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[Xmca-l] Re: Request for advice
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 <email@example.com>
> 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 Worthen
> Vietnam blog: helenaworthen.wordpress.com