random thoughts by 偶灯斯陋
偶灯斯陋 (热门博主)
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(2008-04-11 17:48:23) 下一个

旧文重读: 学中文有利于孩子的文化认同和心理健康

那是很久很久以前,在作全职工作之前,自己摸爬滚打地办了一个中文课室,登报招生,义务教学。先是在自己家里上课,后来在一位越南华侨的武术馆里借地上课,因为那里没有黑板,后又借用过大学教室。学生始终不多,六,七个而已,最多时大概来了九,十来个,(仔细想想,前后好像共收过十五,六个学生,两年内,有非力并华侨,由中美联姻家庭,由越南华侨,还有领养了华人小孩儿的白人以及同华人没有亲缘的白人小孩子)当然其中总是包括自家的俩小萝卜头。后因有了全职的事儿要作,也没有其他的人愿意接手,只好停办。从此对孩子的中文教学只好采用“随机”法了:因地制宜,有空便教;可惜呢,大多数时间会被算成没空 (孩子总有另外的事儿要做,家长也没硬性坚持)。


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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偶灯斯陋 回复 悄悄话 欢迎来访!谢谢评论。愿与朋友们在促进孩子学中文上多多交流。
苏乡门地 回复 悄悄话 一定要从小开始,养成良好习惯,习惯成自然。
苏乡门地 回复 悄悄话 谢谢你将这封致家长信贴上来分享。 这是我读过的关于引导孩子学中文的一篇难得的佳作。 赞同你的观点,值得借鉴。 这封信中的分析很在理,也很在行,这大概同你从事教育工作的背景相关。

我的孩子是个ABC,上中文学校已有两年。 尽管我们这方面一起付出时间和努力还很有限,可孩子在“逼迫”之下也坚持了下来,加上老师尽心尽力地督促,我们为能拥有这位中文老师而深感欣慰。 

不得不承认,我自己劝导小家伙坚持学中文的理由过于“实际化”,基本上是把它作为一种生存工具来看待的。 多学一门语言,就多培养一项技能,而孩子的语言接受能力之强,是我们成年人所远远不及的,何况,学语言是没有最低年龄限制的,因此,一定要不从小开始,养成良好习惯,习惯成自然。