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[Xmca-l] Re: Request for advice

Thank you, Bella.

This is very good short list. I am now compiling that various advices I have received to sort them into things I can use for different purposes.


Helena Worthen
Vietnam blog: helenaworthen.wordpress.com

On Jan 3, 2016, at 7:55 PM, Bella Kotik-Friedgut wrote:

> Helena,  based on the Israeli experience, I would say that for
> non-English-speaking country oriented on English there have to be at least
> 3 problems to solve gradually:
> English as a FL for the whole system of education
> English for academic purposes at the higher education
> Translation of main handbooks and monograph for related professions, which
> will be a step to develop vocabularies  for each field.
> Sincerely yours Bella Kotik-Friedgut
> On Sun, Jan 3, 2016 at 2:42 AM, Helena Worthen <helenaworthen@gmail.com>
> 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