二十五年的實驗5
雲霄飛車

陳碧華 執筆

我從來沒想到當初想幫助爾康爾嘉學習英文的單純念頭,竟然變成有如搭乘雲霄飛車般驚險刺激,當年痛苦宣佈學校結束只是其中一個驚恐的俯衝。

由於我堅持全英語環境的教學,當學校還小的時候,我的外國朋友及同事綽綽有餘可以幫助我,但是當學校不斷成長,聘請優秀外籍老師已經是每年例行公事。我必須承認在早期我犯了不少錯誤,學到許多寶貴的教訓。最令人心痛的是,有些老師在面談的時候猶如天使,一旦上任卻變成惡魔。壓傷駱駝的最後一根稻草,是一個高大英俊的美國男老師,在我們舉行成果發表會的當天,大鬧現場,直到我抓起電話請警察來處理,他才悻悻然離去。雖然一年後這個男老師親自前來道歉,並寫了一封文情並茂的信告訴我當時是受了一個中籍老師的煽動,誤信她的話語,即使他如何誠懇,我再也不敢相信在台灣找工作的外國人,這些在台灣吃香喝辣的外國人,憑著一張外國臉,就踩在我們頭上撒野,令人氣憤!為了幫助孩子學英文,還得看這些自以為是的外國人臉色,我決定直接在美國聘請教育系畢業,有教師資格的老師。問題是當時孩子又小,錫東研究工作自顧不暇,我如何能出國招募師資?。幸好我的好朋友Yve又立即伸出援手,因此我們成為台灣唯一可以與外僑學校媲美的私人語言學校,十多年來就源源不斷從英語系國家引進當地在職老師。

雖然聘用合格專業外籍老師的問題獲得解決,但外籍老師因為適應不良,或是疾病、車禍事件層出不窮,有時還必須立即解約,甚至送他們回國,每當外師中途離去,家長通常無法諒解,各種責難排山倒海而來,學校動蕩不安,陷入困境,幸好我還夠堅強,每次都有驚無險平安度過,但這樣的生活真是如履薄冰令人提心吊膽。

除了外籍老師的問題,家長也是很大的挑戰。有的家長千方百計將孩子送來康乃爾就讀,但又認為學校應該聽他們的指揮,只是他们忽略了一個事實,就是康乃爾是一個母親為自己孩子設立的學校,任何阻撓都不可能影響這個母親。往往在經過無數次溝通後,我們寧可破天荒的全額退費,請他們另請高明。偏偏他們卻抱著玉石俱焚的心態,認為如果他的孩子讀不成康乃爾,也一定要讓康乃爾關門,讓其他孩子也讀不成。記得有一年夏天,我陪同錫東去英國參加一個國際會議,才踏進旅館,工作人員就告訴我有一個來自台灣的傳真。懷著忐忑不安的心情接過傳真,上面寫著:「家長黑函,政府派員調查,請速回!」類似這樣的事件不計其數,家長的惡劣行徑,令我真懷疑這世界上到底還有沒有好人?我在幫助他們為孩子一起圓夢,他們不感激也便罷了,為何還要如此恩將仇報?或許也是被這些家長嚇大了,我堅持康乃爾必需零缺點,隨時應付一些瘋狂的家長到處檢舉。

由於康乃爾是採用完全顛覆傳統的方式,學習也以3或4歲幼兒為起步,在當時保守的社會被視為異類,不過許多家長因為過去自身學習英文的慘痛經驗,聽到我的理念,趨之若鶩,我受人之託,更卯盡全力想驗證我的假說是正確的。沒想到當初純粹為了爾康爾嘉設立的學校無心插柳柳成蔭,學生人數不斷攀升,家長甚至必須排隊抽籤等候,許多家長更是一發現懷孕就趕緊登記報名,有的家長乾脆搬家或轉學,為的只是到康乃爾卡位。看到康乃爾爆紅,商業頭腦敏銳的地產商竟然發現這是賺錢商機,邀請我與他們合作,由我提供軟體負責營運,而他們負責資金以及硬體。這是一個讓康乃爾轉型成為企業的好機會,但是我拒絕了所有上門的投資客,理由很簡單,因為這是個為爾康爾嘉進行的實驗,我不願意在金錢遊戲中,讓這個實驗產生偏差。

合作不成,建商有的是錢,依照康乃爾模式,如法泡製,大量複製。剎那間全英語情境學習成為顯學,雙語幼稚園也如雨後春筍到處林立,但也因為由商業利益為出發點辦學,許多家長花了大錢,浪費了時間,卻看不到學習成效。而且傳統式幼稚園,無法與建商大手筆投資興建的雙語幼稚園競爭,經營陷入困境。2003年教育部受到傳統幼稚園業者的壓力,乾脆利用一些專家學者似是而非的研究報告,全面執行封殺幼兒學習英語政策,從此台灣所有幼兒英語教育走入地下化。


 

A Twenty-Five Year Experiment 5
A Roller Coaster Ride

By Bih-Hua Chen

I never thought that helping my own boys to become bilingual could be like riding on a roller coaster.  The bitter decision of making the announcement to close up Cornel was just one of the dives on the roller coaster.

Since the program I designed was to create an English environment for the students, I insisted on hiring native English speakers to teach.  When the school was small, I had friends who were very kind to help out, but as the school grew I couldn’t simply count on friends.  Recruiting teachers had become one of the most important jobs every year.  In the first few years, I learned many valuable lessons about finding teachers locally.  No matter how careful I was, I had to admit that I made many mistakes.  It was heartbreaking to see someone who acted like an angel at an interview became a complete jerk at work.  I knew the only solution was to go to the States to find qualified teachers, but I couldn’t travel because Kang and Chia were too young and Shyi-Dong was too busy with his research.  Fortunately, Yve saw the problem and volunteered to help out.  Thus, we built up a channel to hire certified teachers directly from the States in the early 90s.  We were very proud that we were the only private school in Taiwan which had the equivalent teaching quality as international schools, but the students didn’t need foreign passports to study at Cornel.  We helped numerous parents to fulfill their dreams without sending their kids abroad.

Hiring the qualified teachers definitely solved the problems and kept Cornel on the cutting edge.  However, there were still times when the teachers ran into troubles or got severely sick, and we had to send them home immediately.  When the teacher left, there was no way to fill up the vacancy right away and it was always a disaster. I was glad that I was tough enough to go through all the crises but it was like constantly walking on egg shells.

Despite the troubles with the teachers, the parents were also another challenge.  There were times that some parents felt that they could manipulate the school but they didn’t know that they could never challenge a mother.  How could they challenge me if the school was established for my own boys?  However, some parents just felt that they would rather destroy the school instead of taking a refund and leaving.  One incident I remember vividly is when I traveled to England with Shy-Dong one summer in the early 90s, right after we stepped into the hotel, the clerk told me that there was a fax for me.  I read the message and it said:  “Come back quickly, the parent, XXX, is turning the school up side down!”  I can’t remember how many nerve-wrecking incidents like this there were since I established the School.  Some parents were so nasty and they made me wonder whether there were good people in the world.

Since our immersion program didn’t follow the conventional way and we took in students when they were only three or four years old.  Cornel was considered very radical in terms of education.  However, the good news spread out like wild fire, and parents were very anxious to sign their children up at Cornel.  Many parents believed that Cornel was the only hope for them to help their children become bilingual without going abroad. There was always a long waiting list and parents had to draw the numbers like a lottery to secure a place.  Many mothers signed their child up once they found they were pregnant and a lot of families moved their homes to be closer to Cornel.  All of a sudden, Cornel became the most demanded school and I was the most valuable woman.  Many investors tried to persuade me to run schools for them if they took care of all the investment.  Needless to say the offers were very tempting because Cornel could immediately become an enterprise.  However, I turned down all the generous offers.  The reason was simple.  It was an experiment for Kang and Chia, and I definitely didn’t want to ruin it.

The investors were disappointed with my decisions; however, they had all the money they needed to build schools.  The easiest way was to just copy what Cornel was doing.  Suddenly, many splendid bilingual schools were everywhere.  It became trendy to send children to bilingual kindergartens.  On the contrary, most traditional kindergartens could barely survive because of the loss of the students to the new bilingual schools.  They pushed the government to forbid any kindergartens from hiring foreign teachers to teach English.  It happened to meet the government’s new policy which was to focus on a Taiwanese dialect in education.  Therefore, all the bilingual kindergartens became illegal overnight!

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

 

文章標籤
創作者介紹
創作者 康乃爾英語 的頭像
康乃爾英語

康乃爾/康爾嘉英語

康乃爾英語 發表在 痞客邦 留言(0) 人氣()