random thoughts by 偶燈斯陋
偶燈斯陋 (熱門博主)
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(2008-04-11 17:48:23) 下一個

舊文重讀: 學中文有利於孩子的文化認同和心理健康

那是很久很久以前,在作全職工作之前,自己摸爬滾打地辦了一個中文課室,登報招生,義務教學。先是在自己家裏上課,後來在一位越南華僑的武術館裏借地上課,因為那裏沒有黑板,後又借用過大學教室。學生始終不多,六,七個而已,最多時大概來了九,十來個,(仔細想想,前後好像共收過十五,六個學生,兩年內,有非力並華僑,由中美聯姻家庭,由越南華僑,還有領養了華人小孩兒的白人以及同華人沒有親緣的白人小孩子)當然其中總是包括自家的倆小蘿卜頭。後因有了全職的事兒要作,也沒有其他的人願意接手,隻好停辦。從此對孩子的中文教學隻好采用“隨機”法了:因地製宜,有空便教;可惜呢,大多數時間會被算成沒空 (孩子總有另外的事兒要做,家長也沒硬性堅持)。


Dear Parents of “Xue Zhong Wen” Chinese Classroom:

It’s hard to believe we have come to this far--Lesson 6 in Book 2! I think everyone deserves a pat on the shoulder for a job that needs so much effort and commitment. Indeed learning an extra language that’s not spoken outside one’s family is a very demanding task and often comes with some degrees of failure. So if the child learns any Chinese language at all, it’s because you have done a good job as parents.

Since it is not an easy thing to do to push our kids to learn this language, and every now and then we found ourselves at the edge of total giving up of the seemingly fruitless effort (“why bother at all”?), we need think over why we want them to learn Chinese. Perhaps by doing so we’ll be encouraged to keep going with this mission.

We may not need to be reminded of the value or importance of learning our mother tongue--Chinese.

First of all, there’s the emotional tie. Even though the language is almost a foreign language to our children (because they don’t use it in their school, playing, camping etc. except for listening to their parents talk), the language is our mother-tongue. We have rich emotional and cultural goldmine embedded in this precious language.

Second, learning Chinese can help build their metalinguistic sense. Learning two languages has the benefit of knowing about language in large. Researchers find children who speak two languages tend to reach higher level of cognitive achievement (Papalia & Olds, 1996). Knowing Chinese does not interfere with learning English and learning Chinese does not rob a child of fluency in English. As one observer commented, having two languages is more like having two children than like having two wives (Fallows, 1986).

Third, learning Chinese can help children perform in math operations. Scholars have been puzzled why east Asian children do so much better than their counterparts in America in mathematics. Except for the different attitudes and practice to math education, one inherited advantage lies in the natural languages they use. For instance, the number “eleven” virtually means “ten one” in Chinese, “twelve” means “ten two”, etc., this simplifies the operation procedures if you use Chinese to do those math operations than if you use English.

Last but not the least, learning Chinese will help build their sense of identity. I have been working on the adolescent psychology course over the year, and my greatest finding from the field that relates to our “Xue ZhongWen” Chinese classroom is that some day our kids will step into adolescence (when they are 11) and they are going to face the identity issue that none adolescent can escape--the question “who am I?” Chinese Americans will consist 3% of the general population in the USA in 2050. We are certainly a minority group. If every adolescent has to go through the identity crisis, the minority adolescents have a more difficult time with this issue than the majority adolescents. In addition to the issues like gender identity, occupation identity, and ideology identity that every adolescent has to deal with, our children also have to come to term with their ethnic identity. If they have a positive sense of their cultural background, then they will have an easier time coping with this identity crisis. Taking Chinese lessons, hopefully, will help them build up the sense of pride of their heritage, and help them grow into a person with high self-esteem.

So, having listed the reasons why we want to insist teaching our children Chinese, we are then facing how we could help them learn. We also acknowledge that English is their number one priority. They do need spend time on reading, writing for learning the survival tool. If we could make sure each child spend three hours learning the Chinese language per week (like reading the text, writing the new words, writing the text, making sentences with the new words, playing games with the wordcards etc.), or even if only thirty minutes, which is better than none, we’ll see their progress, slow perhaps but sure.

Thank you for your attention. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for teaching methods.



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閱讀 ()評論 (3)
偶燈斯陋 回複 悄悄話 歡迎來訪!謝謝評論。願與朋友們在促進孩子學中文上多多交流。
蘇鄉門地 回複 悄悄話 一定要從小開始,養成良好習慣,習慣成自然。
蘇鄉門地 回複 悄悄話 謝謝你將這封致家長信貼上來分享。 這是我讀過的關於引導孩子學中文的一篇難得的佳作。 讚同你的觀點,值得借鑒。 這封信中的分析很在理,也很在行,這大概同你從事教育工作的背景相關。

我的孩子是個ABC,上中文學校已有兩年。 盡管我們這方麵一起付出時間和努力還很有限,可孩子在“逼迫”之下也堅持了下來,加上老師盡心盡力地督促,我們為能擁有這位中文老師而深感欣慰。 

不得不承認,我自己勸導小家夥堅持學中文的理由過於“實際化”,基本上是把它作為一種生存工具來看待的。 多學一門語言,就多培養一項技能,而孩子的語言接受能力之強,是我們成年人所遠遠不及的,何況,學語言是沒有最低年齡限製的,因此,一定要不從小開始,養成良好習慣,習慣成自然。