I want to pass on Japanese to my children as well

My children speak French with my husband, and Japanese with me. I’m looking forward to them beginning to attend Ottawa’s Japanese school in September. As a parent, I feel a little nervous because all notifications from the school will be in Japanese. I understand the culture quite a bit, but I don’t have the same experiences as a Japanese person who was raised in Japan and moved to a foreign country. I also never attended elementary school in Japan, so don’t quite know how I can contribute.

My mother did her best to get my Japanese up to a level I could use in college, but I don’t actually know how much I can do. But I also want to be able to speak Japanese with my children. Yet I still can’t help but feel uncertain, because I’ve already had to look things up or ask a friend for help when encountering unfamiliar cooking terms in my childrens’ textbooks. But I still want to be able to speak with my children as much as possible, because I think language is very important.

In addition to that, I believe language is crucial to my children as individuals. My own children are only a quarter Japanese, but from a white person’s perspective, I’m seen as Asian. And so they ask me, what kind of Asian? Can you speak the language? Japanese is part of my identity, so my response is natural. But my children are a quarter Japanese, so they’re instead asked, why are you speaking it? I think it’s crucial to interact with all kinds of languages in order to understand all kinds of ways of viewing the world, and knowing that, I feel motivated to keep working on Japanese with my kids.

Nowadays, there’s children from all over the world at school, and these children likely all speak different languages at home. So I don’t think it’s as unique as it was when I was little. I want being multilingual to become the norm in the 21st Century.