「兒時記趣」朗讀 (Childhood Story)

兒時記趣 (Childhood story) is a famous piece of writing by an author (沈復) of the Ching Dynasty and is often taught in the Chinese Language Art textbook in junior high school.  It is an example of classical Chinese.  I had never heard of it before, as I left Taiwan after fifth grade.  Nevertheless, since it is on the 7th grade first semester CLA textbook we received as a hand-me-down from a relative in Taiwan, I thought it would be good for DD#2 to study a couple of short passages such as this.

「兒時記趣」

作者:沈復 (1763-1825)

余憶童稚時,能張目對日,明察秋毫。見藐小微物,必細察其紋理,故時有物外之趣。

夏蚊成雷,私擬作群鶴舞空,心之所向,則或千或百,果然鶴也;昂首觀之,項為之強。又留蚊於素帳中,徐噴以煙,使之沖煙飛鳴,作青雲白鶴觀;果如鶴唳雲端,為之怡然稱快。

又常於土牆凹凸處、花臺小草叢雜處,蹲其身,使與臺齊;定神細視,以叢草為林,蟲蟻為獸;以土礫凸者為丘,凹者為壑,神遊其中,怡然自得。

一日,見二蟲鬥草間,觀之,興正濃,忽有龐然大物,拔山倒樹而來,蓋一癩蝦蟆也。舌一吐而二蟲盡為所吞。余年幼,方出神,不覺呀然驚恐。神定,捉蝦蟆,鞭數十,驅之別院。

 

Here is DD’s read-aloud:

 

Here is an educational video on it:

 

Supposedly the following last paragraph is omitted and not taught since it is not rated G, more like PG, 🤣.

年長思之,二蟲之鬥,蓋圖奸不從也,古語云:「奸近殺。」 蟲亦然耶?貪此生涯,卵為蚯蚓所哈,腫不能便,捉鴨開口哈之,婢嫗偶釋手,鴨顛其頸作吞噬狀,驚而大哭,傳為語柄。此皆幼時閑情也。

Christmas band performance 12-2019

Our “Tu & Only” band was invited to perform again at Atlanta Chinese Medical Society’s Christmas/New Year celebration this year.  My DDs spent hours honing down their performances and did a fantastic job last night!  They each received an outstanding volunteering award for all the hard work they put into supporting the nonprofit organization.

我們的「杜ㄧ無二」樂團再次受邀在亞特蘭大華人醫師協會今年的聖誕新年晚會表演。兩位女兒練習良久,昨晚表現很好,對她們的中文也都有幫助,以她們為榮!我們表演了周杰倫2007年的「不能說的秘密」和李克勤1992年的廣東話經典歌曲「紅日」(小女兒不會說廣東話,發音不標準,請見諒~)

Easy instant annotation tool from Mandarinspot.com

It has been a while since I used Mandarinspot.com, a clever site someone coded a few years back.  Mandarinspot.com provides an easy to use tool to annotate online Chinese text with 注音 or 拼音 and English definition. Pop-up annotation tooltips open when you move mouse over the word.

For example, my DDs are working on a Chinese debate on the topic of mandatory vaccination.  There is a Chinese Wikipedia page on vaccine hesitancy.  So, I copy and paste the link under “Web site annotation” as below.

 

Enlarged:

After clicking “Annotate”, it leads me to a Mandarin Spot version of this webpage.  If I don’t know the pronunciation or meaning of certain Chinese characters or words, hovering the mouse over the word will bring up a box with the Chinese pronunciation (注音 in this case) and English meaning.  Pretty nifty, no?

You can do the same with pinyin.  Just change the phonetic system above to pinyin.

 

Reflection on 7th grade Chinese Language Art textbook

7th grade CLA textbook
First semester, chapter 5
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My DD#2 is working on chapter 5 this week.  There are a couple of words that I can’t pronounce either, having gone through 5th grade in Taiwan 30+ years ago.  So, we learn together.
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I was able to read 金庸 novels and newspaper just fine by my mid teens, without additional lessons in Chinese, which is likely a typical experience for youth immigrants who had received ~ 4th grade education in Taiwan/China and kept on reading afterwards.
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Looking at my DD reading aloud this chapter, I am like, yeah, they will be just fine with their Chinese.  What a relief!
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We can work on her Spanish more now…. 🤣。 It happens I also grew up in a Spanish speaking country, in my teens.
心囚

杏林子

在許多人眼裡,我看來多麼像是一個囚犯,一個被病禁錮○1在床的犯人。
是的,自從小學六年級時,我被一種叫做「類風溼關節炎」的怪病纏身之後,就逐漸失去活動的自由。年復一年,我全身的關節都受到病魔的「轄制○2」,有如戴上一道道無形的鐐銬○3。
腿不能行,肩不能舉,手不能彎,頭也不能自由轉動。甚至,我連吃一口心愛的牛肉乾的權利也被剝奪了,因為咬不動。
二十多年來,生活的天地僅限於六席○4大的斗室○5之中,屋外春去秋來,花開花謝,似乎都與我無干○6了。就像一個被判無期徒刑的犯人,不知何年何月才能重見「天日」。
想像中,這樣的「犯人」一定是蒼白憔悴○7、鬱鬱寡歡○8的吧!剛剛相反,因為我了解真正能夠囚住我的,不是身體上的疾病,而是心理上失望、悲觀、頹喪○9、憤怒、憂慮,築成了一面看不見的網,隨時準備將我陷在中間。一個人只要能突破心靈的枷鎖○10,這個世界就再也沒有什麼能困住他的了。如今,我活得無憂無慮,也自由自在。而世上多的是身體健康,卻心理不健全的人;多的是表面歡樂,卻心中痛苦的人;多的是行動自如,卻找不到一條正確人生方向的人。
有些人看似生活得繁華熱鬧,卻往往是天底下最寂寞的人,因為他們把自己的心封閉了。
還有那些沉溺○11在罪惡中無法自拔,迷戀在情慾中無法脫身,以及為名利權勢所左右○12迷失了自己的人,他們看似自由,卻心陷囹圄○13。
比起我,到底誰更像是囚犯呢?

注釋
○1禁錮:囚禁。錮,音ㄍㄨˋ,封閉、監禁。
○2轄制:管轄限制。轄,音ㄒㄧㄚˊ,管制。
○3鐐銬:音ㄌㄧㄠˊ ㄎㄠˋ,刑具。鐐,鎖住腳的刑具。銬,鎖住手的刑具。
○4席:通「蓆」,三尺寬、六尺長為一蓆。
○5斗室:狹小的房間。
○6無干:沒有關係。干,關聯。
○7憔悴:音ㄑㄧㄠˊ ㄘㄨㄟˋ,面色黃瘦,沒有精神的樣子。
○8鬱鬱寡歡:悶悶不樂。寡,少。
○9頹喪:情緒消沉低落。頹,音ㄊㄨㄟˊ。
○10枷鎖:原指刑具,引申為束縛。枷,套在脖子上的刑具。鎖,拴在犯人身上的鎖鏈。
○11沉溺:指陷於不好的嗜好或境地中。溺,音ㄋㄧˋ。
○12左右:影響、控制。
○13囹圄:音ㄌㄧㄥˊ ㄩˇ,牢獄。

7th grade Chinese Language Art

DD#2, 13, 8th grade now, is moving unto 7th grade Chinese Language Art textbook from Taiwan.  Her Chinese lessons now mainly consist of reading aloud to fluency Chinese Language Art textbooks and doing Chinese debate, besides watching 「如懿傳」(Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace).  This movie series sits nicely between the two series she previously watched,「後宮甄嬛傳」and 「延熙攻略」.

Here is the first chapter she is working on, which is chapter 2 of 康軒’s 7th grade second semester textbook.  I previously couldn’t acquire the first semester book.

下雨天,真好(琦君)

一大清早,掀開窗簾看看,窗上已撒滿了水珠。啊,好極了!又是個下雨天。雨連下十天,半月,甚至一個月,屋裡掛滿萬國旗似的溼衣服,牆壁地板都冒著溼氣,我也 不抱怨。雨天總是把我帶到另一個處所,在那兒,我又可以重享歡樂的童年。那些有趣的好時光啊,我要用雨珠的鍊子把它串起來,繞在手腕上。

那時在浙江永嘉老家,我才六歲,睡在母親暖和的手臂彎裡。天亮了,聽到瓦背上嘩嘩的雨聲,我就放了心。因為下雨天長工不下田,母親不用老早起來做飯,可以在 熱被窩裡多躺會兒。我捨不得再睡,也不讓母親睡,吵著要她講故事。母親閉著眼睛,給我講雨天的故事。在熹微的晨光中,我望著母親的臉,她的額角方方正正, 眉毛細細長長,眼睛瞇成一條線。我的啟蒙老師說菩薩慈眉善目,母親的長相一定就跟菩薩一樣。

雨下得越來越大。母親一起床,我也跟著起來,顧不得吃早飯,就套上叔叔的舊皮靴,頂著雨在院子裡玩。溝裡水滿了,白繡球花瓣落在爛泥地和水溝裡。我把阿榮伯 給我雕的小木船漂在水溝裡,中間坐著母親給我縫的大紅「布姑娘」。繡球花瓣繞著小木船打轉,一起向前流。我跟著小木船在爛泥地裡踩水,吱嗒吱嗒的響。

天下雨,長工們不下田,都蹲在大穀倉後面玩。我把小花猫抱在懷裡,自己再坐在阿榮伯懷裡,等著阿榮伯把一粒粒又香又脆的炒豆子剝殼送到我嘴裡。豆子吃夠了再吃芝麻糖,嘴巴乾了吃橘子。下雨天真好,有吃有玩,長工們個個疼我,家裡人多,我就不寂寞了。

五月黃梅天,到處黏糊糊的,母親走進走出的抱怨,父親卻端者宜興茶壺,坐在廊下賞雨。院子裡各種花木,經雨一淋,新綠的枝子頑皮的張開翅膀,托著嬌豔的花 朵,父親用旱煙袋點著它們告訴我這是丁香花,那是一丈紅。大理花與劍蘭搶著開,木樨花散布著淡淡的幽香。牆邊那株高大的玉蘭花開了滿樹,下雨天謝得快,我得趕緊爬上去採,採了滿籃子送左右鄰居。玉蘭樹葉上的水珠都是香的。

唱鼓兒詞的總在下雨天從我家後門摸索進來,坐在廚房的長凳上,唱一段「鄭元和學丐」。母親一邊做飯,一邊聽。淚水掛滿了臉頰,拉起青布圍裙擦一下,又連忙盛 一大碗滿滿的白米飯,請瞎子先生吃,再給他一大包的米。晚上就在大廳裡唱,請左鄰右舍都來聽。寬敝的大廳正中央燃起了亮晃晃的燈,燈一亮,我就有做喜事的 感覺,心裡說不出的開心。雨嘩嘩的越下越大,瞎子先生的鼓咚咚咚咚的也敲得越起勁。母親和五叔婆聽了眼圈兒都哭得紅紅的,我就只顧吃炒米糕、花生糖。父親卻悄悄的溜進書房作他的「唐詩」去了。

如果我一直不長大,就可以永遠沉浸在雨的歡樂中。然而誰能不長大呢?到杭州念中學了,下雨天,我有一股淒涼寂寞之感。

有一次,在雨中徘徊西子湖畔。我駐足凝望著碧藍如玉的湖水和低斜低斜的梅花,卻聽得放鶴亭中響起了悠揚的笛聲。那是許多年前的事了,笛聲低沉而遙遠,然而我卻仍能依稀聽見,在雨中…。

Introduction to the work of Professor Stephen Krashen

“Stephen Krashen (born 1941) is professor emeritus at the University of Southern California,[1] who moved from the linguistics department to the faculty of the School of Education in 1994. He is a linguist, educational researcher, and political activist.” – Wikipedia

Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition by Stephen Krashen

“The acquisition–learning hypothesis claims that there is a strict separation between acquisition and learning; Krashen saw acquisition as a purely subconscious process and learning as a conscious process, and claimed that improvement in language ability was only dependent upon acquisition and never on learning……..Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language, during which the acquirer is focused on meaning rather than form.” – Wikipedia     (CLE = subconscious acquisition + meaningful.  Weekend Chinese class = conscious process.  Based on a cursory review, this is where I may differ with the professor, as far as Chinese is concerned.  Using his term, I think acquisition and learning are complementary, due to the high opportunity cost and resource commitment required.)

“Furthermore, Krashen claimed that linguistic competence is only advanced when language is subconsciously acquired, and that conscious learning cannot be used as a source of spontaneous language production. Finally, learning is seen to be heavily dependent on the mood of the learner, with learning being impaired if the learner is under stress or does not want to learn the language.” – Wikipedia  (CLE =subconscious.  Weekend Chinese class = stress + does not want to learn)

“The monitor hypothesis states that consciously learned language can only be used to monitor language output; it can never be the source of spontaneous speech.” – Wikipedia  (Weekend Chinese class = consciously learned language => not the source of spontaneous speech)

“The affective filter hypothesis. This states that learners’ ability to acquire language is constrained if they are experiencing negative emotions such as fear or embarrassment. At such times the affective filter is said to be “up”.” – Wikipedia (Parents speaking Chinese with children in the public  [granted there may be some scenario that this is not wise].  Also, we parents can readily admit that there are things that we don’t know how to say but we can look it up and learn together => less fear or embarrassment)

“Krashen promotes the use of free voluntary reading during second-language acquisition, which he says “is the most powerful tool we have in language education, first and second………Proponents such as Stephen Krashen (1989) claim that reading alone will increase encounters with unknown words, bringing learning opportunities by inferencing. The learner’s encounters with unknown words in specific contexts will allow the learner to infer and thus learn those words’ meanings. While the mechanism is commonly accepted as true, its importance in language learning is disputed. “- Wikipedia.  (This is where  access to and reading of extensive Chinese books come in, of course.)

“Free voluntary reading (FVR) is the reading of any book (newspaper, magazine or comic) that students have chosen for themselves and is not subject to follow-up work such as comprehension questions or a summary.” – An introduction to the work of Stephen Krashen.     (I rarely ask the girls on the details of their reading.  As long as they read, it’s good.)

“In language learning, extensive reading is contrasted with intensive reading, which is slow, careful reading of a small amount of difficult text – it is when one is “focused on the language rather than the text”.   Extensive and intensive reading are two approaches to language learning and instruction, and may be used concurrently; intensive reading is, however, the more common approach, and often the only one used.  Extensive reading has been used and advocated in language learning since at least the 19th century.  In the first language, many connections have been made between reading and vocabulary size, as well as other academic skills.” – Wikipedia.  (For me, intensive reading comes in two major flavors.  The first one is the usual language instruction based on textbooks or the likes.  The second one is the read-aloud exercises of an appropriately leveled reading material – probably the most efficient way of increasing colloquial fluency in my pointed of view.  In my point of view, intensive reading and extensive reading are complementary, and, when combined with CLE, is the best long-term method to learn Chinese (or other difficult to learn languages), when the requirement of time, resources, and opportunity cost is high.  Interestingly enough, to a certain extent, Karaoke singing can provide CLE, read-aloud intensive reading, and voluntary-extensive reading, all concurrently!)

In conclusion….

To sum it up, I think I have done the many things that Professor Krashen promotes based on his research, by providing CLE and free voluntary reading.  Where he and I may differ is that I think acquisition and learning (his terminology) are complimentary, to provide long-term, effective, and efficient improvement in Chinese proficiency.  CLE makes long term possible, providing the psychological backdrop for the child, which promotes effectiveness.  Due to its high resource/time demand and opportunity cost, we need efficiency as well.  That’s where intensive reading and active learning comes in.  For me, the particular instruction curriculum and the actual instruction/active learning is the easy part.  Providing the CLE is the tough part.  Where Chinese weekend schools fail for most is not only for the lack of rigor, but that active learning is only part of the picture and can not provide the long term needs, which is required to sustain such learning.  Where Chinese immersion school is far less than optimal for most is that it provides only ~ 15-20% of students’ year-round waking hours as their CLE, which is a far cry from the amount of CLE required for difficult to learn languages such as Chinese, in the greater Anglophone environment.

Maintaining Heritage Language: Perspectives of Korean Parents

I stumbled on a 2011 paper on maintaining Korean heritage Language from the perspective of Korean parents.  There is little here that I don’t know already, but I see that both ethnic Korean and Chinese parents share the same struggle.

https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ986889.pdf

“Perhaps more importantly, none of the students felt that Korean HL schools had made a difference in their HL maintenance. Based on what both the parents and students stated, it is fair to say that parents could not do the job of policing HL with their children, since the children were increasingly resistant to speaking and learning Korean.

Korean HL schools were therefore an easy alternative that the parents could count on in spite of the fact that their children hated those schools. While the parents might have agreed that the Korean HL schools were not effective, to stop sending their children would have been an admission of failure in HL maintenance. For these parents, the HL schools were a solution to the dilemma they faced, and the burden of teaching and monitoring Korean was turned over to those institutions…….

This remark strongly suggests that the parents themselves gradually reduced the use of HL and switched to English, perhaps because they felt that they were in fact capable of speaking in English. This might be the key reason why the student participants’ younger siblings’ seldom spoke Korean. The interviews revealed that in the cases of Derek, Gene, and Nina’s younger siblings, the use of Korean ranged from dismal to none.

It can be argued that the student participants in this study maintained HL not because of their parents’ determination or choice, but because of a lack of English proficiency at the beginning of their immigrated life. Of interest in Nina’s statement above is that there was not a time when Korean was used 100% of the time at home. This may be the reason why HL parents chose to send their children to Sunday HL schools, since they might well have felt that they could not maintain the HL at home, definitely feeling that they needed outside help. For these reasons Korean HL schools remain as one of the most popular choices for HL parents. “

第五屆亞洲盃 美國東南區亞特蘭大聯隊 資格賽 (Qualifier debate for SE US Atlanta Team)

It was an incredible journey for the Southeast US Atlanta Team.  Our team members have various Chinese proficiency levels.  Truly, one’s language proficiency (or lack of) affects the ability to listen, comprehend, organize, and express various parts of the debate.  Shawn Yen, our excellent and most devoted coach, was able to utilize the best qualities of each debater and put each in the best line-up position.  The team went through so much in the last few months and we are ecstatic over their accomplishment (one win, one tie, one loss). In addition, my DD#1 was voted as the Best Debater for our second debate and our second chair debater was voted as the Best Debater for the first debate. Go Team USA!

 

Modern Mandarin Chinese

Did you know that the pronunciation of 普通話, Putonghua or the modern standard Mandarin Chinese, dates back only about 400 years?

From 中国华文教育馆 (PRC’s Oversea Chinese Language and Cultural Education Online), the Manchurian people, after establishing the Ching Dynasty and succeeding the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century, had to learn one of the northern Han dialects for ease of communication.  However, they couldn’t learn it well and eventually developed a “Manchudized” version, which eventually turn into the pronunciation we know today.

“与南京官话保留了中原古音不同,王照提倡的北京官话受北方游牧民族特别是满族的影响很大。满洲入关以后,满语完全不能适应新的生活需要,不得不学习和借鉴汉语。但是,满族人不能区分尖团音,也不会发入声,因此,满洲贵族所说的北京官话是满族化了的汉语,也被戏称为“五音不全”的汉话。”

From 百度

“南北朝时期开始,中原雅音南移,作为中国官方语言的官雅言逐渐分为南北两支。六朝即南京话为汉语标准语,明朝永乐年间建都北京时从南京北调40万人口,超过北平原有人口。清入主中国,旧北平话逐渐演变形成了北京话。清雍正六年设“正音书馆”,以北京官话为标准语,在全国推行,以后北京官话逐渐取代南京官话成为中国官场主流的标准语,有人也称之为北方官话,和被称为南方官话的南京官话相对应。清末进行国语编审,民国初年拟定国音,“京国之争”以后实行以北京官话为基础的新国音,自此以北方官话为蓝本的国语(普通话)成为中国官方标准语言。随著现代教育、传媒的普及发达,当代的北京官话 – 普通话,在华语圈有向各种方言渗透的趋势。”

Therefore, the venerated Tang poems dating back to the 7-10th century and classics before Ching Dynasty were not written with such pronunciation in mind.

 

Below are a couple of interesting video clips: