Tan Liang Summer Studying China Programs


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Tan Liang Summer Studying China Programs

  1. 1. Summer Study in China Programs: Two Different Roadmaps for Success Dr. Dali Tan Landon School Dr. Elisa Liang China Institute
  2. 2. Because Study Abroad Programs work with students under ideal “conditions of learning”, they provide perfect opportunities for participants to gain what Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe call “six facets of understanding.” (Explanation, interpretation, application, perspective, empathy and self-knowledge).
  3. 3. I hope that my study of the homestay immersion experience of Landon-in-China that took place over several years will contribute to “our understanding of what is learned, by whom and under what conditions” in study abroad contexts (DuFon and Eton, p. 27) so that we can design more effective study abroad programs that will help equip American students with 21st century skills and competence.
  4. 4. According to B. Cambourne in Whole Story, there are eight major conditions of learning: Immersion, Demonstration, Eng agement, Expectation, Responsi bility, Use, Approximation and Response.
  5. 5. Immersion—Study Abroad students are surrounded both visually and aurally by what we want our students to learn. Demonstration—Study abroad participants see and hear authentic use of language and practice of culture constantly.
  6. 6. Engagement—Learners will engage in learning if they see themselves as potential doers of the learning and understand how it will further their lives. Study aboard participants live abroad and are required to use Chinese in real life communicative situations. Expectation—Study abroad directors should set high expectations for the participants in their improvement in both language proficiency and cultural competence.
  7. 7. Responsibility—Study abroad participants have the choice about what they want to focus their attention in their sojourn in China. Use—Study abroad participants practice/use their linguistic skills and cultural knowledge to gain deeper cultural understanding and intercultural competence.
  8. 8. Approximation—Teachers do not put emphasis on correctness and error avoidance. Study abroad participants are encouraged to form their own hypothesis, test it out and get feedback in real life communicative situations. Response—Study abroad students make attempt to use language and their teachers, host families, people in the community respond with enthusiasm and celebration of their efforts.
  9. 9. Through homestay programs students gain intercultural competence as they engage in “negotiation of difference” (Kinginger) and start to value the perspectives of others. Home stay in study abroad programs is potentially more meaningful as a learning experience in high school than in college because it keeps students more connected to local realities.
  10. 10. Unlike adult students who consider themselves independent and choose their own activities and perhaps their own interpretations more than younger students do, high school students are better equipped to blend into their host families, both because of their own approach to learning and because the families are more likely to really act in loco parentis, thus keeping a closer watch over them and attending more carefully to their needs than they would with 'adult' students.
  11. 11. In her paper “American students abroad: Negotiation of difference?” Kinginger (2008b) calls for “studies linking language learning to the negotiation of difference and the development of global awareness, intercultural competence, and civic responsibility.” Even though there are obvious linguistic gains in a short 4-week homestay individual placement immersion program for high school students, their most lasting and valuable gains lies in increased intercultural competence.
  12. 12. What is intercultural competence? “Briefly, intercultural competence involves five elements: Attitudes; Knowledge; Skills of interpreting and relating; Skills of discovery and interaction and Critical cultural awareness/political education (Byram, 2000).
  13. 13. Attitudes: curiosity and openness, readiness to suspend disbelief about other cultures and belief about one's own. Knowledge: of social groups and their products and practices in one's own and in one's interlocutor's country, and of the general processes of societal and individual interaction. Skills of interpreting and relating: ability to interpret a document or event from another culture, to explain it and relate it to documents from one's own.
  14. 14. Skills of discovery and interaction: ability to acquire new knowledge of a culture and cultural practices and the ability to operate knowledge, attitudes and skills under the constraints of real-time communication and interaction. Critical cultural awareness/political education: an ability to evaluate critically and on the basis of explicit criteria perspectives, practices and products in one's own and other cultures and countries.
  15. 15. Using Byram as my primary theorist on intercultural competence and testimonies by male and female high school students from different ethnic backgrounds and different religious groups, I find that the successful and rewarding experiences of high schoolers in my study make a sharp contrast to those documented in the literature in which authors find that homestay situations for college students were not very helpful.
  16. 16. Their testimonies speak volumes on the impact of homestay experience on high school students’ enhanced attitudes toward Chinese speakers and Chinese cultures, friendships with Chinese speakers, enhanced intercultural competence in “negotiation of difference” (ability to appreciate different points of views of the Chinese) and emerging critical cultural awareness.
  17. 17. “Attitudes: curiosity and openness, readiness to suspend disbelief about other cultures and belief about one's own.” Even middle and high school international travel programs help motivate younger students in learning a foreign language.
  18. 18. “Skills of discovery and interaction: ability to acquire new knowledge of a culture and cultural practices and the ability to operate knowledge, attitudes and skills under the constraints of real-time communication and interaction.” Another crucial factor in intercultural competence lies in “skills of discovery and interaction.” High school participants in a homestay situation learned the skills of living in another culture as well as the pragmatics of interpersonal communication in informal settings.
  19. 19. “Critical cultural awareness/political education: an ability to evaluate critically and on the basis of explicit criteria perspectives, practices and products in one's own and other cultures and countries.” The cross-cultural social network the homestay immersion experiences provide for our participants serve to promote “critical cultural awareness” that enables them to understand Chinese culture from different points of views. Our participants became citizen ambassadors for America and its values as well as better citizens of the world.
  20. 20. The Importance of doing home stay immersion in high schools In contrast to college-level study abroad programs in which participants are often independent in many activities, in the Landon-in-China Program all parties assume a role of in loco parentis for students. The program director, the Chinese host parents as well as the host siblings jointly serve as participants’ guides and almost as parents. As a rule, LIC participants are never allowed to be alone — they have to be with their host parent and/or host sibling or with LIC program staff.
  21. 21. In her “American students abroad: Negotiation of difference?” Kinginger (2008b) points out that American post-secondary study abroad groups are often short-term transfer of cohesive groups to foreign settings and, while abroad, American students tend to rely upon each other or their programs for social and psychological support. This tendency to stay in the native speaker group prevented, albeit unintentionally, participants from taking full advantage of the opportunities of being fully engaged with the local communities and developing deeper relationships with native speakers.
  22. 22. In sharp contrast, the LIC Program in general discourages its American participants from gathering together after school. Except for four hours of language classes in the morning, the program invites all Chinese host brothers and sisters to join the afternoon cultural classes and excursions as well as weekend trips to surrounding cultural, historical and scenic sites. The program also works very hard at matching the interests and hobbies of participants with those of Chinese host siblings, whenever possible.
  23. 23. The application packet includes an extensive American student profile and those profiles are sent to the two exchange schools in Beijing and Chengdu so they can try to find ideal host families for participants. In January and February, the exchange schools send their students to Landon School for three weeks to live in our students’ homes.
  24. 24. In some cases, Landon students who hosted Chinese exchange students will have a home stay with those same Chinese students. So, when many of the LIC students arrive in China, some of them already know or have previously met their Chinese host siblings. This kind of exchange helps to facilitate participants’ interaction with Chinese siblings.
  25. 25. In comparison with adult learners, it is much easier for high school students to blend in to their host families (in a much sheltered way) and become a member of a Chinese family with the help of a host brother or sister of the same age. Culturally, because many Chinese people still believe that Chinese is SO difficult to learn and they appreciate so much an outsider's attempt at learning about their language and culture, they often bombard my students with praise and words and acts of encouragement.
  26. 26. My students received lavish praise from host families for their sometimes marginal performance in Chinese. This tendency also helped those students to have more satisfying and rewarding homestay experiences. Participants who had study-abroad homestay immersion experiences in high school definitely had more of an advantage than their peers in college programs who had never had such an experience. Participants’ testimonies in this study also illustrate that homestay immersion at a high school level is the best way to help students acquire quot;intercultural competencequot; as defined by Byram -- intercultural attitudes, knowledge, skills and critical cultural awareness.
  27. 27. Because of financial and personal reasons, most American students – including many who study the Chinese language – may not have the opportunity to visit China. Therefore, it is imperative that educational institutions in the U.S. make it a top priority to bring native Chinese speakers and different aspects of Chinese cultures and traditions to American students. Academic and cultural exchange programs can help promote as well as enhance Chinese language teaching and learning.
  28. 28. Quite apart from study-abroad programs, schools may bring language and culture learning opportunities to their home campuses. An example of this is the American/Chinese Academic Exchange component of Landon School‘s Chinese program. Landon School has three sister schools in China: Beijing Xicheng Foreign Language School, the high school affiliated with Fudan University, and Chengdu Foreign Language School. Students at Landon School have opportunities to host Chinese students from these schools in their homes, meet and work with Chinese exchange teachers, and attend school with them on a daily basis for three weeks every year.
  29. 29. It is through this kind of person-to-person contact that students get to know Chinese culture and Chinese people first hand. Many host brothers and sisters have kept in touch with each other to this day .The deep friendship that was forged during one home stay has created a lasting monument to peace. Since only a small fraction of students are in a position to host Chinese students in their homes, it behooves educators to develop other means to provide students with opportunities for contact with Chinese people and culture.
  30. 30. Landon School has included the following activities as part of its Chinese/American exchange program: annual Chinese New Year assembly, alumni guest speakers who use their Chinese language skills in their Chinese-related professions, and Chinese Club activities (such as field trips to Chinatown, Chinese Community Centers, Freer and Sackler Asian Collections at the Smithsonian Museums and East Asian Collection at the Library of Congress; martial art demonstrations and classes; dinner at Chinese restaurants with parents and students; concerts and performances given by Chinese artists and musicians; cooking classes and calligraphy classes; etc.)
  31. 31. I personally have also encouraged students to tutor new Chinese immigrant children at the Chinese community center in Washington D.C. as a part of their community service project or to provide translation services and other services to the residents in Washington D.C.'s Chinatown. Chinese class projects include conducting interviews of musicians from China and publishing their information in a local Chinese language newspaper. Landon School also hosts the China Roundtable of Washington, a series of Sunday luncheon seminars that attract Chinese students, American students, and specialists living in the greater D.C. metropolitan area.
  32. 32. A wide range of issues is discussed and debated in these student-led seminars, including environmental protection, student visas, educational systems, the US-China trade deficit, intellectual property, US-China relations, the development of western China, Beijing Olympic Games, Chinese Contemporary Art and much more. The Roundtable usually invites both American and Chinese experts and scholars to be guest speakers.
  33. 33. In our program design, we need to help high school students engage more in the local realities through individual placement home stay and equip them with training and strategies so that they gain linguistic proficiency and intercultural competence through “observation, participation and introspective reflection.” (Celeste Kinginger, Discover Language Abroad: A Guide to Language during Study Abroad for Teacher.)