The short story is, we’re considering staying in Taiwan for 3 months like we did 2 years ago and I’m starting the planning process.
The Long Story
A few moths ago, Thumper started speaking English, even when she’s in Chinese play dates. By this I mean she clearly knows the words in Chinese but she didn’t want to speak it. She seemed to want to flaunt her English for some reason.
After yelling at her a few times, I went into Project Speak Chinese mode and I started contemplating a stay in Taiwan again. I guess I should be glad that out last stay lasted us 2 years of Chinese speaking.
During our last trip we stayed 6 weeks in Taipei and 6 weeks in Taichung. Between deciding to go and actually getting on the plane took only one month. I did no planning whatsoever other than buying plane tickets and securing a place to live with relatives.
Our whole time there we acted as local tourists. By this I mean we lived like locals who didn’t have to work. There were many days of going to the park and some days of visiting touristy spots. I got to know some of the ins of living as a local, such as getting bank accounts and checking out books from libraries.
This time around, since we’re actually homeschooling I’m planning almost a year ahead of time. I plan to document what I find for future reference.
The first thing I’m trying to decide is whether or not to put the kids in local schools. It was my goal originally but hearing some stories of hard adjustments gave me second thoughts.
I know every experience is different and just because someone had a bad experience doesn’t mean we will. But I’m thinking the glass is half empty because:
- My kids are hapa. Nothing makes you stand out more than looking different. I watched several episodes of WTO 姐妹會 where they had a bunch of hapa kids come and discuss their childhood experience. Many of them said that they had a hard time in elementary and a better time in high school. Though now a days hapa kids are more prevalent so it hasn’t been as bad.
- My kid have not lived in Taiwan every summer since birth and are not too aware of cultural norms. We definitely hit against some of that the last time we went back.
- My kids have mostly been homeschooled and have no experience in a large classroom environment.
Reason #3 got me to really think about just what the kids will be doing if they went to school in Taiwan. It reminded me that part of the reason I homeschool is my perceived idea of how schools are here. I thought about how worksheets and choosing the right answer (even if it makes no sense) is prevalent in Taiwan. I know it’s much better than it was years ago, but if I’m choosing to homeschool here, I doubt I would like it much better there.
Do I want to experience that?
But what about Chinese? I mean the whole reason going back is to up the kids’ spoken Chinese. As the Great O says, next year is the last year where it’ll be easy to go back to school in Taiwan. Thumper will be in 3rd grade then. If we don’t go to school how will we gain maximum effect in upping Chinese level?
It occurred to me today that this is the exact same argument people have in the US about homeschooling in Chinese. How will the kids learn English without meeting lots of English speaking kids? (I’m talking about bilingual kids like mine.)
When that question is asked, I think about how we are bilingual at home and the kids have a lot of opportunities to speak English. I can speak English in Taiwan if I really want to maintain the kids’ Chinese.
I also often tell people homeschooling is just a different way of educating kids. You don’t learn less this way. It’s just different. Following this logic, I can do the same thing in Taiwan. If I do my research, I can find classes where the kids can speak Chinese. I can set up playdates for the kids to socialize. It takes just as much effort in the US and in Taiwan to provide socialization opportunities. Well, with perhaps the potential problem of me not knowing where to find resources and not wanting to socialize myself.
But I have 9 months to research and figure it out! Worse comes to worst, we can try and enroll the kids in school somewhere….
P.S. The last time we were there, Thumper was supposedly in kindergarten. So I called it our Gap Year Adventure. This time Astroboy will be in first grade. It’ll be a delayed Gap Year Adventure for him too!