Since I was a wee babe, mama has been conversing with me solely in English except for flashcards and storybooks. Papa was supposed to converse with me solely in mandarin. But some things are beyond our control...
As I grew up, the only person who was consistent was mama, who spoke in whole and complete English sentences to me as far as she could. Yeye and nainai spoke to me in a mixed bag of English and mandarin. Shushu speaks to me in mostly English and papa started to speak more and more English to me too. Everybody found it easier to speak to me in English because I understood more of that and spouted mostly English. It is actually a vicious cycle. Since Mama is my main caregiver, spoke only English to me and loves describing things in lengthy details to me, I naturally understood more English than mandarin.
My English word bank expanded. I understood many things and responded well when spoken to in English. But when spoken to in mandarin (by nainai and papa), I sometimes ignore or responded back in English. Hence nainai, yeye and papa used more and more English and less mandarin with me, because they thought I will understand better.
Mama started to get worried that I will take to 1 language more than the other. She feels that Mandarin is far more complex to master. It will be a great pity if I lose the interest in the language from a tender age due simply to lack of exposure. She urged papa to use mandarin as he was supposed to. But it was easy for papa to forget. Most of the times he spoke to me in English, simply because it was more fun since I was much more expressive in English than mandarin.
Seeing that I enjoyed GUG mandarin lessons (only 20mins each time, twice a week) and was eager to learn new words, Mama decided to converse more with me in Mandarin. She did not want to start talking to me in Mandarin as she worried this might confused me. So she used storybooks instead. During storytime and GUG mandarin time, she will speak wholly in mandarin to me. This proved effective because I picked up many new words and sentences! Now I can converse in mandarin mostly in complete sentences with nainai on my own accord because I know that Mandarin is her strong language. I enjoy mandarin storytelling with mama alot. Each day will not go by without a chinese book.