Student or Learner
I'd like to hear your opinions or ideas about the issue below:
A child was adopted from China (for example). His/her adoptive parents are from the english-speaking world. Should the child be taught his/her supposed mother tongue -- Chinese? Would it be right if his/her parents wish to keep their adopted child from learning the language? What would you do if you were in the parents' place?
Possible advantages and disadvantages?
It's funny you should mention that. A few months ago I was contacted by an American with the same surname as mine -- it's a very rare surname, and anyone with the same name could well be related, so we exchanged a few e-mails and decided that we weren't directly related, but who knows, maybe distantly.
Well, he had also adopted a Chinese girl, and I found an article in a newspaper about precisely this issue, in which my possible relative was interviewed.
His view was this: He and his wife were American. They lived on a farm in America. Their adopted daughter was being brought up as an American. They couldn't speak Chinese themselves, and Chinese was of little use in America anyway. If she wanted to learn Chinese when she was older, or even "get in touch" with her culture, they were fine with that, but (reading between the lines here) for now, that was a luxury they couldn't really afford. For a child to be brought up bilingually, they need to spend a lot of time with native speakers of both languages, and in this situation that wasn't practical.
If a child has the opportunity to be brought up bilingually, that chance should be seized, there's no question of that. But if you can't give a child a bilingual environment to grow up in, it's not possible.
As regards Chinese, there's an additional problem. There are many dialects of Chinese; if your adopted child grows up with the local Hong Kong community, say, and learns Cantonese, but their parents speak only Mandarin, you're certainly not allowing the child to get in touch with their "own culture" -- although being bilingual is never a disadvantage.