Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Classroom Expression

Classroom Expression
1 Hello! 你好! Nǐ hǎo!
2 Hello everyone! 大家好! Dàjiā hǎo!
3 Hello teacher! 老师好! Lǎoshī hǎo!
4 It's time for our class. Let's start. 上课。 Shàngkè.
5 Class is over! 下课。 Xiàkè.
6 Open the book. 打开书。 Dǎkāi shū.
7 I will say it, and please lesson carefully. 我说,你们听。 Wǒ shuō, nǐmen tīng.
8 Please tell me. 请跟我说。 Qǐng gēn wǒ shuō.
9 Please say it again. 再说一遍。 Zàishuō yībiàn.
10 Look at the blackboard. 看黑板。 Kàn hēibǎn.
11 Is that right or not? 对不对? Duì búduì?
12 Right. 对。 Duì.
13 Good! 很好! Hěn hǎo!
14 Great! 太好了! Tài hǎole!
15 Understand? 懂不懂? Dǒng bù dǒng?
16 Understand. 懂了。 Dǒngle.
17 Is there a problem? 有没有问题? Yǒu méiyǒu wèntí?
18 No problem. 没问题。 Méi wèntí.
19 There, you can say that again? 有,您能再说一遍吗? Yǒu, nín néng zàishuō yībiàn ma?
20 Goodbye! 再见! Zàijiàn!

Survival Chinese Expressions

Survival Chinese Expressions

1 Sorry! 对不起! Duìbùqǐ!
2 Sorry!/Excuse me! 不好意思! Bù hǎoyìsi!
3 It's okay. / Never mind. 没关系! Méiguānxì!
4 It's okay. / Never mind. 没事儿! Méishì er!
5 Thank you! 谢谢! Xièxiè!
6 You are welcome! 没问题! Méi wèntí!
7 You are welcome! 不客气! Bú kèqì!
8 Excuse me! (When you want to pass someone) 劳驾… Láojià…
9 Excuse me...Could I ask... 
(When you want to ask a question) 请问… Qǐngwèn…
10 What is this? 这是什么? Zhè shì shénme?
11 My Chinese is not so good. 我的中文不好。 Wǒ de zhōngwén bù hǎo.
12 I don't understand it. 我不懂。 Wǒ bù dǒng.
13 Could you repeat it? 请再说一遍。 Qǐng zàishuō yíbiàn.
14 How do you say "…" in Chinese? “…"中文怎么说? “…"Zhōngwén zěnme shuō?
15 What does "…" mean? "…"是什么意思? …Shì shénme yìsi?
16 Please give me… 请你给我… Qǐng nǐ gěi wǒ…
17 Please tell me… 请你告诉我… Qǐng nǐ gàosù wǒ…
18 Is it okay? …,好吗? …, Hǎo ma?
19 How is that? …,怎么样? …, Zěnme yàng?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Third Space in Pedagogy

I enjoyed reading Dialogical Imagination of (Inter)cultural Spaces: Rethinking the Semiotic Ecology of Second Language and Literacy Learning by Kostogriz, in Hall’s book. I am very impressed by unique concept of third space in pedagogy, which I found rather interesting and applicable to conduct culturally responsive practices in my future teaching.

Nowadays the classroom is more like a mosaic, where students’ cultural and linguistic background, strengths, needs, and interests tend to be highly diverse. Hence, to meet this diversity, it is of great importance for educators to construct such a third space for learners’ meaning-and identity- making process with democratic features and social transformation. In this third space, everybody get involved and everybody learns. I think this idea is quite innovative, because it changes the ways in which literacy learning is organized in multicultural classrooms. The author emphasizes the material-semiotic sphere of the third space pedagogy and the cultural-semiotic diversity requires a semantically rich learning environment by using all the social, cultural, and linguistic resources of its participants. In this way, the learners can bring their cultures to the classroom and the classroom is a place where embraces diverse cultures, which provide students multiple means to learn and know the world from multiple perspectives.

I am thinking about an example about how to construct a third space in an ESL classroom. Probably, we can conduct an activity to ask each student to share and introduce an idiom from their own country. As we know, idioms usually have their own cultural and historical origins, which reflect particular cultures in terms of their values, beliefs, traditions, customs, etc. They can give example of when, where, how, and why they use them with certain situational contexts. In this way, students may reflect their own cultures first and bring them to the classrooms. They can learn from other cultures within this co-constructed third space in the classroom, where they can find the similarity and disparity among cultures as well. Hence, their knowledge is social-culturally constructed and this process of knowing is dialogical.

Cultural Deversity & Intercultural Dialogism

Communication in a Pluralistic Society and Dialogism as a Way of Life in Shields’ book are pretty straightforward, which help me to understand the key terminologies in Bakhtinian conceptual scheme, like heteroglosia, pluralism, dialogue, and relationship.  

Under the trend of globalization, cultural diversity has become a prevalent issue, which exists in the world, a society, or an institution. The heteroglosia among cultures via intercultural dialogue, is essential to promote the coexistence and harmony among various cultural groups. It is of great importance to give voices to them, thus making it possible for other people to know, to respect, and to understand other cultures, which is a way to maintain the diversity among cultures. However, once coin has two sides. Intercultural dialogue may also lead to cultural assimilation. Through acculturation, people from various cultural groups are very likely to adapt to the mainstream culture and hence lose their unique cultural heritages and original cultural practices to certain extent.

The relationship and dialogues interrelate and interact each other. For example, good dialogues promote positive relationship and the relationship between the interlocutors influences their dialogues as well, vice versa. In addition, I like the concept of inner dialogue. For individuals, it is significant to open their ears and eyes to listen and see the world, enabling them to open their minds. The inner dialogue helps them to examine their positions through multiple perspectives and angles, which is like a reaction, generating new thoughts in a dynamic way.

Heteroglossia and Novel

It is interesting to examine the relationship between the nature of language in novel from Bakhtinian heteroglossia perspective and its applied values.

In John Holcombe (2012)’s Discourse in the Novel, the author explained heteroglossia as the multi-layered nature of language and he also pointed out that a novel consists of a variety of voices with their different community of discourse. The speeches in a dialogue can not only shape a vivid image about the contexts, but also build avenues for readers to know the inner world of the characters involved and the connections among them. I am thinking about my personal learning experience as an English major student when I was in the college. We read Oxford Bookworms Series when we were freshmen. I think it was fun and helpful, because the exposure to the authentic input and the engaging plots makes language learning meaningful.
Reading novels has been regarded as one of the best ways for language learners to improve their literacy. I think Bakhtinian heteroglossia canmaximum the outcomes of reading novels in foreign language learning and teaching. First, it helps learners to improve their speech skills. The characters demonstrated various speech genres under certain social-cultural contexts, and what they say reflects their experiences, motivations, thoughts, and demeanor. Hence, language learners may have a chance to learn how they people talk in the novel and they can gradually express their intention more effectively by using the appropriate manners. Second, it helps learners to improve communication skills. The discourse input in novels expose readers to an authentic language environment, where they activate their brains to conversation mode. They may learn how to understand the interlocutor accurately, how to deliver their messages appropriately, and keep the conversation flow back and forth. Last but not least, it helps readers to develop logic thinking skills. Reading a novel, readers may find the connections and conflicts among the characters. Also, they may question and reason why so-and-so decided to say something in certain way, which requires deeper thinking by considering the contexts and relationships between the interlocutors. In sum I think Bakhtinianheteroglossia perspectives have lots of practical values in foreign language teaching classrooms, which can guide our future curriculum designing.
Friends, if you are a language teacher, how will you use Bakhtinianheteroglossia approach to teach reading?

About Authenticity

From Bakhtin’s perspective, communication is a dynamic and dialogic meaning-making process. It is situated in certain social-historical contexts, where languages act as cultural means to mediate thoughts among individuals. Hence, the feature of real language I think is authenticity.

On one hand, authentic language is context-dependent, which is influenced by the specific social and historical factors of the circumstance where people are situated. For example, Chinese people say 恭喜发财(Gong Xi Fa Cai, which means wish you to be prosperous in the coming year.)to each other during the Lunar New Year, which is one of the most common New Year wishes 2014 is the year of the horse in Chinese animal zodiac and lots of people will use some idioms with “horse”, 马(Mǎ), to send family members and friends good wishes, such as一马当先,马到成功 (yi ma dang xian, ma dao cheng gong). Taking the lead and achieving success, horses 马,Mǎ is a perfect combination of power and beauty, which represents speed and strength in Chinese culture. Even Chinese people regards horses as the dragon on the earth. In sum, the utterance of “恭喜发财, 一马当先,马到成功!” is unique due to the cultural-historical context: the lunar new year and the year of the horse, so people use these idioms to express good wishes to the interlocutor.

On the other hand, the individuals make the languages they use authentic. You mean hear "Gong Xi Fa Cai" (pronunced like "gong she fa tsigh" in English) in Mandarin and "Gong Hey Fat Choy" in Cantonese during the lunar new year in China. Even though the pronunciations are a little different, both are written the same way: 恭喜发财. Mandarin Chinese is the official language in China, which is regarded as the standard and prestigious means of communication. However, there are eight major dialects as well. Hence, don’t be surprised if you hear Chinese people from different parts of China talk differently. Probably, people from one side of the mountain might speak a totally different dialect than the people from the other side of the mountain. Dialects represent the local culture and shapes the locals’ identity. When people meet each other, they might use the mandarin with their own accents to greet each other and then they might discuss the topics they are both interested in, which is shaped by each individual’s perspective. Since people all have different life experiences, their perspectives are valuable because of the uniqueness of their personal understandings towards life.

All in all, the authenticity of language relies on both the cultural-historical context and the perspectives of individuals within in it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Literature, History, and Ideology

        I find it interesting to investigate the relations among literature, history, and ideology.

        It is meaningful to understand historical context in the time a piece of literature was created when pursuing the deeper understanding of the literature. Historical context is the political, social, cultural, and economic setting in a given period of time. The cultural historical contexts influence the language, content, and style of the writing. Literature comes from life, and it is like a mirror, which reflect the world and the life of people in certain historical situations.
         When we read the work of Shakespeare, our teacher introduced the historical background of time of Queen Elizabeth and its leading naval and commercial power of the Western world. London was the cultural and economic center, whose dramatists and poets were among the best of the day. Shakespeare lived in that time and his works represent the world around him at that time. Elizabethan Age reminds me about Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), which was the most prosperous periods in Chinese history. It was also the heyday of classical Chinese poetry. I love reading poems and Du Fu was my favorite poet in that time. His poetry covered politics, social problems, and even his own personal family life.
        We are influenced by the ideologies from the literature we read and the information we perceived. Sometimes the government control the media through censorship, and the news and the books we read are biased to a certain degree. When we heard the perspectives from other ideologies, we feel the propaganda might be like brain-washing to a certain degree. I think the best way to learn about the world is to read from various views with their authentic understandings and then we can make a judgement and construct our own ideologies maybe..