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Language, culture and maybe a global edge in China class

Andrew Wang, teaching at Summit High, calls new exchange program ‘a win-win’

来源:本站原创 作者:王勇 发布时间:2014年06月19日 点击数: [添加收藏]

 

Summit High students were ready Thursday when they started their day in the school’s new Chinese language and culture class.

 “Ni hao,” they said to Andrew Wang, their new teacher, before taking a few minutes to address one another, introducing themselves and explaining where they were from.

 Wang, whose first name is actually Yong but who has chosen Andrew as his American name, is 32. He came from his home in Yangzhou, China, about three weeks ago, the first teacher in what the district hopes will be a regular exchange between the Bend-La Pine Schools and Wang’s home school.

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The goal of such a program is cultural interchange; students here will become more  prepared for global competition by learning Chinese and opening their eyes to another country’s way of life, while students in China will become more fluent in English by interacting with teachers from Bend. As Wang teaches Chinese customs to his American students, he’s taking in this culture to give back to his students in China. And at the same time, he’s providing to U.S. students a rare glimpse into his part of the world.
    This is a win-win, Wang said. We will all benefit from this experience. I will share with my colleagues and open the window to China.

The program was set up by Bill Seiden, 82, a retired Bend resident who moved to Central Oregon from Westport, Conn., seven years ago.
    When he visited China decades ago, he was shocked to learn that all Chinese students planning to go to college had to be proficient in English. He worried that American students would fall behind.
    Seiden, who served as mayor of Westport in the 1980s, helped start a teacher exchange program between Yangzhou and the Connecticut town in an effort to help American students compete globally. Westport’s high school, Seiden said, now has five levels of Mandarin classes and about 200 students enrolled in the program. When Seiden heard from friends in Westport that its relationship with Yangzhou had ended, he jumped at the opportunity, contacting administrators in the Bend-La Pine Schools and explaining the program he wanted to start. When the district expressed an interest, Seiden headed to China to try to broker a deal.
    “This was the second half of my dream,” Seiden said. “Why shouldn’t my new town participate in this? Why should our students be at a disadvantage if I can help give them a chance to have an advantage, a leg up on other American kids?

He interviewed teachers and settled on Wang, who had an impressive resume and was seen as one of the top teachers in the city. Wang taught English at Yangzhou University Affiliated High School.
    If you are going to start a program, why not do it with the best you can find? Seiden said.
    In the classroom
    At Summit High, Wang is teaching two Chinese culture and language classes, both in the morning. While he’s teaching conversational Mandarin, he’ll also teach about China, the way it has changed through the years and the many traditions in which his country participates. He wants students to get a fuller understanding of what life is like in China, rather than just the information coming out of the country that ends up in newspapers and on the news.
    “I want to give them a complete picture of China, and one that’s up to date,” Wang said. I want to show them people and places and things besides language.

The classes at Summit, Wang said, will focus on conversational Mandarin, as well as Chinese culture, from the way the country functions to the traditions his students learn at their schools. For example, on Wednesday, he taught students a Chinese art called paper cut, in which students learn to fold and cut paper into shapes, such as dancing fish. They’ll have to create their own piece of work, and give a presentation on the history and culture of Chinese paper cutting in the near future.
    For Wang, the goal is simple.
    “People’s pictures of China are not complete, and that’s one of my missions,” he said. “I want them to know what the real China is. China, he said, has become much more open and is learning from the West. He said he was encouraged by his superiors to come to the U.S. and plans to travel all over the country while he is here. He’d been out of his country only once before; to Thailand, for his honeymoon.
    Already, Wang is getting his chance to share things about his life in China. There are 32 students in the two sections of the class. It’s quite an improvement since the first day, when eight students showed up.
    “I hope in two more weeks it will double again,” Wang said.
    On Thursday, Wang walked the students through the days of the week and the months of the year. In Mandarin, people simply add the month’s number to the word for month.
    “It’s much easier in Chinese than English, I think, he said, laughing.
    The students didn’t seem to agree but they did seem to be having fun.
With the students
    “I wanted to join this class because I thought it would be cool to learn something besides Spanish, which is what everybody takes,” said Chelsea Larson, a 15-year-old sophomore.
    Still, it hasn’t been easy.
    Jose Hernandez, 16, is also in the class. The sophomore said it is a challenge.
    It is hard because you can’t pronounce your vowels,” he said. “And all those symbols are hard to learn.”

Weston Koyama, 17, is enjoying the change of pace.
    “I’m interested in the language,” he said. “It is very unusual. I’m Japanese, but I don’t even know Japanese yet.

One of the biggest differences Wang has seen between China and the U.S. is the way high school operates here.
    He said that in China, students stay in one classroom throughout the day, and teachers have their own offices, only going into the classrooms to teach. Classes are much larger, some with as many as 50 students. But classes also are shorter, with eight periods of about 45 minutes each and a two-hour lunch each day. As a result, school doesn’t get out until 5 p.m., and some extracurricular activities are mixed into the day.
    Most of Wang’s experiences here have been positive so far.
    “The students in my class are really nice,” he said. “They do their lessons, and they are very good.”

In the community
    And Wang said he is impressed with his surroundings.
    “I like the scenery here, and also the houses are so beautiful,” he said.
    If there’s something hard about living in Bend, Wang said, he hasn’t found it yet.
    “The people here are very nice, and they’ve given me any help I’ve needed to get used to the new country,” Wang said. “I really appreciate it.

According to Dan Wolnick, whose family is hosting Wang for the year, he has been eager to mix into the culture here.
    “He is so anxious to try different kinds of meals, Italian food and Mexican food. We eat a lot of Mexican food, and he loves the hot, spicy stuff,” Wolnick said, laughing. “We ordered jala- penos on our pizza the other night, and he loved it. He just mowed it down. He was pulling slices of jalapeno off of mine.”

Wolnick, 43, and his wife, Terri, both work in the school district. Terri teaches at High Lakes Elementary, and Wolnick is the vice principal at Buckingham Elementary. Their three children, Nico, 11, Grey, 6, and Natalie, 6, are all excited to have Wang staying with them.
    They wanted to learn more about China and have another person from a different country living with us, Dan Wolnick said.
Their daughter Natalie is adopted from China, and the family looks forward to learning more about her culture. Wang has already started teaching the three children, as well as their neighbor across the street, basic Mandarin and Chinese culture on Sundays.
    Each morning, the family gets up around 6 a.m. and makes breakfast on the fly, Wolnick said. Then Terri gives Wang a ride to work. He puts a bike in the back of the car and rides it home in the afternoon.
    “He’s been joining us for soccer games and dinner, Wolnick said. “He’s the easiest guy to get along with. He’s so respectful and helpful and so intelligent. “

Wang is married; his wife, Chenfei, gave birth a month ago to their son, who is currently nicknamed Huan Huan, which means joyful.
    Wang left China just after the baby was born. It’s hard being so far from his family, he said. He speaks to them every night, often using Skype, an Internet site that allows free video calls. That way, he can watch his baby grow and change throughout the year he is here in Bend.
    “It was a very difficult decision at the beginning,” Wang said. “But my wife supports me a lot, and she said she’ll take care of the baby, and I should go now while he knows nothing.”

Plus, Wang said, getting the project off the ground is a big deal.
    “This project needs a teacher, and so for the time being, I will put this as my first priority,” he said.
    The school district is thrilled Wang is here. Lynn Baker, the principal at Summit, said he hopes students will benefit from Wang’s teaching.
‘The cutting edge’
    “Pacific Rim languages are becoming more and more important, and it really helps our students to be on the cutting edge, especially as Chinese-speaking countries come more and more to the forefront,” Baker said. “It opens up all sorts of career opportunities and sets our kids apart.”

And, Baker said, Wang is a heck of a teacher.
    “He is very, very professional, and he’s very, very well planned,” he said. “We’re always trying to give our students more of a global viewpoint-- in fact, it’s part of our mission statement and he does it in a very real way.
    “We hope this goes on year after year so that we’re ultimately in a position to offer Mandarin on a yearly basis, with a second year and a third year, and have it fit into our language curriculum.”

 

Sheila G. Miller can be reached at 541-617-7831 or at smiller@bendbulletin.com.
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From bendbulletin.com - published daily in Bend, Oregon, by Western Communications, Inc. Copyright 2005.

 汉语课堂里的语言、文化和全球优势

——苏密特高中汉语老师王勇称新的交流项目为“双赢”

 

美国俄勒冈州The Bulletin报纸929日头版报道

记者:Sheila G. Miller

 

苏密特高中的学生周四在中国语言和文化课中开始了一天的学习生活,这是该高中本学期全新的语言课程。

“你好”学生们齐声向王勇老师问候,随后便进行操练,互相打招呼并介绍自己。

王勇老师今年31岁,来自中国扬州市,Andrew是他的英文名字。三个多星期前,作为本德·拉潘校区和扬州市交流项目的第一位老师,王老师来到了这里。该交流项目以文化交流为目的,该校区的学生通过学习汉语可以打开了解国外生活方式的窗口,为将来的全球性竞争做好充分准备。而中国的学生通过与来自本德老师的互动,使自己的英语更加流利。王老师在教授美国学生中国文化的同时,也在吸取美国文化,回去与自己的中国学生分享。此外,他也使美国学生得以一瞥他自己的精神世界,这是难能可贵的。

“这是一种双赢”,王老师说道,“我们都能从这种经历中受益。我会与我的美国同行分享我的所得,帮他们更好地了解中国。” 

该交流项目是由比尔·沙尔登(Bill Seiden)先生发起的,沙尔登先生今年已82高龄,7年前从康乃狄克州的西港市搬到了俄勒冈中部的本德市。几十年前,当沙尔登先生来中国时,他惊讶地发现所有计划要上大学的学生都必须要掌握英语,他很担心美国的的学生会因此而落后。20世纪80年代,时任西港市市长的沙尔登先生帮助建立起扬州和西港市的教师交流项目,以使美国学生能面对全球性的竞争。据沙尔登生所说,西港市高中现教授五个等级的汉语,有200多学生学习汉语课程。当从朋友出得知西港市和扬州市的交流关系终结时,他立刻与本德·拉潘校区的官员接触,解释他的用心,为新项目的发起不遗余力地创造机会。当校区表示有兴趣后,沙尔登先生随即前往中国,以中间人的身份,努力想促成这个项目。

“这是我的梦想的第二个部分”,沙尔登先生说:“为什么不让我新的家乡参与其中呢?我既然可以提供帮助,使这里的学生远远领先与美国其他孩子,为什么还要让他们处于劣势呢?”

沙尔登先生在扬州面试了多名教师,眼光最后落在了王勇身上,认为他的简历令人印象深刻,认定他是该市最优秀的老师之一。王老师在扬州大学附属中学从事英语教学工作。“如果要启动一个教师交流项目,为什么不从你找到的最好的教师开始呢?”沙尔等先生说道。

在课堂内

在苏密特高中,王老师教授两个班的汉语和文化。在教授汉语的同时,他也会给学生讲解有关中国的知识,中国多年来的变化以及风俗等。他希望学生更全面的了解中国人们的生活方式,而不仅仅是报纸或新闻上的一知半解。

“我想给学生呈现最新、最全的中国画面”王老师说:“除了语言,我还想给他们展现人、物和事。”按照王老师所言,苏密特高中的汉语课在以汉语口语为主要内容的同时,还会穿插文化教学,大至国家的运转,小到中国学生的学习。例如,在周三的课上,他教给学生一种中国艺术——剪纸,在这节课上学生学会如何先折纸,然后将之剪成各种形状,如会跳舞的鱼。学生要独立完成一件作品,还要在班上作有关剪纸历史和发展等的展示。

对王老师而言,他的目的很简单。“很多美国人对中国的了解是不全面的,这也就成了我的使命之一”,王老师说:“我想让他们知道真正的中国到底是什么样子。”他指出,现在的中国很开放,正积极学习西方国家的长处。王老师告诉记者,他所在学校的校长很重视该项目,鼓励他要好好工作,做好教师和大使的工作。

王勇老师现已经有机会将自己在中国的生活分享给自己的学生。他现有32名学生,相比开始的16名学生翻了一番。“我希望再过两个星期,这个数目会再翻一倍。

在周四的课上,王老师带着学生学习星期、月份和日期的表达方法。在汉语中,只需在“月”字前加上汉语数字即可,“我想这比英语简单多了”,王老师边说边笑。学生们似乎不认同,但觉得很有意思。

学生采访

“我学习汉语,因为我觉着很酷,大家都学西班牙语,我想尝试别的语言。”15岁的二年级女生Chelsea Larson这样说。

然而学起来并不容易。

Jose Hernandez是班上一名16 岁的男生,他说这是一种挑战。“汉语挺难的,因为要读准韵母很难”他说:“学会那些符号并不容易。”

Weston Koyama17岁,正享受这种节奏的变化。“我对汉语这门语言很感兴趣”他说:“它很特别。我是日本人,但却一点也不懂日语。”

王老师认为美中高中最大的区别之一是学校的运转方式。他说,在中国学生待在固定的教室里,教师有着自己的办公室,只是到不同的教室上课。班级人数也比这里多,多达50多人。一天有8节课,每节45分钟,中午有两个多小时的午饭和午休时间。因此,学校5 点后才放学,一些课外活动穿插到课时中。

王老师在这里的经历得到了自己的肯定。“他们都是好学生”他说:“他们学习、做功课,很棒。”

在社区里

王老师说他对这里的环境留下了深刻的印象。“我喜欢这里的风景,这儿的房屋也很漂亮。”他说。

当被问到在本德有什么困难时,王老师说目前还没有。“这里的人真的很好,他们尽力帮我适应新的环境”王老师说:“我真的很感谢他们。”

Dan Wolnic家给王老师提供住宿,男主人Dan认为王老师迫切地想融入这里的文化。“他喜欢尝试不同的的食物,意大利菜和墨西哥菜。”Wolnic先生说:“我们吃了很多墨西哥菜,他很喜欢辛辣的口味”。

Wolnic 今年43岁,和妻子Terri同在当地校区学校工作。Terri是高湖小学(High Lakes Elementary 的老师,Wolnic是白金汉小学(Buckingham Elementary)的副校长。他们有3个孩子,Nico11岁,GreyNatalie同为6岁,他们都很高兴王老师跟他们住在一起。

“孩子们想知道更多关于中国的事情,很想让来自另一国家的人和他们住在一起 Wolnic说。

Wolnic的女儿Netalie是从中国收养的,全家人期望能学习她祖国的文化。事实上,王老师已开始教三个孩子基本的汉语和文化了。

每天早晨,全家人一起床便飞快地准备早餐,之后Terri 开车送王老师去学校,王老师将自行车放在车后,下午放学骑回家。

“他和我们一起看球赛、吃晚餐”Wolnic 说:“他是个最容易相处的人,他对人很尊敬、很聪明、也很愿帮助别人。”

王老师已经结婚,妻子陈飞在当地医院工作。他们的儿子一个多月前出生,目前小名叫欢欢,孩子出生一周后王老师离开了中国。王老师说很舍不得离开,每晚他都打电话给妻子,经常用Skype视频通话,这样就可以看到儿子的成长和变化。

“一开始这是一个很难的决定”王老师说:“但我的太太很支持我,让我放心她会带孩子,说在孩子懵懂时离开是最适宜的。王老师说:“让这个项目开始运作是件大事,它需要一名教师,因此我们全家还是把它放在了第一位。”

本德·拉潘校区对王勇的到来很是兴奋和高兴,苏密特高中的校长 Lynn Baker博士希望该校的学生能从王老师的教学中受益。

尖端优势

“环太平洋地区语言正变得越来越重要,当说汉语的国家越来越走向前沿,学习汉语真的能使我们的学生拥有尖端优势。”Baker说道:“它给我们的孩子开创了职业和发展的机会。”

同时, Baker还称赞王勇是一位极其出色的教师。他非常非常的专业,非常非常的有计划他说:“我们一直致力于给我们的学生以全球性的观点——事实上,这是我校使命宣言的一部分,王老师真正将这些做到了实处。”

   “我们希望这个项目每年都能继续下去,这样我们的汉语教学就能呈阶梯状,使之适应我们的语言课程。”

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