“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”… “Baa Baa Black Sheep”… Stop! Gone were the days where Gen Z kids sing nursery rhymes and children songs! My two Gen Z girls have established their own pop culture of singing Hokkien Songs!
Under the influence of their grandparents (paternal and maternal), my 2 “GenZies”, 6 and 3 have cultivated a “strange” interest in Taiwanese drama serials. They never fail to sit in front of the TV at 430 pm on weekdays and 7 pm on weekends. They are not fascinated about the handsome actors or beautiful actresses, nor are they interested in the happenings in shows. What really entice them are the Hokkien songs!
My GenZ-ians are Hokkien songs fanatics! Their grandparents, who are impressed by their extraordinary talent decided to unleash their potential by exposing them to more Hokkien songs via VCDs and bringing them to watch Ge-Tai on the 7th lunar month. The amazing part is that they are able to learn the songs in an ultra fast pace and within two days, you will hear them humming and singing on their way home. This is exactly analogous with the findings of most research where children learn language rapidly in early year of life.
Like all mothers, i have high expectations of my 2 GenZies. Therefore, it is inevitable to be concerned when they start learning Hokkien songs initially. My view then was that frequent exposure may compromise proficiency in English and Chinese.
But after some time, i realised that children learning dialects is not a bad thing after all. It can help to resurrect the “forgotten tongue” and unlock the obstacles between children and the older generation. Also, being trilingual i.e. learning dialects may not necessarily increase their burden since they are obviously enjoying it!
Parents need not be overly concerned that learning dialects may cause negative inferences on the learning standards of other languages, which are important to the kids’ academic and professional lives. It will not be if proper guidance is given and if sufficient time is allocated to the learning of each language.
So, i encourage all parents to keep an open mind and not be overly concerned if your GenZ children start conversing and singing songs in dialect!