In 2012, my husband, 6-month old daughter, and I moved from NYC to settle down in Dallas. I left my old life as a Product Manager at American Express to become a stay-at-home mom. My first year as a new mom felt thrilling and lonely. I was still learning the ropes of raising a child for the first time and I missed having my friends and family around to support me. Motherhood can feel isolating at times and I found the best way to avoid it was to communicate with my mom, grandmother, and other moms as often as possible. Who better to turn to, when you need to vent about your third sleepless night in a row, brag about your baby’s latest milestone, or laugh about the time you went to the grocery store with your shirt on backwards?
Maintaining those strong family connections really helped me get through the first tough years of motherhood. I called my mom almost every day. She would chat with me in Mandarin Chinese about what she went through as a new mom and I learned so much about my parents, grandparents, and family history during that time. My experience was so enlightening, it motivated me to encourage that strong family bond in my children too. I hoped my kids would also grow up to have close relationships within the family.
One way I determined to help my children stay connected to their family was through the gift of language. I wanted to raise my daughters to speak both English and Mandarin Chinese. I knew being bilingual can bring many benefits for children. It can help sharpen the mind, improve multi-tasking abilities, foster academic achievement, and strengthen communication skills. It can even delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease! But my main reason to teach them a second language was that I simply wanted them to speak the same language as their grandparents. If they can speak Chinese to their grandparents, they can learn all the rich history of their family heritage like I did. I made it my goal to teach my children Chinese.
“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” ~ Rita Mae Brown
After my first daughter was born, I had no clue where to begin when I embarked on my mission. Just like learning any new skill or sport, learning a language requires an investment in your time or money to help a child master it. I searched everywhere for language learning programs or language learning games for children. I specifically looked for Mandarin for kids and Chinese flashcards, but couldn’t find many resources out there. I also thought about enrolling my toddlers in a Chinese preschool -- but it was neither an affordable nor practical option for us because the closest school was at least 20 miles away. I knew there had to be a better way to teach young children a second language.
That was how the idea of Jamma Jango was born. My years as a Product Manager helped me bring my passion to life and after two years of research, development, and testing with other parents and children, I was ready to share my creation. Jamma Jango is an all-in-one box filled with cartoon videos, flashcards, stickers, language learning games, and a discussion guide. It’s a language learning program designed to make acquiring a foreign language fun and easy for young children. Even if you’ve never learned it before, to teach kids Spanish or Chinese shouldn’t feel intimidating. It should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Jamma Jango is now available both in Mandarin and Spanish for toddlers. It’s a great, versatile tool for all parents (working and stay-at-home) who want to supplement their child’s foreign language education at home or who want to use this program to add to their Spanish homeschool or Chinese homeschool curriculum.
I think most moms can relate when I say motherhood can be a delightful, challenging, and humbling experience all rolled into one. Without those first-time mom experiences, I wouldn’t have learned how important it is to instill a strong sense of family and community to my children. Those events also helped me create a language product that I hope will help other parents who want their children to be bilingual. I’ve met so many wonderful moms who are just as passionate about giving their children the best possibilities in life – whether it’s connecting their children with their heritage, introducing them to new cultures and languages, or challenging their brains with a highly-valuable skill. Most of all, I’m pleased to say my kids can speak both English and Mandarin Chinese. It took some patience and consistent practice to get there, but it brings me great joy when I see my daughters talk to their grandparents in their native language. A strong and loving bond between a child and their family is all I could ever ask for.