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我和Norris的故事

中英对照版 2018年第2期 梁睿 2018-07-13

Hickman是位于美国内布拉斯加州首府Lincoln南边的一个小镇,距离Lincoln大约25英里,人口不到3000,四季分明,环境优美,民风淳朴,是一个典型的美国中部小镇。走出小镇,是一望无际的玉米地,往南开车出去不到五分钟,一片规划整齐有序的建筑映入视野,那就是学校所在区域Norris了,从小学到高中都在一个区域,同时开课同时放学,这样便省去了一个家庭要在不同时间去不同地点接送孩子的麻烦,而且校车非常方便,会把孩子们安全高效地送到每家门口。

我和Norris的故事还得从3年前说起。2015年8月24日,我从西安交通大学来到美国内布拉斯加林肯大学孔院当汉语教师。我清楚地记得班上有8个学生,他们当中有在校大学生,有在读博士生,有牧师,有经济学教授,有打算去中国收养孤儿的年轻父母,还有公立学校的外语老师……他们都非常友好而礼貌,日后成为我非常好的朋友。

一年后,学生Mary邀请我去家里共度万圣节,给孩子们发糖的时候她问我能不能到她的学校给孩子们介绍一下中文中国文化,我说:“好啊!”很快她便和我所在的孔子学院取得联系,促成了合作。到现在我还记得第一次去Norris的情景。这些第一次见到中国人的美国孩子,显得特别新鲜和好奇。就这样,我每个学期分两次在Mary的课上为六年级的学生介绍中文和中国文化。

我在第一节课用聊天提问的方式找到一些我和他们的共同点,比如我的孩子和他们一样大,我们都住在各自国家的中部地区……然后我会用很多真实的图片和生动的小视频来介绍中国,学生们表现出极大的兴趣,尤其在我介绍故乡西安时,古老的历史遗产、现代的高楼和桥梁、热闹无比的新年庆祝活动,无法抗拒的美食,还有涌动的人群……让孩子们感到神秘而新鲜!

尽管他们对中国文化兴趣满满,但却和大多数美国人一样,对学习中文存在偏见,认为学中文太难了!于是,我通过全身反应法(TPR)的游戏教学方式,带领孩子们结合肢体动作记忆词汇。比如在15分钟之内让他们完全不借助英语便学会了一个大约60~70个汉字的故事,他们听得懂,说得明白,而且还能根据规律猜测一些汉字的含义。我用中文再次重复故事,学生们一起表演。随后,我又悄悄做了一些改编,学生们竟然都可以准确无误地表达出来,这无疑大大增强了他们的信心,也激发了学习汉语的热情。就这样,第一天的课程很快结束了,学生们却纷纷表示意犹未尽。

接下来我分别选取了数字、日期、颜色和生肖几个主题。有意思的是,每次上课,学生们对于我的进度要求都会说:“Oh! That's impossible!(那不可能)”但是到课程结束,他们会为自己达到的成果而欢呼。教数字时,我们只用了10分钟就用汉语从0数到99,并且能够写出对应的汉字;学日期时,我用引导提示的方法,让他们自己找出表达“星期”和“月”的规律;学颜色时,我引用京剧脸谱,通过若干个小故事告诉他们不同的颜色代表不同的人物形象,并对京剧做简单介绍,学生们不仅学会了颜色的汉语表达,还饶有兴趣地用不同的颜色设计脸谱。尤其要提一下十二生肖的学习,孩子们太喜欢这个内容了,我们一起制作了可以计算年龄或者生肖的“神器”,下课之后在楼道里,常常可以看到他们自豪地告诉别的孩子:“Let me tell you what's your Chinese zodiac...(让我来告诉你你的生肖是什么)”。

一周的课很快结束了,当我在最后一节课告诉孩子们我即将届满离任,学生们非常不舍。回想自己这两年和他们不多的接触,我很感谢Norris的老师和校长对我们的邀请和信任。每当我走在学校的走廊里,时不时会有学生用中文对我问好。作为老师,我很开心,相信做老师的都会有这样的体会吧。

My Story with Norris

Chinese-English No.2 2018 Liang Rui2018-07-13

Hickman, a small town 25 miles south of Lincoln, the capital city of the state of Nebraska, is a typical town in the middle of the US. This town is home to less than 3,000 simple rural people and honest inhabitants, and is endowed with pleasant environment and distinct seasons. A step out of the town reveals to you a vast expanse of cornfields. After a less-than-five-minute’s drive to the south, the orderly planned complexes of buildings are unfolded before you and that is where the school area of Norris is. This area hosts a cluster of schools, from primary schools to high schools with the same timetable. This saves families from sending their children to and picking them up from the schools in different places at different time. Additionally, convenient school buses are available to children,  who live out in the country and return them back to their homes safely and quickly.

My story with Norris dates back to 3 years ago. On 24th August, 2015, I traveled to the Confucius Institute at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln from Xi’an Jiaotong University as a Chinese teacher. I still remember that there were 8 students in my class, among whom were undergraduate students, doctoral students, a pastor, a professor of economics, a young couple that were going to China to adopt orphans, and a foreign language teacher of a public school. They all showed great manners and amity, and later became my close friends.

One year later, Mary, one of my students, invited me to celebrate Halloween with her family. When I distributed candies to children, she asked me whether I could come to her school to introduce China and Chinese culture to the kids there. “Yes”, I gladly accepted her invitation. She soon got in touch with the Confucius Institute that I worked for, and as a result, the cooperation is reached. Until now, I still remember the scene of my first visit to Norris. The kids were excited and curious when they first met me as a Chinese.  Since then, I have been introducing Chinese language and Chinese culture to the pupils in grade six in Mary’s class twice every semester.

In the first class, I had a casual talk with them and raised questions to uncover similarities between these kids and me. For example, I said they were as old as my children, and we all lived in the central part of our respective countries. Later, through the presentation of real pictures and vivid video clips about China, these pupils showed profound interest in learning, especially when I introduced my hometown Xi’an as an ancient city with old historic heritage, modern skyscrapers and bridges, boisterous new year celebrations, fascinating food and packs of tourists. All these appeared mysterious and fresh to them!

Despite their great interest in Chinese culture, these pupils, like most of Americans, held prejudice in learning Chinese as they regard it as a tough task. To dissolve their prejudice, I employed the TPR (Total Physical Response) teaching method featuring games, to guide them to memorize Chinese characters with the help of body movements. For example, without any help of English, they all succeeded in comprehending a story of about 60 to 70 Chinese characters within 15 minutes. They were able to listen, speak, and conclude the meaning of some strange Chinese characters based on the law governing Chinese characters. Then, I retold the story in Chinese while the students gave a performance together. Afterwards, I secretly adapted some small parts of the story to test whether they had truly understood the story. Surprisingly, it turned out that they can retell the story logically and accurately, which undoubtedly boosted their confidence and enthusiasm in Chinese learning. Through this pattern of teaching, the course of the first day soon came to the end with all kids being eager  to learn more.

In the following courses, I chose number, date, color and Chinese zodiacs respectively as teaching topics. Interestingly, in each course, my students all said “Oh, That’s impossible!” in response to my teaching plan at first, which they thought was difficult to follow. However, they always applauded for what they had achieved at the end of each course. In the lesson with the topic of number, they successfully counted the numbers from 0 to 99 in Chinese within only 10 minutes, and could also write down the corresponding Chinese characters. In terms of the dates, I guided them to find out the law of how every “week” and “month” proceeds. As far as colors, I cited the Peking Opera facial masks and told them through short stories that different colors of these masks represented different figures. Besides, I also introduced briefly the Peking Opera to them so as to enable better learning effect. As a result, they have not only learned the Chinese expressions of different colors, but also earnestly designed the facial masks with various colors. The lesson of Chinese zodiac is worth mentioning because all of the students were indulged in it. During this class, we came up with “an amazing way” together to speculate one’s age and the related Chinese zodiac sign. In the corridor after the class, my students often spoke proudly to other kids from different classes, “Let me tell you what’s your Chinese zodiac…”

In the twinkling of an eye, a week-long course came to an end. In the last class when I told them I was going to finish my term as a teacher, my students felt sad that I would not be their teacher any more. In retrospect, in the past two years when I spent my time with the kids there, I was grateful for the invitation from the headmaster and the teachers of Norris and their confidence in me. Each time I walked down along the corridors in the school, some students greeted me in Chinese. As a teacher, I feel happy about that and I think this kind of pleasure is also shared by all teachers.

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