slowly becoming extinct. For me it’s quite embarrassing not knowing how to read or write the language even though I was brought in Hong Kong surrounded by Chinese culture. From my experience, languages are one of the harder subjects to improve on as it requires the most amount of time. In addition, without reinforcement through constant practice, I think it’s almost impossible to sustain. This is one of the main reasons student chose to study another language in school. Although learning a new language has it’s own challenges, some would argue that it’s easier to learn. It’s easier to learn because the expectations are lower, sometimes starting from scratch is easier than refining what you already know.
Graphic source: http://www.topit.me/album/981246?p=3
Within the system at my international school, there are three levels of Chinese classes: A, B, C. A being the class with the highest Chinese abilities. For 5 years I was forced to be in Chinese A and for years I sat in class not understanding anything. As a result I receive low grades and no motivation. Therefore, when I had the choice to choose to study Spanish instead, I jumped at the chance despite the opportunity to drop down to Chinese B. I think if I was not stuck in a class where I had little comprehension of the class content, I may be continuing to study Chinese. However, my school isn’t completely at fault here as a some students with the ability to survive A class, have been attempting to drop down a level in hopes of getting a flawless grade.
Unfortunately, in our current society where grades appear to be critical to a student’s success, maintaining our culture is not a priority.
Image source: http://www.homenet.com.hk/learn-cantonese.html