Growing up bilingual

As a child, I can distinctly remember the Korean classes my mum used to give me and how bothersome it was learning another language when I just starting to learn English. Of course back then, I thought I had to learn Korean. It was a requirement as my mum could not speak proper English yet and if I did not learn Korean, I would not be able to communicate with my other family relatives like my grandma, my aunt, my cousins who are all monolingual. I wanted nothing more than to play around in our garden or have fun with my toys, yet every Saturday my mother would sit both my brother and I down to teach us Korean. Being so young, it was hard for my brain to adjust to learning two languages so I would always switch between Korean and English when speaking to my family members. One of my earliest memories I have of doing this is when I was 5 during a Korean class. My mother was testing me on words and I decided to speak in English (having just gotten back from a school), however my mum had trouble understanding me and thought I was muttering some weird made up language and did not realise I was speaking a mix of English and Korean until my brother had to point it out to her.

As a child learning Korean was so useless to me, I didn’t understand why I had to learn it but growing up I realise how lucky I am that my mother never gave up on teaching us Korean. Thanks to her I am able to speak two languages fluently and because I can speak the language, I can feel a cultural connection to Korea.

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