In the past, some first generation immigrants believed that it was okay for their children to forget Korean language; it was thought to be necessary for the childrentosuccessfully assimilate into the mainstream American society. Consequently, most second-generation immigrants from that time could not speak Korean. It seems to change now. A lot of people argue that speaking Korean fluently can be an important asset no matter where one lives; I agree to this opinion.
The American Ambassador to Korea, Sung Kim (Korean name: Sung Young Kim), speaks Korean almost perfectly. Of course he finished elementary school in Korea before he immigrated to the States, but his Korean language skills are what made him popular in Korea. Besides, his fluent Korea has increased his chances from the beginning of his career as a diplomat, and thanks to his Korean language skills, he participated in the six-party talks for Korean peninsular. Surely “Language is Power.”
Language is important in childeducation, too. We cannot emphasize too much the importance of parental role in child rearing. Especially when children are in high school and in college, when they confront questions and crisis in life,parents’ role as life coaches is very important. If child and parents cannot communicate fully because the child cannot speak Korean and parents cannot speak English, they cannot share their questions and emotions. Consequently, they become somewhat aloof. Teenagers do need their parents’ support; they need their parents to stay beside them and understand their emotions. Of course, if parents can speak perfect English, there will be no problem; if not so, parents should be very careful.
Child education is the responsibility of the parents. Our children spend just one day a week at church, just a couple of hours at that; our church will study and find some practical ways to help parents who have middle/high school students. In this respect, too, it is very important for our children not to forget Korean.
To do so, it is necessary for parents and children to often have meaningful conversation in Korean at home. Parents need to ask children to use Korean for them even when children fall back into English. It helps a lot to give Korean books to read and to let them watch good Korean dramas when they get older. And if circumstances allow, we can send our children (when they are either in high school or in college) to Korea. With our timely encouragement and help, they will not forget the mother language of their ancestors.
Likewise, Korean language is very important in our relationship with our children, and it becomes a rich asset for them later in their life. It is relatively easy to master the mother language of their parents; let us help our children to remember Korean.
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