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学生变了,华文教学能不变吗?

2006-09-24 13:27

  Speaking at the official opening of The Chinese High Boarding School last week, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the Ministry of Education has piloted a bilingual approach towards the teaching of Chinese.

  Under this new approach, bilingual teachers will use English as a supplementary medium of instruction to assist students from English-speaking families in learning the Chinese language.

  According to the official Singapore Census of Population, the number of Chinese Singaporeans using Mandarin as their main household language increased sharply from 10.2% in 1980 to 29.8% in 1990 and 45.1% in 2000.

  Likewise, the number of Chinese Singaporeans using English as their main household language also increased steadily from 7.9% in 1980 to 19.2% in 1990 and 23.9% in 2000.

  However, figures of the Census of Population 2000 clearly showed that 35.8% of Chinese children aged between five and 14 use English as their main household language, compared with 21.5% of Chinese youths aged between 15 and 24.

  The gradual language shift from Mandarin to English as a main household language indicates that English will potentially emerge as the ethnic Chinese lingua franca in place of Mandarin should the current trend continue.

  With the robust development of the Chinese economy and the stable growth of Sino-Singapore trade, the government has reiterated the importance of developing a pool of bilingual Chinese elites.

  Young civil service officials have been sent to China for attachment while senior civil servants have attended Executive Programmes in China's leading universities.

  A Sino-Singapore exchange programme specially targeted at tertiary students will commence this year.

  Yet all these measures clearly show that the authorities have no intention to change the current language policy under which English is the dominant language in schools. The Chinese community should realise that it is impossible to reverse the rapid growth of English-speaking families within the community.

  The main rationale for implementing the bilingual approach is to help students from English-speaking families to tackle problems at the beginning stage in learning Chinese. Chinese teachers face an increasingly uphill task in the years to come.

  Furthermore, English is currently taught as the dominant medium of instruction for the learning of all content subjects, with the respective ethnic mother tongues as merely a single compulsory subject in schools.

  The ideal goal under the current unified language policy is to train and produce learners who are effectively bilingual in both English and Chinese.

  Yet given our existing Chinese educational resources and social environment, it is still not impossible to produce a pool of bilingual Chinese talent to help Singapore ride on the growth of China.

  Besides continuously strengthening the Sino-Singapore exchange among government officials, the Chinese teaching circle should dispel any prejudices and fully support the proposed creative teaching methods.

  For example, universities or private organisations should design intensive courses on Chinese language for specialised fields, such as Chinese for science and technology, Chinese for business, Chinese for legal practice, and so on. Such courses should be specially customised for selected bilinguals and focus on the mastery of English-Chinese translating skills through a bilingual approach towards the teaching of Chinese language.

  It will not only make full use of learners' fundamental professional concepts, but also activate their meta-cognition and background knowledge in English, thereby enabling them to become a bilingual in their own professional field within the shortest period of time.

  At this critical juncture, the government and the private sector should take active steps to reward English-Chinese bilinguals.

  The Ministry of Education could establish various English-Chinese bilingual proficiency tests and any bilingual who has been awarded a recognised diploma under such tests should be given an additional substantive allowance or promotion prospects.

  To meet the increasing demand for English-Chinese documents, professional organisations, such as the Chinese-language newspapers of Singapore Press Holdings, could consider establishing a“centre for reviewing bilingual documents”to assist government agencies and the private sector to review translated texts.

  。The writer is an Assistant Professor and Co-ordinator, Asian Languages and Cultures Academic Group (Chinese), National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University.

  日前李显龙副总理在华中寄宿学校的开幕礼上,透露教育部正在进行双语华文教学法试验性计划。这显示政府正视英语家庭学子学习华语的困境,而且采取对症下药的解决办法。

  从官方人口普查数字可看出,以华语为主要家庭用语的华族人口迅速增长,从1980年的10.2%骤升至1990年的29.8%与2000年的45.1%.

  至于英语,纵然仍处于次位,也呈现稳定增长,从1980年的7.9%倍增至1990年的19.2%与2000年的23.9%.

  更值得注意的是,2000年人口普查统计还显示:35.8%年龄介于5-14岁的华族儿童以英语作为主要家庭用语,而年龄介于15-24岁的华族青年只有21.5%以英语为主要家庭用语。

  这种“脱华入英”的趋势,在相差10岁年轻族群间以超过10%的速度推进,如果没有太大的变动,快则10年、慢则20年,英语将成为新加坡华人最主要的族群母语,而华语将变成透过课堂学习而来的外语。

  虽然近年新加坡与中国的经贸交往日渐密切,新加坡政府为顺势搭上中国经济成长的顺风车,不断强调培养华文精英的重要性。

  然而,先前的做法多半限于派遣年轻官员到中国的机构实习、高级官员到中国修读特设的行政课程以及今年即将推行的新中大专学生交流计划,让他们有机会见识中国的发展与了解中国所面对的问题。可见,当局并无意因此而改变目前以英语为主导的语文政策。

  所以,华社必须务实地认识到本地华族英语家庭的增长趋势不可能有所逆转。采行双语华文教学法只是协助来自英语家庭的年轻学子摆脱初期学习华语的困境,未来华语教学界要面对的挑战更是日益艰巨。

  再说,在目前以英语为主要教学媒介,“母语”华语仅为一门必修科目的国民型英华双语教育制度下,期望所有学习者华英双语能力同等优异只是个“理想”的教育目标。

  但是,以新加坡原有的华语教育资源及社会环境,要培养出一定比例(约20%)的双语人才,以应对中国崛起的需要,也并非难事。

  倘若要更有效率地解决当前急务,除了继续加强新中人员的交流,华文教育界也应抛弃成见,以创新的教学法全力支援。

  大专学府或民间教育机构应开设专业华语(例如:科技华语、商业华语、法律华语等)密集课程或者翻译课程。这些过渡性的华语加强课程,无需要求全面提升华语的一般语言技能,只要着重在英华语对译能力的提升,充分利用学习者已具备的基本英语专业概念,通过英华语并用的双语教学法,让学习者在最短时间内兼通专业领域的英华术语。

  在这个关键的时刻,政府及企业部门也应积极奖励具备英华双语能力的双语人才,教育当局可设立各种标准的英华双语鉴定考试,凡是获得合格证书的官员或员工,都应给予实质的加给奖励或升等。

  另外,由于政府或民间机构目前均无法在短期内培养足够的双语人才,倘若要应付日渐增多的英华翻译文件,可考虑由报业控股华文报集团等专业机构,尽快成立“双语文件审核中心”,协助政府及企业严格审查译文。

  。作者为南大国立教育学院中文系助理教授兼助理主任

  《联合早报》

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