Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

Taiwan United States and China and how I almost got killed


ask_weasal
 Share

Recommended Posts

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

The people are the cover don't look like they are from the 1940's.

Well, maybe I was exaggerating a bit. I was mainly thinking that they used a lot of slang that my grandparents used to use, things like, “say, chap, shall we go to the ice cream parlor and drink a soda?” This book is in most bookstores in China, so flip through it next time you are there, just for fun. :D

One thing I would have done, if I could have done it over, is to modify the outdated language in the dialogues. Then I would have had the students perform the modified editions, and perhaps do a little improve based on those particular situations.

Still, that particular activity wouldn’t and shouldn’t fill up more than 25 minutes or so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was misled by adrianlondon when she mentioned that the pupils were crying.

Sorry - my fault. I assumed university students would just sit there in stony silence, not burst into tears, so I picked "pupils" on the asumption that they were younger. Oh, and I'm not a "she". You'd be sorely disappointed if we met :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wushijiao,

Your first job sounds exactly like my current job, the same book and the advice is practically word for word. Ditched the book after about a month after cherry-picking the few passages that were expandable into 45 minute lessons. Am currently learning to teach Oral English with nothing more than a piece of chalk, my laptop, and a lot of enthusiasm. The book must inexplicably popular in China given the number of copies on Wangfujing Bookshops shelves, and, despite being published in 2002, still teaches the appropriate language telling the operator which telephone number you want to be connected to.

Randall,

In my classes I've found it very difficult to set up any exercise which requires the students to disagree with each other, even over minor points. For example, in one of my first lessons, on movies, after discovering that Titanic was about the only western movie nearly everyone had seen, I asked if they liked it. In 9 out of 10 classes there was unanimous agreement that it was very good. But when I asked one class, there was this uncertain atmosphere for a few seconds, before the indecision seemed to suddenly topple into everyone deciding that they hated it.

I would love to be able to do debates in my lessons (for times when the chalk runs out!), but whenever I ask students what topics they'd be interested in, they tell me they simply don't want to do debates. I think this is a major skill they're lacking, certainly in English, but probably in Chinese as far as I can tell. I get the impression that a debating society, where you may be told to argue a point of view you might not agree with, for the whole purpose of having an argument, is something they'd be very uncomfortable with.

While I stongly disagree, there are potentially good arguments to be made that Taiwan is and should be part of China. The problem is that in my experience even Beida graduates with extensive experience living abroad and excellent English are often unwilling or unable to make them, falling back on the "It's ours. Don't interfer" line, whenever questioned.

Nonetheless I've not quite given up, and I'd be interested if anyone can suggest a topic that would be likely to split a group of young Chinese students down the middle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yingguoguy,

How about debating the expansion of college admission? China's university enrollment has increased about four-, five-fold since the late 1990s. This has allowed many more students to get in the door but at the expense of education quality at many places. There should be plenty of arguments on both sides.

One problem with Chinese students is that they are overwhelmed with school work, at least up until college, and aren't in the habit of reading serious papers and magazines like their counterparts in the West. As a result, most of them are woefully underinformed about almost anything that is not in the standard curriculum. The topic I suggested, however, is something all of them should be intimately familiar with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chinese students may need more time to get used to the idea of disagreeing with each other openly in class. When they do, I think it’s best if it’s usually over something not too serious.

I had a start-of-class warm-up for my first-year university students which may seem daft and childish but it worked brilliantly, both as a warm-up and to get people into the mood for talking a bit openly and arguing with each other a little. Most classes soon really liked it.

Everybody chooses one partner so you have a classroom full of pairs. Each pair comprises student A and student B.

Say that all As will be a student who has just failed an exam and is unhappy about it, wants to know why, worked very hard etc.

And the Bs are the teacher whose exam the student failed, and thinks the student is a bad student.

or alternatively all As must be, say, George Bush. And all Bs must be Saddam Hussein.

or any pair who you’d expect to disagree if they met on the street. tell them that they are going to meet each other on the street and have a conversation. here’s the difference though:

Get all the As to form a small circle standing in the middle of the room. Have them face outwards.

Then get their partners to stand opposite them, facing in. So you have all As in an inner circle facing out towards all Bs, who are in a larger circle around them.

Then get them to have the conversation. Only give them 3-4 mins though. If it works, they’ll all be quite close together meaning they’ll have to talk loudly, but because everyone is talking loudly no-one can really be overheard, so nothing to be too shy about.

Then, stop them, shut them up, and get one of the circles to rotate a couple of places in one direction. So everyone’ll now be standing opposite someone new.

And get them to repeat the exercise, keeping the same roles.

Do this once or twice more: because they’re sort of repeating themselves they’ll get more confident about what to say, despite the fact they’re talking with a new partner each time. And of course they’ll be disagreeing with each other in English. In a fun way. They should also be full of energy for the rest of the class.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's an exercise for practicing argument language that forgoes meaningful topics altogether - have each student write a noun or noun phrase on a paper (without telling them exactly why), and mix them up. Pick two at a time and have students (or groups of students) argue why one is better, more important, more meaningful, or whatnot, than the other. It may take a few rounds until people get the hang of it, but in my experience, college freshmen really get in to arguing whether pineapples are more important than bicycles. It's utterly insignificant, and thus language practice isn't infringed by other, possibly more sensitive topics. Naturally this won't work on an extended basis, but it can be used to generate a foundation that can be built on later with more meaningful topics.

Also, again in my experience with university undergrads and graduate students, some (not all, of course) are quite willing to talk about Taiwan, Tibet, and other "sensitive issues," just not in class. Six or seven students would organize a discussion group where pretty much anything was an open topic while they practiced speaking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Randall,

Here is a bit of advice, coming from Asian-American with both background(Taiwan/China). Yeah, I know conflicting background in these political issues. How about you asking the students for neither or for. You only stated which is better, but you never given the chance for the Chinese students answer if they wanted to be neutral in the subject.

As I, being neutral between Asian and being American at the same time. I sure, there got to be some students who feel this same way, but you don't have an neutral answer. Here is why, you will get yourself into more trouble, while two sides having conflicts, the third party (rich or wealthy) wins in the end. In my opinion, your not really helping the issue, but repeating the issue in another way or form.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a lot of good advice here.

but in my experience, college freshmen really get in to arguing whether pineapples are more important than bicycles. It's utterly insignificant, and thus language practice isn't infringed by other, possibly more sensitive topics

That's a fantastic activity, and one of the reasons it works is because you're not asking the students to say what they think (because frankly, a lot of the time they don't think anything), you're telling them 'this is what you think, now argue the point', and by making it something entirely ridiculous you almost give them license to spout nonsense - but they are at least spouting.

What I used to do, roughly, was something like this (assuming 8 students, but you can scale it up). Say the topic is for / against the one child policy.

1) Divide into two groups of four. Group A is for, Group B is against (they get no choice in this). Both group have to brainstorm reasons, examples, etc for their view point.

2) Mix the groups AABB / AABB. Assign one in each group as a kind of 'leader' - it's that persons job to ask others questions to keep it going, and if the group falls silent, you hold that person to account.

3) Mix the groups into four AB pairs, and let them run at it again.

4) Keep swapping the pairs around until about 10 minutes before the class ends. If they complain it's boring, ask them why they're still so rubbish at it.

5) Randomly pick some A's and B's to debate in front of the class.

6) Congratulate yourself on a communicative, participatory oral English lesson which required no preparation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Getting a discussion going on sensitive topics would be a challenge in a lot of places, even the US, where even one's choices of words becomes sensitive.

I wonder how far an English (or any language) teacher can emphasize clear and effective communication. Ideally, people should be able to rip each others' most sacred ideas to shreds and still have drinks together. The concept is iron sharpening iron. If one is afraid of being scratched, it will never happen. And if we fail to challenge or to make grow each others' thinking, relationships can be nothing but superficial. That is a danger with the politically-correct-speech movement. If we water a language down far enough, we will cease to communicate anything and instead only communicate precisely nothing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah I have that same wretched book....Oral English: Reproduction. The brown book right? Say chap I do fancy a soda.

Apology accepted IAN, but I do get your point and I learned my lesson. I had a good lesson today. Today I had the students make up jingles and hooks for todays companies like...QQ Mc Donalds , Milk, NBA...ect....they really loved it. You guys should try it. The students can be really creative if they want to.

Doesn't it feel good when you have a successful class?

Randall

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice people I am really going to use that circle thing with the A's and B's. I usually have good lesson plans in the summer. I try to have them use their minds in addition to the language. One thing I did that was really great was human chess. I taught them the game of chess, took them outside and drew a chessboard on the ground. (This would be a super ideal game if the Chinese were not so homogenous looking). Assigned people their position and played. It was good. You can play it with a large class because you need 32 students and 2 players. They really enjoyed it and had a good time. How to tell a rook from a knight? All people that are rooks must have water bottles in their hand. All knights must have glasses on. It was cool.

Randall Fields

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't do a debate on college entrance admission policy if I was you - it is rather a sensitive topic. I am lead to believe that if your parents are rich enough but you failed entrance exams by a couple of dozen points you can "pay" to have your entrance score boosted by the amount of points you need so that you qualify for admission, obviously at the expense of more deserving poorer students.

There are generally some students in each class that fall into this category - all the students know who they are and they tend to suffer for it. I am sure they would not appreciate a debate on the subject.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good variation on the debates, is if you have A's and B's arguing for/against a topic (whether it be pineapples, or taiwan) let the A's and the B's argue with each other for however long you like, but then after a while get everyone to swap sides, so if the A's were arguing 'for' they now have to argue 'against', and vice-versa. This really helps drive home the point that a debate is an exercise in thinking and speaking and your actual point of view is not really too important.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some great ideas here. I'll post back next week and let you know how I get on with them.

Tried the random noun game at the end of my class today and it worked brilliantly. It says a lot about the decline of revolutionary spirit in China that one group had problems thinking why a dog might be more important than an empress.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

one of the main ways my chinese improved so much while i spent my year in xi'an was during second semester. My teacher was so open minded and so willing to talk about any issue. We talked at length in class about taiwan, pollution vs. economic growth, funding for space programs vs. funding for the millions of poor people in China. These topics forced us to use Chinese because we wanted so badly to express our points of view. There were times i supported China (such as with the three gorges project) but find my teacher telling me why he thinks im wrong. The arguments never got nasty. For this reason i can understand why Randall would want to raise such a topic. Debating whilst learning a new language is nothing new. Its a classical good method to encourage speech so i'm a little surprised so many members here think it has no place in the classroom. I suppose considering its sensitive nature in china that he did raise it in the wrong way . You need to come on with a more neutral stance (as several people said). Indeed i do think we need to understand these sensitivies. Many people may not take too kindly to a Chinese teacher raising the topic: "america deserved 9/11". But others won't see the problem in discussing such an issue. We also can't deny the fact that the chinese are generally only subject to one point of view all through school (that is the government's stance on the issue). And even my Chinese teacher said that it takes a while for the chinese to grow out of relying on the media/teachers/government for such information. But it was encouraging to know that more and more Chinese are wanting more information to be able to make up their own minds. Either way i think you need to be more sensitive about these issues. I respect the reasons of why Taiwan should be a part of China. In fact i think looking at it from a historical point of view it should indeed be apart of China. I don't want to go too much into that though. But most of the Chinese i have spoken to about the issue give no actual reasoning apart from what you said "Taiwan is China therefore it should be part of China". They don't bother to learn why or simply dont respect foreigners enough to go into the history. Ive had times where i'd support China on the taiwan issue whilst with friends but the Chinese amongst us never did a good job of explaining why Taiwan should be apart of China. (i did develop a good group of friends with foreigners and chinese and we spoke in chinese).

Perhaps there should be a seperate forum for this discussion to ensure this site remains available in China. (sh)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did a debating lesson just before May Day and have been lazy in posting back about it.

The two topics I gave my classes were:

"This class would abolish exams"

"This class would make physical education voluntary"

These are obviously designed to be relevant to the students life rather than political topics. I then divided the students into two groups brainstorming for and against for 5mins. Then I had them argue in pairs for another 5mins. Then gave them fresh partners and got them to argue the opposite side. Finally got feedback from the whole class by getting 4 reasons for and 4 reasons against the motion then voted on it.

It largely went well, though some students didn't want to/understand arguing a view they disagreed with. (Maybe because of bad instructions, but I was quite careful in setting it up). However after one stated a reason for, the other would mostly state an unrelated reason against, rather than refute her partner. Even after debating a topic for 15min+ it can be hard to get most students to speak confidently to the whole class. In other lessons I try to avoid this as much as possible (as working in pairs/groups gives students far more talking time), but if you're going to vote on a motion, I feel there should be some element of debate as a whole class.

I'll try another debate in a couple of weeks, though I'll need a couple of new topics. As the students aren't allowed out of the college at night (they're 20+ years old) on the basis that the town is too dangerous, and as one of the gatemen tried to stop me last week, I'm temped to go with something along the lines of "Is the town safe? If so, why aren't students allowed out? If not, what should the government be doing about it?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If that's the same class you did the random noun thing with, you might want to try random debate topics - this class would ban the color blue (Blue is associated with sadness, banning it will increase happiness vs People will drown as the sea will have no color and thus be invisible, etc), this class would replace cars with donkeys, etc.

If they're having trouble coming up with arguments because 'I don't agree', they're really just being lazy. I used to do stuff like tell them they were going to listen to a debate between two parties, and to predict what arguments the speakers would use, and then tell them I'd lied, there was no listening, but oh look, what a lot of good arguments for the upcoming debate you have . . .

You could also add a roleplay element. Rather than a plain old debate (which is a bit of an unrealistic scenario anyway) they could pretend to be the student council delegation asking the school management to remove / ease the curfew.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...