二十五年的實驗3
全英語幼稚園

陳碧華 執筆

我的小而美的教室原先學生一周只上兩次課,雖然課堂上全程使用英語,我觀察學習到的只是皮毛,與理想有很大的差距。1990年爾嘉在上了一年中文幼稚園之後,我認為不能再拖延他學習的最好時機,因為所有的母語學習都在嬰幼兒時期,雖然英語不是母語,但若仿照母語學習的方式,成功機率應該會比較大,我認為我必須為他打造ㄧ個全英語的環境,利用外國老師教授全部的幼稚園課程,如此他就如同哥哥爾康在美國讀幼稚園一樣,雖然人在台灣。

我這項壯舉當時沒人敢嘗試,家長質疑這麼小學習英文,是不是會影響中文學習?而且大家擔心的只是升學考試,家長認為幼稚園離升學還很遙遠,恐怕學了也是不了了之,何況當時台灣外國人有限,師資來源就是一大問題。不過我心中很清楚的知道,我的孩子將來不但要能在台灣應付升學,而且要在國外唸研究所,甚至長大成人後能夠在國際舞台上自由發揮。爾康剛回台灣時,我試著拿了高中聯考的英文試題給他嘗試,雖然他那時才幼稚園年紀,但居然成績可以達到九十多分,我的想法是如果幼稚園就輕鬆自然可以學會的東西,為什麼要等到十年後才痛苦勉強的學習?至於學習英文會干擾學習中文,我認為是沒有理論基礎,言過其實。我在美國看過許多的孩子,他們的語言能力幾乎完全取決於家長的態度,孩子本身是隨時可以切換不同語言,至少在台灣會說台語的孩子,也沒聽說中文就不好。

心意既定,我就不顧一切勇往直前,除了自己教學,還尋找最好的老師共襄盛舉,為了自己的孩子,我當然希望能有最棒的老師,才能在最短時間內達到最大效果。很幸運當時我自己也在靜宜外文系教書有些外國同事,外加認識一些外國傳教士,以及擔任製造F14戰鬥機美國顧問的妻子,我們小小學校臥虎藏龍,他們被我這做母親的心願感動,一起來幫我執行當時視同天方夜譚的工作。

或許真情真的可以感動天,我自己摸索出來的課程竟然用在別人家的孩子身上也還真行得通。當時我只有一個信念,用學習母語的方式學習英文,換言之,就是製造一個全英語的情境,由聽開始,慢慢引導口說,利用大量的圖畫故事,透過自然發音的規則,培養孩子閱讀,當他們具備基本的聽、說、讀的能力之後,再引導他們開始寫,由單字到句子到短文,由身邊的事物到複雜的論述。

而且我深信故事書最能引起孩子的興趣,也培養孩子獨立學習的能力。當時全台灣只有台北一、二家進口書店為了外僑販售童書,每逢假日我不辭辛勞帶著襁褓中的爾嘉,牽著幼稚園的爾康,一趟趟的來回台北台中選購適合他们的童書,直到整個書店的故事書幾乎都被我收購一空。美國Yve Zinaman太太知道我的需求,也源源不斷的自美國將她從二手書店,以及車庫拍賣買來的童書寄來當做補充教材,而我自己就是這麼孤獨的,一點一滴打造這個沒人認同的實驗。


 

A Twenty-Five Year Experiment – 3
A Pioneering Program For Chia

By Bih-Hua Chen

In the first few years, my small school offered a program which required the students to come twice a week for a two-hour lesson each time.  Even though the only language used in class was English, I found it ineffective and I was afraid that it could never reach my goals.  In 1989, Chia was at kindergarten age, and I was worried that he would miss his critical time to learn English if he was not able to study in an English environment.  Without any hesitation, I made a radical change at the school which was to help the young kids to follow the same method as if learning their mother tongue language.  Therefore, I hired foreign teachers to carry out an American curriculum.  I tried to create an environment for Chia in Taiwan which was the same as what Kang had in the States.

My pioneering work didn’t get too much support in the beginning.  Parents had doubts and thought that the immersion program would interfere Chinese learning.  In addition, their main concerns were how to help their children pass the college entrance exams and qualified for the best ones.  They also doubted that the young kids could remember when they grow up what they had learned at such a young age.  The rarity of foreigners in Taiwan was another problem, not to mention qualified foreign teachers.  However, I was determined to knock down all the obstacles.  I believed that I could make the impossible possible for my own boys. 

The first thing I did to gain the parents’ support was to let Kang try an English test designed for prospective college students.  I tried to find out where Kang stood compared with those students who were in their late teens.  The result was very positive.  Kang could easily answer 90% of the questions and he was only seven years old at the time.  This reassured me that it could definitely work on young kids if we let them learn English in an immersion program.  My observation on young kids learning in America also strengthened my belief that learning English would not hinder Chinese learning.  When we lived in the States, many friends’ young kids could switch back and forth between different languages if they wanted to.  It was the same in Taiwan that most kids learned a Taiwanese dialect at home but spoke Mandarin fluently at school.  My conclusion was that the second language would not hinder the first one as long as both languages were used constantly.

Since this new kindergarten program was specially designed for Chia, I tried to find the best native English speaking teachers.  I believed that good teachers made a tremendous difference for students and I really hoped that this pilot project wouldn’t fail.  Fortunately, I found all the teachers I needed immediately.  Some of them were my colleagues from the English Department of Providence University; some were my friends who came with their husbands through a state-run project of building fighter planes; some were missionaries whom I was acquainted with through the church.  They helped me carry out this unprecedented work without any hesitation after listening to my big plans for my own boys.

Amazingly, this new immersion program worked beautifully on Chia, and it also worked well on other kids.  The secret was very simple that I just followed the way of learning a mother tongue.  Slowly but steadily they pick up the language.

The other strategy I relied heavily upon was to use stories to stimulate their interests in learning.  However, English children’s books were not easy to get in Taiwan.  In fact, they could only be found in two bookstores in Taipei.  In order to get them, I had to take Kang and Chia to shop there often.  Shopping was my love but it was quite a challenge to bring a heavy load of books home along with two young boys.  The other resource was from my good friend, Yve.  When she heard about the difficulty finding books in Taiwan, she searched for books from garage sales or second-hand shops for me.

This was how I started my school, slowly and lonely, but firmly I was heading for my goals.  I knew one day I will GET there!

 

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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  • bruce
  • 美國小學課本, 英語學習相關圖畫書, 讀本, 小說全面清倉大特賣!

    作夢也想不到的優惠, 書展也沒有的價格! 愛書的朋友好好把握此次難得的機會!

    錦英 04-22961377 台中市北區文昌東一街7號