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Hi everyone. I am from HK and I can speak Cantonese (mother tongue), Mandarin and English. My husband is Japanese. We live in Japan. My baby is coming to this world this year end.

Apparently my husband will be responsible for Japanese but I don’t know if I should speak English or Cantonese to my baby. Cantonese is mainly a spoken dialect, which is not proper Chinese. But my family back in HK they all speak Cantonese.

My friends all ask me to speak to him in Cantonese coz it’s hard to learn – unlike English, which is so easy to learn. i dunno what to do… @.@”

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Hi Sharon — First and foremost congratulations…your family must be very excited about the baby. 

I would speak Cantonese with your baby as it is your native language and what your family in HK speaks.  Not sure if you want to go as far as have him be literate in Chinese also, but at the very least it would be nice if he can converse with them when he is older…? 

You may also try to look up English playgroups or classes in your area if you do want to tackle teaching all three.  Japan does have quite a few English tutorial type of programs geared for little kids, and so I’d research your options…if not from birth, then maybe to try when baby is a little older…?

My son is currently 17 months, and we are trying to raise him to understand Japanese, English, and Cantonese.  We live in the States and so he gets English spoken around him out of the home, but when I am alone with him I speak in Japanese.  When my husband is alone with him, he speaks in Cantonese, and we try to spend time with his parents (from HK) every weekend, and they speak Cantonese to him then also.  Not sure if our efforts will show the results we hope for, but we know he at least understands and responds to all three languages as of now — English and Japanese is stronger than Cantonese as he is around me more than anyone else.

I have a blog at and would welcome any comments or insight you have if you’re interested…!  Good luck on whichever languages you decide on.

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Thx Emi for your advice!

Am sure your baby will pick up all three langauges no problem! ‘wink’
Let me look for English playgroup around my area!
Yvonne Chia

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I like to know how far your son as progress in the languages. I am sure every child is different. I am looking for help right now for my 3 year old son who may need speech therapy.
We speak Cantonese, English and French. I speak Cantonese and English. My husband French and English. So seemed that he is confused and needs to organized his languages.
Using my 19 months old girl as a reference she is speaking very well in Cantonese and adding slowly with English and she picks up French in a breeze with just a short exposure.


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Also, if you cant find or afford an English Playgroup in your area then why not host one? Or Co-op the playgroup with another english speaking mom?


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