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[Xmca-l] Re: Request for advice

I don't suppose this is part of your remit, Helena, yet it seems relevant.
Has anyone undertaken a study indicating that emulation of "top
universities" is a successful strategy for becoming one? If the goal is to
be taken literally, then it is necessary to discern what the criteria will
be in 2037.

I quite liked David's point about using English for conceptual domains.
Perhaps an immersion in logical disputation (in English) is sufficient to
start with.

It seems to me that what you need to establish is a faculty based criteria
-- where you want to be in five years time, for example. Only when you have
some agreement on that is there much sense in sketching out detailed ways
to achieve it. If you don't have this yet, then it seems that what you will
be proffering are considerations towards this formulation.

Although it may seem impossible, it seems to me that this is something that
can actually be done, given the right circumstances. But I personally doubt
it can be achieved by "copying" other approaches, especially when you are
starting from a different situation -- a different language base, with
highly motivated students. I think you need something more radical.


On 3 January 2016 at 04:24, Helena Worthen <helenaworthen@gmail.com> wrote:

> That's a good idea.
> H
> Helena Worthen
> helenaworthen@gmail.com
> Vietnam blog: helenaworthen.wordpress.com
> On Jan 3, 2016, at 8:10 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
> > Is it possible, do you think, Helena, to convince them to draw a line
> between on the one hand, the lectures and text books, which are formal and
> maybe be prepared in advance, and on the other hand tutorials, which apart
> from being essential to the education provided by top-line universities are
> informal and conversational? Perhaps to allow mixing languages in the
> tutorials so that the concepts delivered in lectures and books can be
> *grasped*.
> > Andy
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > *Andy Blunden*
> > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> > On 3/01/2016 11:42 AM, Helena Worthen wrote:
> >> Hello,
> >>
> >> I am presently working at Ton Duc Thang University in Vietnam. English
> is all the rage.
> >>
> >> In an effort to become one of the "Top 100" universities in the world
> by 2037, TDTU has adopted a new curriculum, which will be taught in English.
> >>
> >> This plan results in many top-down practices that make me heartsick,
> such as trolling the internet to identify classes taught at Top 100
> universities (according to a certain list) that post syllabi that can be
> replicated and textbooks that can be bought, reduced to power points and
> then used to teach a class, in English by professors whose English may be
> good for reading or writing but is not ready for conversation.
> >>
> >> The plan is coming from the top administration. The students are used
> to working hard and getting over what I see as impossible obstacles (class
> size 70 or more, no private office hours for consultation, no books --
> unless you can borrow the teacher's copy and run to the copy shop). It's
> the teachers, who take their work seriously, who are caught in the middle.
> >>
> >> So I have been asked to make a presentation to the faculty about
> teaching methods. First time around, they asked me to describe teaching at
> Top 100 universities, meaning specifically US "top" places like Harvard,
> Cornell, Berkeley, Stanford. Since I actually have direct experience of
> these institutions for various reasons, I set to it and wrote about the
> working conditions for tenured faculty at elite institutions, the ups and
> downs of it.  This was not the presentation they wanted (low course load,
> small class size, big libraries, etc) so now I've been asked to be more
> concrete and talk about methods.
> >>
> >> I think I have to say something very clear about the problems of
> teaching in English when your English is not great.
> >>
> >> Let me emphasize that the teachers (lecturers, they are called; they
> mostly have MAs, not PhDs, are untenured and young -- in their 30s or early
> 40s at most) are serious about doing their jobs. yes, they are getting
> pressure from above and have been threatened with being replaced if they
> don't rise to the occasion. But they are also very serious about doing the
> right thing for their students. Getting an education in English is a door
> to the global world and they know it.
> >>
> >> I want to say that an English-only approach will oversimplify the
> concepts that they are hoping to transmit (share). Some concepts are
> incommensurate across languages and will require elaboration in the home
> language. This is probably true of whole registers of discipline-specific
> concepts, right?
> >>
> >> I am pretty sure that people on this list have experience with this.
> Can someone help me say this succinctly and clearly? I will probably only
> be able to devote a short paragraph to this in my actual presentation lest
> they hook me off the stage.
> >>
> >> Thanks in advance,
> >>
> >> Helena
> >> Helena Worthen
> >> helenaworthen@gmail.com
> >> Vietnam blog: helenaworthen.wordpress.com
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >