Updated: Jul 3, 2021
Today, we are featuring a fellow Cantonese mommy, Kaiyan, who runs her own Cantonese YouTube channel @HeyMommio and recently started a podcast "Us Mommios" as well. Last month, I was interviewed by Kaiyan, and we had a good laugh talking about Elimination Communication.
Let's get to know Kaiyan and her journey a bit more together.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and Us Mommios
My name is Kaiyan Wong, born in Macau, grew up in Hong Kong, came to the States as a foreign exchange student when I was in 12th grade in a small town in Iowa. After receiving my degree in advertising, I moved to Los Angeles to job hunt. I started working in sales and moved from west coast to east coast and climbed my way up to HR manager. I quit my career to be a full time mom because I have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and I want to fully embrace and enjoy every moment with my son. Right around Giannis was around two, I realized I was really missing having my own career. So I started a youtube channel, Hey Mommio, to help kids live overseas to learn Cantonese.
2) Why did you start Us Mommios?
During the journey of teaching my own son Cantonese, I have met so many Cantonese parents who are creative, dedicated and knowledgeable in teaching their own or other kids Cantonese. These parents are involved in projects such as YouTube channel, podcast, Zoom class, blog, writing books, running a Chinese school...etc. I admire all of them and since I don't enjoy writing as much, I decided to start a podcast and interview them.
My goal is to:
1. connect/ network with them and share our struggles/tips in teaching our kids Cantonese in foreign countries
2. create an additional exposure for Cantonese parents everywhere to get to know these content creators, educators, entrepreneurs.
3. To encourage other stay-at-home mothers to reach for their own dreams of whatever it might be. And I have been enjoying this project a lot more than I anticipated.
3) What are your top tips for parents starting to teach Cantonese to their children?
As many baby apps suggest that we narrate everything we do to our babies, we can do that with Cantonese. Keep speaking to them in Cantonese, even when they reply in a different language. For parents who are not fluent in Cantonese, we can increase the exposure of Cantonese to our children, it can be cartoons, music, playgroup (in person or virtually). Our kids ARE going to pick up some pieces even when they seem they are not paying attention. Most importantly, Have FUN together!
4) How did you overcome the challenge of your son refusing to speak Cantonese?
I don't think I have overcome the challenge yet. ha ha ha...
All jokes aside, what has been helping is I don't put so much pressure on myself and him. I followed his lead, based on his interests, I created games/activities for him to learn Chinese (Cantonese). Since he loves music, that's a natural motivation for him to sing some of his 90's Cantopop. Joining Ms Eveline Zoom sessions on Wednesday and Thursday helps, he sees so many other kids are speaking the coolest language!
5) Living in the States, how do you create a Chinese environment for your son?
It starts with sharing with him WHY it is important for him to learn Chinese. It is more than just a language. It is part of his root, where his ancestors are from. (I know, how much does a 3 year old can understand, probably not a lot but he can hear it from my passionate tone when talking about it)
We talk to my parents (non English speakers) almost everyday, he teaches my Mom English vocabulary and my Mom teaches him the same word in Cantonese. Win Win!
II visited many libraries in the surrounding area when I first moved to Texas to search for story time sessions. One of these sessions had many Chinese/Taiwanese children and moms, and I became friends with them. Kids get to learn from each other and they can hear us speaking to each other in Cantonese or Mandarin. Of course, the library is no longer opened for the public during pandemic. We stay in touch with some of them and we have individual playdates or video calls with each other.
Don't be shy and make friends with Cantonese families.
Involve the whole family, my husband is not Chinese and does not speak the language, but we make sure to invite his side of family to have traditional Chinese meals for any Chinese holidays, such as Mid-Autumn festival, Lunar New Year. We sit down and I tell them the meaning behind the dishes or the significance of the events.
Giannis also teaches Dad what he learned (word of the day), they like to compete who knows more Chinese characters.
6) Since your husband does not speak Cantonese, do you approach a OPOL method at home?
I don't exclusively speak to Giannis in Cantonese, I would say 90% of the time I do when it is just the two of us. The rest of the time if there are other people with us, I say almost everything in both languages.
7) What is your son's favorite Chinese activity to do?
Play 小明，Sing Cantopop songs 紅日，天梯，海濶天空，只想一生跟你走，分分鐘需要你 , Read books, repeat funny phrases after me 我愛你愛到發曬狂, 嘰哩咕嚕講乜嘢, 臭崩崩... (That's what I think anyways)
8) Your Instagram @heymommio describes some part time home schooling. What are the biggest considerations before homeschooling?
There are few areas, 1. Do I have the patience to teach him? 2. How do I find the most suitable curriculum and lesson plans for him? 3. Do I have time to create all of the materials? 4. Is he going to miss out on the social aspect?
My go-to people are mother, father, and sister-in-laws, they are all teachers and that helps! So utilize all the resources you have around you.
9) Being a YouTuber and running a podcast is hard work, on top of being a full time mom! What does your typical day look like?
Great question, don't forget to mention also a wife! Ha ha ha...
To help myself not to be "overwhelmed" which happens often, I have to ask myself what are my BIG rocks. Spending quality time with my family, community service… those are the non negotiable things that need my attention. The rest are small pebbles that will fall into any space that I could fit them in. At the end of the day my mission in life is not to have the shiniest floor.
Our morning routine is call Popo (婆婆) and Gong Gong(公公), singing and dancing time while I prepare breakfast, after breakfast I slip in some practical life activities, put away dishes, load up the dishwashers, clean up after ourselves, class, snack, outdoor play.
Afternoon, online classes or screen time while I am cooking, eat, clean up, story, song, nap. This is when I do most of my conference calls, tutoring Cantonese.
Evening, snack, flexible time for activities or playdates, dinner, family time, bath, story, song, sleep. My prime time to do editing! Thursday nights are date night.
I combine a lot of things together, for example, I record Giannis class activities. That checks off both teaching him and recording for youtube.
10) What are you most looking forward to in a post-COVID world?
Traveling, seeing family and friends!
11) What is your favorite Cantonese food?
That is so difficult because I am a foodie, but if I only have one favorite, I will have to say Dim sum (點心)!
12) What are your favorite Cantonese singers / actors?
The one and only Andy Lau (劉德華)! I have loved him since I was 10.