二十五年的實驗-1
一顆母親的心

陳碧華 執筆
2009年3月17日

早餐桌上爾嘉興奮的告訴我,他剛剛查了電子信件,史丹佛大學也給了他研究所入學許可。這是兩個禮拜以來,繼麻省理工和柏克萊大學之後,第三所學校傳來的好消息,而且有的學校還給予五年全額獎學金和學雜費全免的優渥條件。望著爾嘉興奮的臉龐,感覺窗外的陽光特別燦爛,心中的喜悅豈是筆墨可以形容?在經濟海嘯中,爾嘉一個土生土長的台灣學生,竟然可以擊敗來自各國的競爭高手,不但取得入學資格,而且還可以替我們省下千萬元花費,更重要的是我長達二十五年的實驗,終於可以宣佈大功告成。

二十五年前公費留考出國的錫東,在取得康乃爾大學的博士學位之後,放棄康乃爾提供的正式職缺,決定返國貢獻所學。當時爾康正就讀幼稚園,爾嘉即將出生,我MBA研究所尚未完成,帶著ㄧ心的不滿與懊惱返台定居。

 

爾康雖不滿五歲,但說得一口紐約腔的英語,回到台灣別說沒有說英語的對象,連教英語的學校也沒有,所有幼稚園依舊保留打罵式的教育,天性敏感的爾康,每天找盡各種藉口不願意上學,外加對台灣潮濕炎熱的氣候不適應,全身長瘡流膿。ㄧ個人見人愛的漂亮小男孩,竟然折騰成這個樣子。在心疼孩子,對台灣教育充滿失望,又憤怒錫東個人的決定,我暗暗立下心願,我絕對要讓我的孩子保留他的英語能力,隨時我們可以重返美國,繼續未完成的學業!

在美國友人Dotor Zinaman夫婦的建議下,我在自家的客廳開始了我的實驗,我希望自己能把美國的教育搬回家來,讓孩子擁有雙語能力。我們的爾康和兩個朋友的孩子就這樣開始了我這個沒有厘頭的實驗,有時上課,懷裡還必須抱著沒人照顧的爾嘉。坦白的說台灣當時只有制式的成人英語教學,國外也沒有任何案例可供參考,我其實腦筋一片茫然,唯一擁有的就是心中那把熊熊烈火,想要保留爾康英語能力和爾嘉學好英語的機會。

靠著自己的想像力,我自己收尋資料,編寫教材,甚至繪製圖畫,學唱英語兒歌,任何只要是能讓孩子覺得有趣的方法我都會嘗試。或許這顆母親的心讓孩子覺得溫暖,爾康爾嘉幾乎是照單全收我精心製作的實驗。為了讓他們真正可以自然使用英文,我堅持只用英語和他們交談,我的「鐵腕政策」的確很有功效,只是在外常常得到旁人異樣的眼光,在家裡錫東有時會抱怨工作一整天,腦筋已經停擺,還需聽英文,所以他是家裡唯一說中文的人。如果家裡有訪客,往往一頭霧水搞不清楚這是一個什麼奇怪的家庭,道地的雞同鴨講!


A Twenty-Five Year Experiment 1
A Mother’s Heart

By Bih-Hua Chen
March 17, 2009

At breakfast Chia told me excitedly that he had received an email from Standford University the night before about admission to study at its graduate school.  This was the third graduate school in two weeks after MIT and Berkeley accepted his application.  Looking at Chia’s brilliant smile, I felt the sun was extremely bright today.  There were no words that could express my feelings.  What a great honor for Chia to have this privilege to study at a world top school with a full scholarship.  Most importantly, I can finally claim that my twenty-five year experiment is well completed and my hypothesis has been proven correct.  The earlier, the better in learning English.

Twenty five years ago, Shyi-Dong decided to return to Taiwan to serve his country after he completed his doctoral studies.  I was very upset with his decision because I was just half way through my graduate studies in MBA and Kang was happily enjoying his kindergarten.  In addition, Shyi-Dong already got an excellent job offer from Cornell University which would guarantee our family a good life in the States.  However, I had no choice but follow him.

Kang was five years old and spoke like an American boy with a New York accent.  I felt sad that I couldn’t find any school in Taiwan to continue and keep up his English skills.  In addition, all the kindergartens in Taichung still ran in a very conservative way focusing on repetitive drills and the memorization of facts.  Every morning Kang made up all kinds of excuses to avoid going to school because it was painful for him.  To make things worse, the hot humid weather caused Kang severe skin infections.  Seeing him suffer in this new life and worried about him losing his English ability, I was very frustrated and angry with the situation I was in.  Deep in my heart I swore that I would bring Kang back to the States one day.

After hearing all my complaints, my best American friend, Mrs. Yve Zinaman, suggested that I should establish a school which could meet my own needs.  In a few months, I set up my own program in our living room to help Kang along with two other friends’ children to learn English.  It was such a modest start because there was no equipment and resources.  I was the only teacher, only administrator and only janitor in this tiny home school.  At times I had to teach the kids while Chia was fidgeting in my arms because there was no one to look after him.  I had no idea where to head for and what to do.  The only thing I had was the burning desire that I SHALL RETURN.

With my own imagination, I collected materials, designed the curriculum, learned the children’s songs and drew pictures for the lessons.  I tried everything I could to arouse the kids’ interests.  Slowly but steadily, Kang and Chia absorbed everything I taught and we had fun learning the language together.  In order to let them get the exposure to English as much as possible, I used English only with them all the time.  It was certainly a challenge and at times Shyi-Dong complained that he was sick and tired of hearing English at home after a long day’s work; but fortunately, he was too busy with his research work to complain. It seemed that my stubbornness in keeping up Kang’s English did work.  I felt I had a magic wand in my hand and I could easily help Kang and Chia pick up the language.

 

兒童雙語幼稚園:
康乃爾&康爾嘉英語【官方網站】http://www.ecornel.com.tw
康乃爾&康爾嘉英語【facebook粉絲團】http://www.facebook.com.tw/cornelfans
康乃爾&康爾嘉英語【Youtube影音網】http://www.youtube.com/user/corneltai

英文有聲書雜誌:
彩虹時間兒童英語故事有聲月刊【部落格】http://www.wretch.cc/blog/CRainbowTime
彩虹時間兒童英語故事有聲月刊【facebook粉絲團】http://www.facebook.com.tw/rtfans

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