Chinese debate class update

So the Chinese debate class is moving along, now to the meat of proper debate rules.

Asia Debate will announce the debate topics toward the end of May.  Our team will get to know their assigned topics then.  At the mean time, the coach gave reading-aloud assignment from United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to build up their Chinese vocabulary and familiarize themselves with UN topics.  The website has simplified Chinese version, which I then copied and converted to traditional Chinese for my girls.  For their initial readings, I changed the font to one with zhuyin to make it easier for them, though alternative pronunciation would not be accounted for.  I sometimes find the translation less than optimal.

Here is what they have to read for Goal 4 on Quality Education:

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.  目標4:確保包容和公平的優質教育,讓全民終身享有學習機會

Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to creating sustainable development. In addition to improving quality of life, access to inclusive education can help equip locals with the tools required to develop innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems. 

獲得高質量的教育是改善人民生活和實現可持續發展的基礎。除了提高生活質量之外,獲得包容性教育還有助於本地人掌握開發創新型解決方案所必需的工具,以解決世界上最棘手的問題。

Over 265 million children are currently out of school and 22% of them are of primary school age. Additionally, even the children who are attending schools are lacking basic skills in reading and math. In the past decade, major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrollment rates in schools particularly for women and girls. Basic literacy skills have improved tremendously, yet bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals. For example, the world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys, but few countries have achieved that target at all levels of education.

目前,超過2.65億兒童失學,其中22%為小學適齡兒童。此外,上學的兒童也缺乏基本的閱讀和數學技能。過去十年間,在增加各級教育機會、提高入學率,尤其是婦女和女童的入學率方面取得了重大進展。基本的識字技能大有提高,但還需作出更為大膽的努力,在實現普及教育的目標方面取得更大進展。比如,世界在初級教育階段已經實現了男女平等,但在所有教育階段都實現這個目標的國家並不多。

The reasons for lack of quality education are due to lack of adequately trained teachers, poor conditions of schools and equity issues related to opportunities provided to rural children. For quality education to be provided to the children of impoverished families, investment is needed in educational scholarships, teacher training workshops, school building and improvement of water and electricity access to schools.

缺乏優質教育的原因在於缺乏訓練有素的教師、學校條件不佳以及農村兒童機會公平問題。為了給貧困家庭的兒童提供優質教育,需要在教育獎學金、師資培訓、學校建設和改善學校飲用水及電力設施方面進行投資。

 

Facts and Figures 事實與數據

  • Enrollment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent but 57 million primary age children remain out of school.  發展中國家的初等教育入學率達到了91%,但仍有5700萬兒童失學。
  • More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa.  未入學的兒童中,超過半數生活在撒哈拉以南非洲。
  • An estimated 50 per cent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.  據估計,50%的小學適齡失學兒童生活在受衝突影響的地區。
  • 617 million youth worldwide lack basic mathematics and literacy skills.  全球有6.17億名青少年缺乏基本的數學和識字技能。

 

Goal 4 targets 目標4的具體目標

4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.  到2030年,確保所有男女童完成免費、公平和優質的中小學教育,並取得相關和有效的學習成果。

4.2 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.  到2030年,確保所有男女童獲得優質幼兒發展、看護和學前教育,為他們接受初級教育做好準備。

4.3 By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.  到2030年,確保所有男女平等獲得負擔得起的優質技術、職業和高等教育,包括大學教育。

4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.  到2030年,大幅增加掌握就業、體面工作和創業所需相關技能,包括技術性和職業性技能的青年和成年人數。

4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.  到2030年,消除教育中的性別差距,確保殘疾人、土著居民和處境脆弱兒童等弱勢群體平等獲得各級教育和職業培訓。

4.6 By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.  到2030年,確保所有青年和大部分成年男女具有識字和計算能力。

4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.  到2030年,確保所有進行學習的人都掌握可持續發展所需的知識和技能,具體做法包括開展可持續發展、可持續生活方式、人權和性別平等方面的教育、弘揚和平和非暴力文化、提升全球公民意識,以及肯定文化多樣性和文化對可持續發展的貢獻。

4.A Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.  建立和改善兼顧兒童、殘疾和性別平等的教育設施,為所有人提供安全、非暴力、包容和有效的學習環境。

4.B By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries.  到2020年,在全球範圍內大幅增加發達國家和部分發展中國家為發展中國家,特別是最不發達國家、小島嶼發展中國家和非洲國家提供的高等教育獎學金數量,包括職業培訓和信息通信技術、技術、工程、科學項目的獎學金。

4.C By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.  到2030年,大幅增加合格教師人數,具體做法包括在發展中國家,特別是最不發達國家和小島嶼發展中國家開展師資培訓方面的國際合作。

Changing direction – social studies textbook

DD#2, “Georgia”, almost 13 now, is finishing up reading aloud to fluency the first semester Chinese Language Art (CLA) textbook from Taiwan. My original plan was to move onto six grade second semester textbook, which would be the natural progression. But, now that she recently joined the newly organized Chinese debate team, I am changing our plan.

Debate Asia, the organization that runs the Chinese debate competition, frequently uses as debate topics subjects that are of concern to the United Nation. There are, therefore, much use of social studies terminology and language, in Chinese of course.  Regular CLA textbooks would not be efficient in providing such subject languages exposure. 

The following two pictures are from a 7th grade second semester CLA textbook that I prepared for my DDs before. 

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Compare the above with the following images from an 8th grade second semester social studies textbook.

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As you can clearly see, the social studies textbook provides excellent and efficient exposure to relevant Chinese terminology and language.  It is also fitting that these materials overlap with Georgia’s English based social studies course material at school, which makes learning via scaffold reading experience (SRE) possible.

Yes, it is more boring to read these social studies textbook aloud, but I hope she can appreciate the language knowledge soon, when her debate competition gets closer and closer.  We will see how it goes!

(There are videos online which go over much of materials presented in the textbook, but some narrators kind of just read the slide content off the screen, which is boring.  Their pronunciation could be “better” also.)

Chinese Debate Team

Five students, including my two daughters, signed up for the junior team (16 years of age and below) at this point, with several other potential candidates.  They started training last weekend.  The coach is a Chinese-English bilingual debate instructor educated and trained in debate competition in Taiwan throughout his high school and college years.  He coaches secondary school English debate team here in his spare time and got his team to second place in this year’s debate competition at Harvard.

This is the first year that an American team competes in this Chinese debate competition in Asia.  Certainly, with only a couple of months of training till summer competition in Taipei and with obvious disadvantages, the goal this year is to gain exposure and experience with eyes toward the following years.

Below are two YouTube videos showing the teams which competed last year and one of the actual debate in Hong Kong.

Here are a few photos and a video of our team’s first training session.

 

Fewer posts

One reader noted that I don’t blog as much about my DD’s Chinese learning journey these days.  That is absolutely true. There is simply less to blog about these days, as we are mostly in late consolidation to maintenance phase.  For me, most of the work for Chinese learning before they finish high school would have been done toward the end of middle school.

DD#1 “Charlotte”, almost 16, is finishing up 10th grade.  She has already switched track and commit most of her effort and time to academic and extracurricular activities with emphasis on future college application.  She attends a competitive high school and it is harder to stand out these days.  I have her do just a little maintenance type of Chinese reading to keep up her proficiency.  We continue to converse in Chinese at home, though I do have to correct her often as our conversation topics and depth increase further.  We spend maybe 15-20 minutes a day watching a Chinese high school teen soap 「致我们单纯的小美好」or “A Love So Beautiful.  She loves the show but cringes at the awkward teen puppy love interactions, LOL.

Charlotte does attend a Saturday simplified Chinese “AP” class a couple of times a month just to maintain some exposure to AP Chinese topics.  There are only two to three students in the class, one of whom is my DD#2.  That class provides more of an exposure to the Chinese AP topics rather than being a test preparation course.  It is unfortunate that her high school doesn’t have Chinese AP class.  However, since my goal has never been about test taking and has always been about actually knowing and using Chinese as a communication tool, I am not sweating it and would rather that she commits her time to other areas.  For more formal instruction, I recently resumed having her read aloud select piece in CLA textbook about 10-15 minutes a day several days a week, picking up where we left off almost two years ago in 6th grade CLA textbooks.  That’s all the time she can commit to Chinese these days.  But we hope to move onto junior high level textbooks soon.

The good news is that she has just been recruited to join a brand-new southeast regional Chinese debate team that will compete in Taiwan with teams across Asia at the end of the summer.  This is a wonderful opportunity to hone in her Chinese colloquial proficiency, as I have been seeking out extracurricular activities that require much actual Chinese usage.  Since there are few such activities for teens, we often have to come up with our own, such as our band.  To receive coaching in Chinese for debate conducted in Chinese is like a dream-comes-true.  So, hopefully the whole things goes smoothly.

As for my almost 13 years old DD#2 “Georgia”, we continue to do Chinese read aloud exercises 5 days a week as mentioned in recent blog entries.  She is using 6th grade textbook also, moving at a faster pace than “Charlotte” three years back.  She attends the same casual Saturday “AP” Chinese classes every week, which I plan for her to repeat next year to improve her familiarity with simplified Chinese and get really acquainted with the material.  She watches about 30 minutes of Chinese drama 後宮甄嬛傳 with me at night, which she loves.

“Georgia” is also finishing up reading the third book (out of four) of 神雕俠侶 kungfu novel.  I recently printed the remainder of the novel out with zhuyin included, since her comprehension and reading speed do go up with them.  I plan to have her finish reading this novel with zhuyin assistance and then try another 金庸‘s kungfu novel without zhuyin.  She doesn’t particularly enjoy reading Chinese kungfu novel (but loves watching such TV shows) and that’s why it has been taking this long.  Maybe I should have her pick out the next novel herself.

“Georgia” was also recruited to try out the Chinese debate team as well.  She took three semesters of English debate classes before; so, this will be an excellent opportunity for her as well.  In terms of her English, she is doing extra reading comprehension exercises to “close the gap” further.  She is in accelerated ELA class one grade level higher at school, but can still work on her English more.  She is not one of those “brilliant” kids who are two-three years (or more) ahead in multiple subjects.  My best guess is that such “brilliant” kids probably have IQ (in the general sense) of around 150  (~1 in 2,000 people) or higher.

In terms of our band, we performed four times in February and are taking a little break.  We plan to work on one popular Cantonese and one Taiwanese song in the coming months.

Overall, IMHO, how well a child handles Chinese-English bilingual education in the tween to teen years, even with favorable Chinese Language Ecosystem (CLE), depends much on the individual’s general intellect, given high level competition for top college spots these days.  Most children likely need to divert attention away from Chinese learning to participate in the college application rat race.  So, it is ever more important that the majority of a solid Chinese instruction and foundation be laid down by the end of middle school.

翠玉白菜 (Jadeite Cabbage) – expository writing

About 5 weeks out from when DD#2, “Georgia”, started working on a 6th grade Chinese Language Art textbook (first semester) from Taiwan, she is right on track, at a pace of one chapter a week.  She just finished reading to fluency chapter 5.  It is on 翠玉白菜 or Jadeite Cabbage, a piece of jadeite carved into the shape of a Chinese cabbage head with insects on the leaves.  It is a prized piece at the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

This is a tougher piece for her to read aloud, given it is an expository and descriptive writing, with more difficult expressions and wording.  I think she’s got it down pretty good after working on it for about an hour and half, spread over five days or so.

 

第五課  翠玉白菜

玉是一種半透明、具有光澤的美石,中國人極愛玉石的雅致和溫潤,喜歡拿玉來比喻美麗或尊貴,更將玉石巧雕成各式各樣的吉祥造型。

玉器的製作相當費工、費時,玉匠為了充分利用玉料,雕琢時會順應其自然天成的外形或色澤來設計製作,這就是所謂的「量材就質」。故宮博物院典藏的「翠玉白菜」,就是依循這種理念的經典之作,因為奇巧無比,所以成為名聞中外的藝術品。

一般而言,質純的玉石呈白色,有些因為含有不同的金屬元素,會呈現翠綠色或赤色。翠玉白菜就是以一塊半白半綠的玉料雕成,玉匠巧妙利用玉質顏色的變化,將玉石綠色部分,雕出翻捲的菜葉;白色部分,雕出脈絡分明的菜莖,白、綠的漸層變化,渾然天成,有如一顆鮮嫩欲滴,可以掐出水來的白菜。更有趣的是,玉匠巧妙的在葉片上雕了活靈活現的螽斯和蝗蟲,這神來一筆,讓原本靜態寫實的作品,頓時活潑起來,充滿令人驚喜的動態美。

翠玉白菜原是北京紫禁城永和宮中的陳設品,是清末光緒皇帝的妃子——瑾妃的嫁妝。這件嫁妝不但貴重,還隱含著父母對出嫁女兒的祝福:白菜寓意清白,象徵新娘的純潔;螽斯,俗稱「紡織娘」,能高聲鳴唱,而且繁殖力很強,用來祝福新娘多子多孫。

遠近馳名的翠玉白菜,結合了玉料天然的美和玉匠精湛的雕工,除了令人賞心悅目,還有一層寓意傳情的物外之趣,堪稱為玉器中的珍品,也讓所有慕名前來參觀的人,留下深刻的印象。

 

第五课  翠玉白菜

玉是一种半透明、具有光泽的美石,中国人极爱玉石的雅致和温润,喜欢拿玉来比喻美丽或尊贵,更将玉石巧雕成各式各样的吉祥造型。

玉器的制作相当费工、费时,玉匠为了充分利用玉料,雕琢时会顺应其自然天成的外形或色泽来设计制作,这就是所谓的「量材就质」。故宫博物院典藏的「翠玉白菜」,就是依循这种理念的经典之作,因为奇巧无比,所以成为名闻中外的艺术品。

一般而言,质纯的玉石呈白色,有些因为含有不同的金属元素,会呈现翠绿色或赤色。翠玉白菜就是以一块半白半绿的玉料雕成,玉匠巧妙利用玉质颜色的变化,将玉石绿色部分,雕出翻卷的菜叶;白色部分,雕出脉络分明的菜茎,白、绿的渐层变化,浑然天成,有如一颗鲜嫩欲滴,可以掐出水来的白菜。更有趣的是,玉匠巧妙的在叶片上雕了活灵活现的螽斯和蝗虫,这神来一笔,让原本静态写实的作品,顿时活泼起来,充满令人惊喜的动态美。

翠玉白菜原是北京紫禁城永和宫中的陈设品,是清末光绪皇帝的妃子——瑾妃的嫁妆。这件嫁妆不但贵重,还隐含着父母对出嫁女儿的祝福:白菜寓意清白,象征新娘的纯洁;螽斯,俗称「纺织娘」,能高声鸣唱,而且繁殖力很强,用来祝福新娘多子多孙。

远近驰名的翠玉白菜,结合了玉料天然的美和玉匠精湛的雕工,除了令人赏心悦目,还有一层寓意传情的物外之趣,堪称为玉器中的珍品,也让所有慕名前来参观的人,留下深刻的印象。

Six grade textbook

Sixth grade Chinese Language Art textbook from Taiwan is indeed a step tougher than that of fifth grade.  It takes DD#2 a bit longer to read till fluency.

第三課 大自然的規則

山在晨曦照耀下開始甦醒,發出劈啪的聲響,並且朝天空吐出一縷一縷的蒸氣。當陽光解除了樹林死氣沉沉的冰封盔甲時,山還「ㄆㄥㄆㄥ」低語了幾聲。外公一直注意著這一切,我也一樣。我們還留神傾聽在林間呢喃的晨間微風,以及各式各樣的聲響。
「山逐漸的活起來了!」外公輕聲說,眼睛仍專注的望著山。
「沒錯!」我回應外公說:「她復活了。」突然間,我發現我和外公同樣擁有的這種感覺,卻是大部分人從未經歷過的。
夜晚的陰影一直向後退,只剩下山腳下草地對面的一塊陰暗角落;沐浴在陽光下的青翠草地,閃著光芒。外公指著草地上一邊撲打著翅膀,一邊忙著尋找食物的鵪鶉要我看。接著他把手指向清冷的藍天。
天空潔淨得沒有一片雲。一開始,我並沒有看見外公指的那個在地平線上移動的小黑點。黑點愈來愈大,直朝著陽光飛來,這樣牠的影子就不會比牠先落在地面上。只見那隻鳥加速直往山邊俯衝下來,飛快掠過尖尖的樹頂,兩隻翅膀向後伸展,就像一顆褐色的子彈筆直的射向鵪鶉。
外公低聲笑說:「那是老鷹泰坎!」
鵪鶉們突然起了一陣騷動,紛紛朝林間倉皇奔逃,有一隻腳步稍慢了些。老鷹發動攻擊了,只見牠的頭快速起落,如雨點般死命的啄擊這一隻鵪鶉,一瞬間,撲擊便結束了,鵪鶉羽毛在空中四處飛散。老鷹用雙爪抓起牠的獵物,朝著原來的方向,越過山頭揚長而去。
我沒有哭,但我知道我的樣子很沮喪。外公對我說:「別傷心,小樹,這就是大自然的規則。」
外公拿著刀子,從地裡掘出一段甜菜根,把皮削掉,切成兩半。他把大的一半遞給我,甜菜根飽含著用來過冬的汁液,順著刀身流下來。
「這就是大自然的規則。」外公輕輕的說。

新春演出 CNY performance 2-2019

Our family band “Tu & Only” (杜ㄧ無二)performed three times this month for various Chinese New Year festivities.  To get a glimpse of my DD’s (12 and 15) current colloquial fluency and accent, at least on a scripted level, you can listen to their introductory remarks at the beginning of the first video.  They do speak Chinese at home with each other about 80% of the time, at least when I am around.  When they say things incorrectly in Chinese or don’t know how to say certain things in Chinese, I do my best to correct them and then ask them to repeat it a few times.  Since I left Taiwan after fifth grade, not infrequently do I have to look up things I don’t know how to express in Chinese as well.  We then learn to say it together.  These are normal part of our lives and the girls don’t get mad at me for doing so.

I learned to play the bass guitar (very badly though) a year ago so that I can play along with the girls.  Then, I got busy at work and haven’t practiced much.   A few months ago, I decided to learn to play the drum (also very badly….) and let DD#2 play some of the bass.  I learn just enough to get by.

We performed four songs at a Chinese New Year celebration in Atlanta this past Sunday.  There was a crowd of probably 250-300 people with standing room only.  Here is their introductory remark and first song, 朋友 (Friends) by 周華健.  (I missed a few notes.  Sigh…..)

 

The next video is DD#2 singing 楊培安‘s 「我相信」 (I Believe).

 

Our third song was better recorded from an evening church performance the day before.  It is 流星, the Chinese version of “Yellow” by Coldplay, one of the theme songs in the movie “Crazy Rich Asian” last summer.

 

The last song is the classic CNY song 恭喜恭喜 by 陳歌辛.  You can listen to their closing remarks at the end of the video.

 

Our band is getting better with each performance over the past year, though we still need to squeeze in vocal lessons in the future.  A major local Chinese school troupe just asked us to collaborate with them in the future!  Not bad for the end of our first year!  Our family band has certainly brought the family even closer and has given us more things to talk about, in Chinese of course!

Happy Chinese New Year!!