There is no greater satisfaction for an educator or researcher than being able to see the fruits of his or her labor. I know this from experience. Allow me to occupy a few minutes of your time to share a language learning and teaching technique with you that has been showing positive results in my language courses over the past few months.


Second-language learners of English in Taiwan are, more often than not, quite familiar with English grammar. For the sake of explaining which verb tense or preposition is the correct choice for any of the numerous questions that appear in any of the English competency exams conducted in Taiwan, instructors must be fluent in the discourse of English grammar and have a flair for deconstructing sentences to enable students and test-takers to know right from wrong.


At the other end of the spectrum, native speakers of any language acquire communicative competence and grammatical ability largely through listening and mimicry without significant conscious attention to grammar. Native speakers know right from wrong through intuition. They can judge and produce their native language by referencing the dynamic linguistic corpus residing in the society around them as well as stored on their onboard language computer: the human brain.


So where does that leave second-language learners of English in Taiwan who must learn English largely out of context? In other words, in the Mandarin and Taiwanese language environment we have here, how can students best negotiate the linguistic transfer from their own native language and make progress in the second language without having the daily opportunities to contact and produce English in the way that native English speakers can? Is it possible for learners to efficiently close the gap between their interlanguage and the target language without leaving the island?


Fear not. The English language environment in Taiwan is much richer than it seems. It goes without saying that cable television and the Internet provide copious native English language resources for learners. For the more sensitive or discerning student, the variety of English language print media available provides the authentic materials than can stimulate and shepherd our language learners in reaching the next level of competence. And of course we always have that most fundamental space of second language learning and acquisition: the direct method classroom. There, once students accumulate the critical mass of linguistic forms to express ideas, they can emerge from the “silent period” and realize that speaking English among peers with error correction from the instructor is precisely the language environment they need for honing their growing skills in the four modalities. Students come to know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using the target language to communicate among other non-native speakers, especially when there is supervision. Getting them to continue this active practice outside of class is the trick.


Like archeologists scouring the environment for cultural treasure, I now send my students out on an assignment designated “English Artifact.” Throughout the course, their task is to seek out and collect examples of authentic English they find in Taiwan and share what they find with their classmates in class. Not all students immediately catch on, but a few do. And from their insightful examples, everyone begins to benefit. The most innocuous phrasal verb, collocation, or choice of words found in an English Artifact can provide the “why?” from a classmate that can facilitate analysis, contextualization, and practice of the form right on the spot.


Most importantly, students are able to put their knowledge of grammar to work as they peruse authentic English forms in which they are interested. The English Artifacts they find, no matter the medium, bridge the gap between the grammatical forms they have studied and the corpus of authentic English out there in the world. Through contact with English in contexts in which language learners have a vested interest, be it his or her favorite TV show, an email from a colleague at work, or the picture of a billboard from a trip to London, they come to realize exactly where, when, and with what frequency particular grammatical forms are deployed by native speakers. From the English Artifacts my students have presented, and by the ways in which they are able to describe them, my sense is that they are coming to have a better handle on which grammar and vocabulary items are most useful to have in their active vocabularies, and which forms are best suited to be cached in their passive vocabularies.


As I crossed the NTU campus on my way to sit down and draft this piece, I passed a convenience store near the bike repair place and noticed that its sign stated “Convenient Store.” Aside from displaying, quite simply, the differences in forming adjectives between Chinese and English, it also shows the potential of having our language learners plugged into a steady stream of authentic English language resources. With an increasing awareness of which language forms are used when and where, our students will be better equipped to produce authentic forms in the target language with a diminishing reliance on their native language. At a minimum, authentic forms can be accessed and emulated.


I know that this is all easier said than done, but I can also say, with confidence, that from the wonderful things my students have been presenting during class in recent months, they would all get a kick out of the sign I saw on campus. For all I know, the sign will be one of the English Artifacts I have the pleasure of seeing later in the term. I also trust, knock on wood, that it wasn’t one of my students who created that English Artifact! But even if it were, it just shows the ways in which this activity can bear fruit. Try it!

筆者為任教於台大語文中心外籍教師Brian Greene

想趁著明年元旦或春節假期出國去走走嗎?如果您有此計畫,就千萬不要錯過這一期的「英、日語進修班」唷!

日語進修班」為本中心與臺大日文系合開的班程,如果您從未學過日語,J1課程是從日語50音教起;已有基礎者,可依程度分別加入J2、J3或J4的行列,這些課程讓您透過按部就班、循序漸進的學習,穩扎穩打地將日語基本功夫練好。小班制的教學,更能藉著老師與學員間的互動與練習,加強您的會話能力,讓您不怕開口說日語!

英語進修班」提供您多樣化的課程,包括聽、說、讀、寫、及文法訓練,您可依自己的需求選擇想要加強的部分,讓您的學習更有效率。本期「英語進修班」在文法部分,除了廣受學員喜愛的「基礎文法與口語練習」和「中級文法與口語練習」外,特別新增由外籍名師授課的「高級文法」班,提供一系列完整的文法課程。趕快來看看自己適合哪個班別吧!

「基礎文法與口語練習」:從基本動詞時態到附屬子句,以淺顯易懂的概念,一步一步帶領學生熟悉英文文法基本結構,有效克服您對文法的恐懼,重拾對英文的信心。

「中級文法與口語練習」:補足基礎文法未學到的動詞時態,如未來進行式、未來完成式等,並進一步探討進階文法,包括不定詞、動名詞的應用以及寫作常用的子句句型,是對閱讀寫作有興趣同學的最佳選擇。

「高級文法」:以Advanced Language Practice為教材,由外籍名師授課,讓您跨越選擇填空式的文法知識,進入句型改寫及變化的實際語用層次,讓您的英語溝通及寫作的功力大增,適合已具備相當文法知識,需要加以靈活運用的您。

 
詳細資訊
詳細資訊

想要把英文學好,好的工具書是不可或缺的!除了字典之外,還有什麼工具書可以讓英文學習更上一層樓呢?在這裡推薦由Michael Swan所著的Practical English Usage給大家參考。這本書不僅僅是文法工具書,更是學習文法、閱讀及寫作的好幫手,書中有大量的範例及淺顯的說明,對於口語以及寫作英語亦有許多著墨。一些常會碰到的問題或是疑問,在書中幾乎都可以找到答案。此書的編排是按照A-Z的順序來討論各種單字、詞以及文法用語,類似字典式的排法,相當容易查閱,而在Contents Overview更將不同的類型相關的問題整理出來,方便讀者學習及比較。此外,在各個項目中,如果有相關的討論,作者也會在下面列出相關的項目,已方便查詢。心動了嗎?到下面的網站看更多的訊息吧,還有sample page可以看看,或是直接到書店找找有沒有這本書吧!

http://www.oup.com/elt/catalogue/isbn/7978?cc=global

 

 

國立台灣大學文學院語文中心外國語文組
電話:(02) 23630550
傳真:(02) 23630701
http://homepage.ntu.edu.tw/~ntulc/foreign/index.htm
電子郵件:ntulc@ntu.edu.tw