许愿真 / 英语学习方法 / 我教中国人英文1




2014-05-29  许愿真

In at least one respect, I'm not a typical expatriate teacher of English. Many-perhaps most-of us make our careers teaching overseas. I came out here after many years of teaching and teacher training in England only three years ago, so I'm still relatively a newcomer. And of course I make comparisons. Of course former colleagues ask me what it is like to teach Chinese students? In what ways do they differ from native speakers of English? How do they compare with the students in English schools who are of Asian parentage, but who hardly remember a home elsewhere than in an English city? To these questioners my answer is that Chinese students differ from one another just as do those of any other nationality. The longer I stay, the less I am willing to generalize.

        至少,就某方面而言,我还不能算是最典型的外籍英语教师.我们当中许多人,也可以说大多数的人都是以海外教书为终身职业。我经历多年的教书生涯,而于三年前到英国接受教师训练之后,才来此地任教,因此算是相当资浅的教员。不过,我倒作过不少教学的比较研究。当然,以前的同事总会问我教导中国学生的一些心得;比如,在教法上,中国学生和以英语为母语的学生有何不同? 或者,和就读英语学校,从小又一直生活于讲英语的城市之亚裔学生,又有何不同?针对这类问题,我总是回答,中国学生和其它任何国家的学生一样,也因个性和程度的差异,各有不同。我教书时间愈久,愈不愿以偏概全,一概而论。

  When students ask me similar sounding questions, I find that I want to give a rather different answer. There is, I think, more to their questions than friendly curiosity. They want to know (even if they do not put it like this) where they stand, and how they rate, as users of English as an international language. They know, as I do, that for all the hard work that has gone into their learning of the language, their attainments still fall short of their hopes. They want to know if that English is good enough, and indeed what “ good enough” means. They would like to know if there are ways in which their bilingualism, and their biliteracy, gives them and appreciable advantage, and whether, especially, their limitations and weaknesses in English are identifiable and can be remedied.
        要是学生问我类似的热门问题,我就很想以不同的方式来答复。我认为在回答时, 不应是满足善意的好奇心理,而就针对他们的问题,多作阐释与发挥。他们很想知道(即使不明讲),自己目前的程度,以及在使用国际语言的能力方面,如何给予自己确切的评估。他们也和我一样明白,尽管为了学好英语,下过功夫苦读,但成效依然不能令人满意。他们也想知道,自己的英语是否够好,而“够好”的真正定义又是什么?他们更想了解,是否可利用某些捷径,得以有效提升自己的双语沟通与读写的能力;此外,尤其想知道,是否可以找到自己学习英语的先天限制与种种缺失,以及补救之道。

  These are some of the answers I think are true, and that I hope are useful. Learning any foreign language takes a long time and a great deal of effort, but learning one that belongs to a different language family from your mother tongue is especially hard. I knew in England experienced teachers of English to speakers of Asian languages belonging (as do the languages of Europe) to the Indo-European language family. When these teachers met primary students from Hong Kong they perceived them as diligent but slow. Those teachers simply failed to recognize that if Cantonese is your mother tongue you simply have more to do than (say) a Punjabi speaker, so of course you need longer to do it. It is easy to get discouraged and, in effect, to give up. Some people do—even if among those who go on attending classes conscientiously! Many more fail to recognize how much they have actually learnt and to respect their own achievements.


  Realistic Targets
  It is important to set yourself realistic targets. For all but a small, exceptionally gifted minority, native proficiency is not a realistic target. A Chinese user of English should not feel that because he sounds and seems Chinese when he uses English that he has been less than successful in acquiring it. To have learned English well is to be fully intelligible to another user of standard English and to understand him, in ordinary circumstances.” Of course “ordinary circumstances” differ between users. Highly technical vocabulary is entirely ordinary in the context of air traffic control or information technology or any one of the many scientific and technical contexts for which English is the language of international communication. Advanced students of English need to consider what are the range of purposes for which they are likely to use their international language, and to select courses where those purposes are recognized and understood by their teachers.




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