暑期朗讀和討論 (Summer read-aloud and discussion)

A new friend we got acquainted with in Atlanta kindly agreed to be the girls’ summer Chinese reading and discussion guide/tutor.  She is quite an educated lady with decades of life experiences and seems to enjoy spending such time with my girls.

In an hour and half, “Charlotte”, who is 15 now, read aloud the following two articles which was recently sent to me online by my family for my own reading.  I figure that articles covering contemporary social issues would serve as great readers for Charlotte and she can learn a ton.  I do print out the article with zhuyin 注音 added in, to facilitate her reading.  I ask that they have a little discussion on the topic afterwards.

 

雪梨滿街都是補習班…一個台灣媽媽的觀察:亞洲父母用「補習文化」毀掉澳洲教育

9/5/2017

15年前,我到澳洲念大學,求學的過程中強烈感受到不同於台灣的學習方式,上課時發現同學們好像都是有備而來,對於教授提出的問題和丟出的話題都能侃侃而談、大方又有條理的陳述自己的想法,同時也能分析對方的意見。才體認到,「思考」是我這種習慣單方面「接收」知識的典型亞洲學生很欠缺的能力。

十幾年過去了,從自己親身經驗高等教育回歸到牽著孩子們的手進入基本國教。我深切感受到,亞洲父母在無形中改變了澳洲教育形態。這幾年來,雪梨各地補習班如雨後春筍般崛起,且一改往日的低調,四處大肆宣傳招生,補習街逐漸被複製到許多雪梨的街道上!

補習班裡,幾乎清一色都是亞洲臉孔,為了考進資優班、菁英中學、有名大學而拼命,補習時間之長之多,那些聲稱為了「更好的教育制度和環境」而千方百計移民的亞洲父母,似乎毫不察覺這些孩子正過著和在原本社會並無太多不同的生活。在很多區域或特定學校裡,補習變成了常態,不補習還會被嘲笑。以我住的新南威爾斯州來說,每年補習教育的營業額可以達到上億澳幣!
就在不久前,新南威爾斯州政府官員宣布,將計畫更改菁英中學的入學考試方式,因為現今的家長已經普遍認為,要讀菁英學校就非補習不可!而根據「非官方」的統計,菁英學校裡有95%的學生是補習考上的。

澳洲的「菁英中學」稱為selective schools,有點像是台灣的明星學校,如北一女、建中、附中等。不同的是,澳洲是12年義務教育,學生不用考試就可以直升家附近的高中,但若想念所謂的菁英學校,則要特別參加「菁英學校聯招」,填志願。說到考試和填志願,大家一定不陌生,不需要我再說下去了…..

根據統計,大部份菁英學校的學生屬於亞裔背景,雪梨的幾間菁英學校,幾乎有90%學生是非英語背景。其他的菁英學校,這樣的學生也占了70~80%。

很多澳洲人不開心,也對補習教育很反感。州政府為了杜絕已經走歪了的補習風氣,宣布計畫更改考試內容及方式,考慮將「一試定終身」的制度改成平均考量考試成績和學生參與課外活動的情況和表現,例如體育、才藝、義工等。

為什麼?

補習讓孩子學得更多、更快、更好、更超前,為什麼我們一直想要仿效的西方教育制度卻不要它?
想拿高分,想學得多學得快,贏在起跑點為整場比賽奠立「贏」的本錢和基礎,哪有壞處?

沒有。

因為問題不在補習,而在「補習之後」呢?

我們夫妻也在澳洲從事教育事業,教學對象是大學生、研究生和成年人,在最前線感受到補習成為常態教育一環對社會形態和素質的衝擊。

我們成長於補習風氣沒那麼盛行的年代,那時補習班設立的目的是針對進度較落後,需要額外幫助的學生。

從前的學生,讀書、畫重點、抄筆記、發覺自己的強項和弱點、找題庫練習、找老師問問題、和同學朋友討論、思辨、腦力激盪…。「思考」,是一貫且仰賴的學習方式。這樣的學習方式和習慣,從小學開始練習,到國中、高中、大學、研究所,一路上不斷磨練精進,務求簡單迅速確實,還要有效率!

出了社會後,工作技巧、待人接物、社會處事的眉眉角角,一樣是按照這個模式學習,只是很多從有書本做依據轉成從生活中擷取經驗。
但是過去十幾年來,學習型態改變了。曾幾何時,學生不再需要自己抓出學習的重點、排出優先順序,也不需要咀嚼思考老師授課的內容,將之轉化成自己能夠吸收的知識。補習班幫你畫好重點、寫好筆記、告訴你這樣考試、那樣答題。

補習,代替了「思考」和「學習」。學生不再認識且了解自己的學習型態和習慣,也沒有機會發展自己的學習模式。

但是一旦進入大學以上的教育,進入社會後呢?

很多學生進了大學之後突然發現,哎呀,老師好爛喔!都隨便教一教,叫我們自己回去讀,然後考試考得都是沒教過的!給他負評!

現在的學生像什麼?

澳洲教授形容得很傳神:「像你要不停拿湯匙把知識餵到他們嘴裡的小嬰孩!」

這些一路依賴補習的學生,沒有自我學習的能力、技巧,也沒有學習的自主性,更可怕的是:沒有學習的意識和熱情!看到這裡,是否有種似曾相識之感?是的,澳洲原本的教育優勢,幾乎被亞洲父母和學生所依賴的補習制度扭曲了!

課堂上總是鴉雀無聲。除了一字一句講給他們聽的以外,學生們不會思考、不會討論、不會思辨,不會做延伸閱讀、不會思考其涵義、不會在學習中發現自己的不足自動自發去找相關資訊了解和研究。

這是一個資訊爆炸的時代,但是這個時代的孩子卻不懂得利用這些垂手可得的資訊!就算用了,也只是複製貼上頂多再按個讚,鮮少動腦想甚至不懂得過濾。無遠弗屆的資訊,反而成了學習和思考的殺手。

更糟的是,經過了那麼多年的被動學習,終於沒有人逼迫他們、沒有人跟在屁股後面打分數、沒有成績單被人品頭論足了,誰還願意學?教他們如何自主學習,卻被說你偷懶不教他,但是一字一句、白紙黑字準備好講義給他們,他們又懶得看!

學校教育在傳授知識、奠立學習模式、訓練思考能力,社會事本來就無法教,一直以來都不是問題,為什麼「學校沒有教的事」在科技發達、生活富足、平均智商升高的現代反而成為熱門問題?

因為這些需要餵食的學生出了社會依然沒有自我覓食的能力,只是再沒有人有責任餵食他們了,他們不再有人可以怪罪了,只好說學校都沒有教!

放眼市面上的暢銷書籍:人際速成、說話速成、陞遷速成、理財速成…另類的社會式補習法出現了,這些社會新鮮人一直買到自己從新人變舊人,依然沒有意識到應該發展自己的學習和思考能力以因應千變萬化的社會。
我們希望孩子贏在起跑點,希望孩子先跑、先準備,不停地把更多的食物塞給孩子,卻忘了沒有人能餵食孩子一輩子。依賴餵食的孩子,沒有自己謀生的能力:擺脫父母逼迫的孩子,沒有鞭策自己學習進步的動機。
過去幾十年來台灣的整體競爭力下降,父母開始擔心無法提供孩子一個良好的就業環境。

大學擠不進百大、人才不願意留下、畢業學生素質不好、專業下降、技職遭到淘汰、產業產能不佳….. 大家都在問:我們的社會出現了什麼問題?

當台灣父母還在問為什麼時,澳洲已經看見危機了,他們發現「補習班」培養出來的菁英,成績和能力並不成正比!而這些「菁英」進入大型企業或政府單位官居要職後,企業和政府的整體績效和表現水平不再能維持以往的標準,所以現在,澳洲不要補習班教育成為常態,不要那些依賴補習考上好學校的人才。

雪梨有些一位難求的私立學校,現在入學面談時問學生的第一個問題就是:「請問你有去補習嗎?」

業界也流傳著不能說的秘密:不要僱用某些「好」學校出來的學生,因為他們很多都是補習出來的,真要做事什麼都不會,也訓練不來,不會思考也不懂變通,連基本的進退應對都不行,標準的很會考試,但是不會做事也不會做人!

父母總是為孩子著想的,當我們總是思考著如何用外力幫助孩子贏在起跑點時,更應該把眼光放遠:沒有這些外來幫助之後,孩子真正剩下傍身的能力是什麼?

這些靠著外來力量跑贏了的孩子,進入職場、到了社會上後誰來幫他?

他們是否真有能力(有心)成為未來的支柱,替國家社會撐起一片天?

當我們抱怨社會競爭力下降、大環境變差了的同時,更該想一想:

明明每個孩子都贏在起跑點了,為什麼,我們的社會還是輸了?

 

「醫師荒」 2022年國衛院:內科缺3527人

6/2/18

過去10年來,形容台灣醫療困境名詞就是「五大皆空」,不外乎工時長、手術風險高、醫療糾紛多甚至是健保給付低,導致沒有年輕醫師有願意投入,不過衛福部研擬對策,在2013年起開始補助五大科住院醫師,一年12萬元津貼,2017年五大科招收率,外科與婦產科、急診醫學科100%,兒科也有96% ,值得注意的是最不理想就是「內科」只有8成招收率,國家衛生研究院推估,2022年面臨醫師荒,光是「內科醫師」不足將達3527人,預期心理之下,內科已經開始拉警報!

玉里慈濟醫院醫師李晉三:「這邊偏鄉真的是需要人,現在年輕人來,他們真的有他們的問題,很難留得住在偏鄉。」

壯麗山景,這是台灣後山花蓮玉里,偏鄉居民遇到大小病症,能主動來醫院是好事,若不能就只能靠他了。

今年70歲,李晉三高雄人,選擇離家來到偏鄉地區,一週至少一到兩次搭乘專車穿梭鄉鎮,幫居民看病。

玉里慈濟醫院醫師李晉三:「心臟不錯啦!不能抽菸,我有聞到菸味。」

山地偏鄉醫療資源很有限,當地居民想看個門診一趟車程到市區至少2小時,部分居民只能在家等待醫師前來。
玉里慈濟醫院醫師李晉三:「年紀大了,沒辦法再這樣做醫療,真的是後繼無人啦!」

玉里慈濟醫院院長張玉麟:「東部地區你要招醫師,都非常非常困難,住院醫師也是一樣,那在玉里等於說是偏鄉的偏鄉。」

一句偏鄉的偏鄉,道盡醫界的困境,現在醫療人員也經常遇到醫療糾紛訴訟 ,甚至是醫療產能不對等諸多問題。

資深醫藥記者蔣志偉:「為了瞭解內、外、婦、兒、急診,對專科醫師人力的影響,國衛院群體健康科學研究所對全台醫師發出3萬380份問卷,頗具規模,製作這本醫師人力調查研究報告,震撼醫界。」國衛院將問卷回收之後,一張張統計。

國衛院評估醫界五大科,2022年面臨醫師荒,光是內科醫師不足將達3527人、外科缺1519人、婦產科未來仍會出現需求大於供給約216人、兒科診所,如果只看20歲以下就醫民眾大約缺87至361人,依照緊急醫療評鑑標準推估,未來急診人力短缺將達到604人。

共同主持人中國醫藥大學張毓宏:「推估出來的資料,我們會發現說,其實台灣的醫療服務的需求上漲非常快,供給的部分可能跟不上。」

國衛院群體健康科學研究所所長熊昭:「現在人口在老化,而且以非常快的速度在老化,所以尤其對內科醫師的需求是非常大的,我們從制度面來講的話,就是說不要讓醫院的醫師一直在減少。」

北榮副院長陳威明:「給這些年輕人(醫師)多鼓勵,那病人跟家屬也要給醫生多鼓勵,現在醫療糾紛的緊張對立,是大家不願意看到的事情,很多人有醫療糾紛,這種醫療糾紛會導致醫師、醫學生投入這個行業,他會有一點畏怯。」

Summer fun! Back to Spanish and more!

Summer is here!  School is out!!  Hurrah!!

Guess what!  The girls will not be making their 4-6 weeks trip to Taiwan this summer, as we just moved last summer and started our new jobs a few months ago.

Instead, it is back to homeschool, with lots of fun added in of course 😀!!  (I can almost hear my DDs cringing in the background! 😂)

DD#1 “Charlotte”, who just finished 9th grade, will have her hands full with online Chinese IV (to get it out of the way for some Spanish), some science and SAT prep, guitar-band, babysitting, and tennis league games.  She is also working on two summer projects, writing and illustrating her own Chinese-English children’s books, and preparing a speech in Chinese on her own bilingual upbringing.  She will be going to a creative writing camp also.

Charlotte loves art and here is her first summer sketch.  She imagines herself to be the fox and her taller friend (a girl) in real life, the smaller owl, touring Italy on a scooter! 😄

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DD#2 “Georgia” (funny, since we moved to the state of Georgia last summer) who just finished 6th grade taking either 7th grade courses or gifted courses, have her hands full also.  We talked about her taking 8th grade math over the summer so that she can just move onto Algrebra I/part of Geometry sequence next year, as she has done some pre-algebra already.  But, what’s the hurry?  According to that sequence in this state, she will finish Calculus B/C in 10th grade and will take two years of college math afterwards.  But, she “only” wants to follow our footsteps and, really, few physicians need that much math background – ever.  I know, since I majored in Chemical Engineering as an undergrad and took much more math than I ever needed later and nobody cared!!!

Instead, Georgia will have a broader summer experience.  Yes, she will do some math, but not as much.  She is jumping back to where we left off five years ago with our Spanish program.  At that time, they read Spanish with our Colombian au pair and later a few South American babysitters.  So, we took out those same books and she is now reading them with their part time summer Colombian “babysitter”.

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Georgia loves to learn more cooking and baking.  So, the “babysitter” is showing her how to cook Colombian and Dominican cuisine and bake as well.  Two days a week, an Indian American college student will come show her how to cook Indian food also, plus checking on their academic progress.

Here is Georgia preparing ingredients under the babysitter’s supervision.  You can see that she loves reading her Doraemon comics still!

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arroz con pollo…..img_0469.jpg

…. and cooking some Chinese food under my supervision when I have the time.img_0460-e1527741038329.jpg

So, this summer, lunch and dinner are on DD#2 Georgia!  Hurrah!  She wants to learn how to cook and we need to eat!  ¡Perfecto!

At the mean time, Georgia will continue her Saturday Chinese classes as well in extra-summer sessions, focusing more on cultural topics, I think.  She continues taking guitar classes and will try out voice lessons as well, for her role as a lead singer in our band!  Then, there are the tennis practices and time for the pool!

At the mean time, both girls will read and discuss Chinese novels and cultural and contemporary topics with a tutor at home twice a week.

Lastly, we try to practice as a band every night.  Here, Charlotte recorded her part for the song we are working on, so that I can practice bass without her.  Can you guess what Chinese song we are working on?  Hint: it is one of 蘇慧倫’s all time hits, a cover of a song by a German band!

So, that’s that for our summer plan, so far!  I hope you are having a blast oversea or in the US!  Travel on!

 

More volunteering and band performance opportunities

So, we continue to provide the girls with opportunities to use their Chinese for volunteering and performances.  Last Saturday, almost 15 year old DD#1 “Charlotte” volunteered as a check-in person for the “Minced Pork Rice” 滷肉飯 cook off near Atlanta.  A good percentage of the folks spoke Chinese checking in.  Charlotte also got to meet many second generation young professionals 10-15 years her senior.  Her co-volunteer here is a Malaysian American professional.  She had so much fun, but too many cups of milk tea!

As for me, I tasted no fewer than nine to ten styles of minced pork rice and I was stuffed!!

 

As for our band, my girls received a gig invite to play at a dinner banquet after a local golf tournament event this past Sunday.  In trying to come up with a Chinese band name, DD#2 “Georgia” proclaimed that we are “獨一無二“, as in unique.  Charlotte and I immediately looked at each other and she shouted out “杜ㄧ無二”, replacing the first character of the expression with our last name, which has the fourth tone instead of the second tone.  So, there you have it, the name of our family band!

For our performance, Charlotte played and sang 周華健‘s 「朋友 」again, as that was the song requested by the organizer.  It is simply a classic song suitable for most gathering.  It was very well received.

Then, Georgia performed Malaysian singer 四葉草’s 「好想你」.  However, this was the biggest sound stage that we have performed in so far and, given our band newbie status without any coach, we weren’t ready for the fact that the sound we heard was reverberated, delayed, and distorted reflections bouncing from the rear wall of the venue.  When we were doing our initial sound set-up, we kept telling the AV guy to turn off the echo effect to no effect.  So, that was what was happening.  So, without stage monitor speakers directed toward Georgia, she couldn’t hear the sound correctly and was singing off tune.  After a few tries, we couldn’t get it right.  So, Charlotte and I performed Ben E King’s “Stand By Me” instead and that went very well.

So, here is the video of our performance, with Georgia’s rehearsal video as the replacement for her part.  All the practices that went into it, including Georgia’s intro, are fantastic in consolidating their Chinese, both in terms of their proficiency and psychic.

 

 

Lastly, summer is coming up!  I have been invited to speak at a southeast regional Taiwanese American summer gathering on, what else, raising English-Chinese bilingual children in the US!  I will be asking members of my FB group to provide me pictures and videos of what they have been able to accomplish to include in the talk!!  Guess what, I am going to let my girls do part of the presentation, ’cause they are the presentation!

華人醫學會年會表演 – 2018

We were invited to perform for the first annual conference of Chinese Medical Association of Atlanta (亞特蘭大華人醫學會), which was first established almost thirty years ago with just a few members. The turn out was great for such an organization and there were a number of good educational talks.  The event lasted the whole day, from 12:30-10PM.

After afternoon’s educational talks, family members joined the physicians in a buffet style dinner.  The evening’s performances started after dinner and there were about 8 performances.

For us, only DD#1 “Charlotte”, almost 15, and I performed this time, as I haven’t had more time to work with DD#2 on her song with my new work schedule.  As I started learning bass guitar only a few months ago, I have had more time to work on it since our Chinese New Year’s performance.  For her first song, Charlotte performed 周華健‘s “朋友“ again, as this is a different crowd.  This time, I have learned enough to play the bass accompaniment for her.  Then, she played Ben E King’s “Stand By Me”.  It is such a simple but beautiful song and the bass accompaniment is pretty cool to play.  Our performance was a hit and we got so many compliments for it.

As before, Charlotte is the only heritage child (well, teen now, besides DD#2) who really spoke and/or sing anything in Chinese.  We typically get such good feed backs from the audiences afterward.  I think seeing her hard earned Chinese proficiency put into such good use again and again this past year reinforces Charlotte’s willingness to continue learning the language and truly accept it as part of her heritage.  Chinese is now part of her skill sets that she can use to socialize, perform and entertain, and reach out to the local Chinese community for volunteering and service opportunities.

做好榜樣 Setting a good example

This post is, for a change, about me!  We moved to Georgia last summer and I was recently invited to give a 30 minutes presentation on chronic kidney disease to the general Chinese speaking public in the area.  All in Chinese, with a few English medical terminologies allowed in between.  As a youth immigrant, I learned everything from middle school and up in English, including everything in medical school and medical residency of course.  To my Chinese-speaking friends, family, and the few Chinese-speaking patients that I have had so far, I can say a few sentences about their medical issues in Chinese with little problem.  But to give a 30 minutes talk in Chinese about a medical subject, well, that’s a completely different ball game.  Besides it being a good community service and promotion for my medical practice, I figure that it would be a good way to let my girls see how knowing Chinese well can be a good way to connect with the local Chinese speaking community, even for youth immigrants like myself.  This talk would also be a good way to force myself to improve my own Chinese.

After getting all my slides done (in Chinese mostly), it took me more than 10 hours just to practice delivering this talk in Chinese.  Like any talks, I have to add in some jokes and interesting things to liven it up a little, in Chinese of course.  I also added a couple of Chinese idioms, proverbs, and a reference to an ancient Chinese medical story.  Public speaking was never my thing and my girls helped out, providing critiques during parts of my practice.  DD#1 “Charlotte” is a natural in public speaking and wrote several PAGES of notes for me.  She even suggested more suitable Chinese words for me to use, can you believe it?!  (She can compose in Chinese better than I can.)  DD#2 “Georgia” was just laughing her heads off, jotting down more than a hundred of my “uh…uh….” in just a few minutes of my initial practice runs!  I was starting to get very annoyed at her, LOL!  Since I had a busy work week, I stayed up till 4AM the day of my talk (Sunday) to practice.  In the morning, I practice two more times and felt fairly confident by the time we left the house.

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I was a little nervous waiting for my turn as I was to deliver the latter of the two talks.  An adult immigrant China and US trained physician delivered the first talk on cancer screening and treatment.  Well, my talk went very well, I am so relieved to say.  No more “uh….uh….”, LOL.  The audience asked many questions and a number of them asked me for my business card afterward.  My wife was very proud of me that I asked her “所以,妳認我是妳的先生了?!“ (So, you would now acknowledge that I am your husband?!)   LOL.  It took me a whole hour afterward just to feel all that stress leave me.

My girls were very proud of me too!  Mission accomplished!

 

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Chinese novel reading update

Well, Chinese reading is going well for both “Charlotte” and “Georgia”, a few months shy of 15 and 12 years of age respectively.

Charlotte just finished reading the Chinese edition of “Anna and the French Kiss” (4.5/5 score on Amazon), giggling intermittently as she read along.  Oh, all those teen romance!  She read some 70 pages this afternoon.  She did feel the need to skim through the English E-edition that she checked out from the online public library to get a better idea of the names and some of the details in the book.  So, her Chinese comprehension is not as precise as her English comprehension; but, that’s not a surprise.  She says reading it in Chinese gives her more room for imagination, LOL!  As long she keeps on reading, studying, and learning Chinese, her reading comprehension will come further along.

     

As for Georgia, she is now reading the first book of 金庸‘s “神雕俠侶“, about 9 months before Charlotte in terms of their age at the time of first time reading.  She needed a little help at the beginning, so I resorted to my good old fashion Scaffold Reading Experience and she read the first chapter with zhuyin assistance.  Now, she has moved back to the regular book.  I do try to sit close by at this point as she asks me questions about her reading from time to time.

So, I am quite excited about both of their progress!  I am certain some of your kids will reach these milestones at a younger age, as some of you utilize Chinese learning programs more rigorous than ours at a younger age.  Yeah, you probably would have considered my girls “slackers” in your household when they were younger, LOL!

六個夢之二 & 「神雕俠侶」(Six Dreams, Part 2 & Return of the Condor Heroes)

DD#2 “Georgia” finished reading the first short story 「追尋」in two days, which has about 14,000 characters.  I asked her whether she understood what “圓房” meant in the story and she said she did.  Good, learning by context, LOL!  (“圓房” means the consummation of a marriage a period of time after the wedding, such as upon maturity of a former child bride.)

I then printed out the second short story 「啞妻」with almost 17,000 characters.  She spent about twenty minutes reading the two halves of the story yesterday and today.  Her comment after reading it was “好可憐喔” which would be “so sad” or “poor thing”.   I asked her whether it would be better to provide her a version of the story with zhuyin (注音)and she said that would not be necessary.  This sounds great to me!  I would say she read this short story at about 400 characters a minute.

I looked over the second short story 「啞妻」, the beginning of which I posted below.  Then, I looked at 金庸‘s 「神雕俠侶」, or “Return of the Condor Hero” by practically the most famous modern kungfu novelist Jin-Yong.  I post the beginning of 「神雕俠侶」below as well.  Certainly, the descriptive parts of 「神雕俠侶」are more difficult to read, but the overall plot and dialogues do not seem much more difficult to read than 「啞妻」.

Recently, Georgia is motivated to read more challenging books since a new Chinese instructor at the weekend school constantly brag (according to my DD) about her own daughter’s Chinese to the students, LOL!  As Georgia will be 12 in a few months and DD#1 “Charlotte” started reading「神雕俠侶」at 12.5 years old, I decided to let Georgia try 「神雕俠侶」.  They both had watched the cartoon +/- TV series of the novel before, which helps with the reading.  Also, Georgia has always been ahead of Charlotte in Chinese at the same age, by about a year.  So, it will be interesting to see how she does.  At this stage, she won’t get the more nuanced descriptive passages (風景,詩意,心境等)but as long as she can understand enough to keep reading, I am good.

So far, Georgia read a few pages of「神雕俠侶」and says she doesn’t need zhuyin.  So, that’s a good start.  (I don’t think she got much of the first page describing the setting and mood of the story but that part is not all that important.)

So, we’ll see how it goes over the next few days!  If it gets difficult, I can always resort to “Scaffold Reading Experience” or SRE to help her get over the bump.

 

第二個夢 啞妻 (Six Dreams – Short Story #2)

民國前二十年左右,北平城里。
這是個庭院很深的大宅子,包括三進房子和三個花園,門口有石獅子守門,黑漆的大門上挂著兩個銅門環,門上方懸著一塊金色的匾——逸廬。這是柳逸云的家。柳逸云是標准的書香世家,也是北平的望族。
在內花園里,正有兩個少婦坐在一棵大槐樹下刺繡,另外兩個丫鬟垂手侍立著。這是一個仲夏的午后,樹上,蟬鳴正喧囂著,除了蟬鳴之外,一切靜悄悄的。兩個丫鬟搖頭晃腦的直打瞌睡。“哦——”突然,少婦中比較年長的一個輕輕的惊呼一聲,挺直了腰,把手放在隆起的腹部上。
“怎樣了?”較年輕的一個緊張的問。
“沒什么,”前者微笑了起來,一种屬于母性驕傲与喜悅混合起來的笑。“我覺得孩子在肚里練太极拳。他踹了我一腳,我几乎可以抓住他的小腳。”她用手在肚子上輕輕的撫摸著。
“噢,表姐,”年輕的一個說:“怎么我肚子里從來不動呢?”她也用手撫摸著肚子。“你還早呢,你只有三個月,是不會動的,等到六、七個月的時候,就會動了。”針線被放在膝上,兩個少婦熱心的談了起來。
“不知道是男孩還是女孩,”年長的一個說:“逸云已經快四十了,我也將近三十,這才是頭一遭怀孕,希望能是個男孩子,如果是女孩,我就要給逸云納妾了。”
“我也希望生個儿子,方家三代單傳,現在,兩個老人家都把希望寄托在我身上,巴不得我一口气給他們生十個八個孩子……”“哈,生孩子又不是下小豬……”
“表姐!”“噢,”前者為自己失言說出的粗話臉紅了。“我們來算個卦,看看是男孩子還是女孩。”
“你一定是男孩子,你的肚子尖尖的。”
“表妹,”年長的一個,也就是柳太太說:“假若我們都生了儿子,我們要讓他們結拜為兄弟……”
“對了,”方太太說:“我們表姐妹這樣好,如果都是女儿,就結為姐妹,如果是一男一女……”
“就結為夫婦。”柳太太接口說。
“一言為定嗎?”方太太問。
“當然!”柳太太嚴肅的說,從手上取下了一個玉環,遞給方太太:“我們先交換信物,以后不許反悔喲!”
“那一個反悔就不得好死!”方太太說,取下了脖子里的一條琥珀項煉,鄭重的交給柳太太。然后,兩個婦人相視而笑,方太太握住了柳太太的手說:“表姐,從此,我們更親一層了。明天我要回家了,下個月你到我家做客去。”“挺著大肚子,怪不好意思的,等滿月以后再去吧。今天我們說的話可得算數喲!”
“你們柳老爺不會反對吧?”
“什么話?當然不會!你們老爺呢?”
“也絕無問題!”兩個女人微笑的對望著,手握著手。兩個孩子的終身就在她們握著的手里決定了。
柳太太生了個男孩子,取名靜言。
方太太生了個女孩子,取名依依。

五年后,在同一棵槐樹底下,兩個女人又聚首了。方太太死命拉著柳太太的衣袖,一把眼淚一把鼻涕的說:
“表姐,你怪我好了,你罵我好了,我一定要悔婚!那怕我應了誓,不得好死,我也要悔婚。我怎么想得到依依生下來是個,是個,是個啞巴!我不能毀掉你們靜言一輩子,表姐,你給他另訂一頭婚事吧!”
“表妹,慢慢來。”柳太太沉痛而嚴肅的說:“假如你們依依是個正常的孩子,我同意你悔婚,現在依依既然是個啞巴孩子,我們柳家絕不悔婚!表妹,你這一生也夠苦了,唯一一個孩子又是殘廢,老爺又三房四房的討姨太太……你想想,依依如果不嫁給靜言,將來難道做一輩子老姑娘?你自己也受一輩子气嗎?我們柳家不是無信無義的,我們姐妹的交情也不止這些,是不是?表妹,我告訴你,靜言除非娶依依,要不然我永不許他娶妻!”“哦,表姐!”方太太喊了一聲,抱住柳太太,失聲痛哭。柳太太安慰的拍著方太太的肩膀,輕輕的說:
“放心吧,表妹,一切都是命中注定,老天自會有安排。”
柳靜言坐在書房里,煩躁的望著面前的書本。革命帶來一個新的世界,也帶來了許多新的思想,但他卻依然要犧牲在舊社會的指腹為婚之下。這是不公平的,但他卻無法反抗。婚期已經擇定了,就等著他去做那個倒楣的新郎。他從沒有見過方依依,或者,在很小的時候,他們曾經一起玩過。反正,他對依依一點印象都沒有,一個啞巴,憑什么他該娶一個啞巴呢?只為了母親那個近乎儿戲的指腹為婚!近來,他看了許多翻譯的西洋文學,他欣賞他們那种赤裸裸的戀愛,沒有媒妁之言,更沒有這种荒謬無比的指腹為婚!他的一些朋友們,都擁有世界上最美好的嬌妻,而他,從一落地起,就被命運判定了要有一個啞巴太太。他真想反叛這個命運,甚至想逃婚。受到新思潮的薰染,柳靜言對于這許多傳統的舊習慣都感不滿,尤其對于中國古老的婚姻法。兩個毫無感情,未謀一面的陌生人,就硬要在一夜之間結成夫妻,這确實是不合情理的!“我要反抗!我要反抗!”他郁憤的想。
書房門被推開了,柳逸云走了進來,看到了父親,柳靜言立即站起身來,垂手而立,恭敬的喊了一聲:
“爸爸!”柳逸云在椅子里坐下來,他是個滿腹詩書,有著頑固的舊腦筋舊思想的老人。在這個家庭里,他有著無比的權威和力量。望了柳靜言一眼,他安靜的說:
“靜言,過來!”柳靜言向前面走了兩步。
“明天起,不必到書房來了,”柳逸云說:“好好准備婚事,你知道,男婚女嫁,這是人生的一件大事,也是做人的義務。”
“是的,爸爸。”柳靜言恭敬的應了一聲。心中卻在忿忿不平。准備婚事,還有什么要他准備的呢?除了做新郎必須自己去做之外,別的事大家早給他做了。他真奇怪,為什么他們不連新郎也代他做呢?
“關于你的這門婚事,”柳逸云沉吟的說:“我知道你心里不大愿意。但是你母親和方家指腹為婚的,當初并沒有料到依依會是個啞巴。我們讀書人,以信義為重,絕不能因對方是個啞巴而退婚,你了解嗎?”

 

神雕俠侶(The Return of the Condor Heroes)

第一回 風月無情


「越女採蓮秋水畔,窄袖輕羅,暗露雙金釧。照影摘花花似面,芳心只共絲爭亂。
雞尺溪頭風浪晚,霧重煙輕,不見來時伴。隱隱歌聲歸桌遠,離愁引著江南岸。」
一陣輕柔婉轉的歌聲,飄在煙水濛濛的湖面上。歌聲發自一艘小船之中,船裡五個少女和歌嘻笑,盪舟採蓮。她們唱的曲子是北宋大詞人歐陽修所作的「蝶戀花」詞,寫的正是越女蓮的情景,雖只寥六十字,但季節、時辰、所在、景物以及越女的容貌、衣著、首飾、心情,無一不描繪得歷歷如見,下半闋更是寫景中有敘事,敘事中挾抒情,自近而遠,余意不盡。歐陽修在江南為官日久,吳山越水,柔情密意,盡皆融入長短句中。宋人不論達官貴人,或是里巷小民,無不以唱詞為樂,是以柳永新詞一出,有井水處皆歌,而江南春岸折柳,秋湖採蓮,隨伴的往往便是歐詞。
時當南宋理宗年間,地處嘉興南湖。節近中秋,荷葉漸殘,蓮肉飽實。這一陣歌聲傳入湖邊一個道姑耳中。她在一排柳樹下悄立已久,晚風拂動她杏黃色道袍的下擺,拂動她頸中所插拂塵的萬縷柔絲,心頭思潮起伏,當真亦是「芳心只共絲爭亂」。只聽得歌聲漸漸遠去,唱的是歐陽修另一首「蝶戀花」詞,一陣風吹來,隱隱送來兩句:「風月無情人暗換,舊遊如夢空腸斷……」歌聲甫歇,便是一陣格格嬌笑。
那道姑一聲長歎,提起左手,瞧著染滿了鮮血的手掌,喃喃自語:「那又有什麼好笑?小妮子只是瞎唱,渾不解詞中相思之苦、惆悵之意。」
在那道姑身後十餘丈處,一個青袍長鬚的老者也是一悄直立不動,只有當「風月無情人暗換,舊遊如夢空腸斷」那兩句傳到之時,發出一聲極輕極輕的歎息。」
小船在碧琉璃般的湖面上滑過,舟中五個少女中三人十五六歲上下,另外兩個都只九歲。兩個幼女是中表之親,表姊姓程,單名一個英字,表妹姓陸,名無雙。兩人相差半歲。
三個年長少女唱著歌兒,將小舟從荷葉叢中蕩將出來。程英道:「表妹你瞧,這位老伯伯還在這兒。」說著伸手指向垂柳下的一人。
那人滿頭亂髮,鬍鬚也是蓬蓬鬆鬆如刺蝟一般,鬚髮油光烏黑,照說年紀不大,可是滿臉皺紋深陷,卻似七八十歲老翁,身穿藍布直綴,頸中掛著個嬰兒所用的錦緞圍涎,圍涎上繡著幅花貓撲蝶圖,已然陳舊破爛。
陸無雙道:「這怪人在這兒坐了老半天啦,怎麼動也不動?」程英道:「別叫怪人,要叫『老伯伯』。你叫他怪人,他要生氣的。」陸無雙笑道:「他還不怪嗎?這麼老了,頭頸裡卻掛了個圍涎。他生了氣,要是鬍子都翹了起來,那才好看呢。」從小舟中拿起一個蓮蓬,往那人頭上擲去。
小舟與那怪客相距數丈,陸無雙年紀雖小,手上勁力竟自不弱,這一擲也是甚準。程英叫了聲:「表妹!」待要阻止,已然不及,只見那蓮蓬逕往怪客臉上飛去。那怪客頭一仰,已咬住蓮蓬,也不伸手去拿,舌頭卷處,咬住蓮蓬便大嚼起來。五個少女見他竟不剝出蓮子,也不怕苦澀,就這麼連瓣連衣的吞吃,互相望了幾眼,忍不格格而笑,一面划船近前,走上岸來。
程英走到那人身邊,拉一拉他衣襟,道:「老伯伯,這樣不好吃的。」從袋裡取出一個蓮蓬,劈開蓮房,剝出十幾顆蓮子,再將蓮子外的青皮撕開,取出蓮子中苦味的芯兒,然後遞在怪客手裡。那怪客嚼了幾口,但覺滋味清香鮮美,與適才所吃的大不相同,裂嘴向程英一笑,點了點頭。程英又剝了幾枚蓮子遞給他。那怪客將蓮子拋入口中,一陣亂嚼,仰天說:「跟我來?」說著大踏步向西便走。
陸無雙一拉程英的手,道:「表姊,咱們跟他去。」三個女伴膽小,忙道:「快回家去罷,別走遠了惹你娘罵。」陸無雙肩肩嘴扮個鬼臉,見那怪客走得甚快,說道:「你不來算啦。」放脫表姊的手,向前追去。程英與表妹一同出來玩耍,不能撇下她自歸,只得跟去。那三個女伴雖比她們大了好幾歲,但個個怕羞膽怯,只叫了幾聲,便見那怪客與程陸二人先後走入了桑樹後。
那怪客走得甚快,見程陸二人腳步小跟隨不上,先還停步等了幾次,到後來不耐煩起來,突然轉身,長臂伸處,一手一個,將兩個女孩兒挾在腋下,飛步而行。二女只聽耳邊風聲颯然,路上的石塊青草不住在眼前移動。陸無雙害怕起來,叫道:「放下我,放下我!」那怪客那裡理她,反而走得更快了。陸無雙仰起頭來,張口往他手掌緣上猛力咬去。那怪客手掌一碰,只把她牙齒撞得隱隱生痛。陸無雙只得鬆開牙齒,一張嘴可不閒著,拚命的大叫大嚷。程英卻是默不作聲。
那怪客又奔一陣,將二人放下地來。當地是個墳場。程英的小臉嚇成慘白,陸無雙卻脹得滿臉通紅。程英道:「老伯伯,我們要回家了,不跟你玩啦!」
那怪客兩眼瞪視著她,一言不發。程英見他目光之中流露出一股哀愁淒惋、自憐自傷的神色,不自禁的起了同情之心,輕輕道:「要是沒人陪你玩,明天你再到湖邊來,我剝蓮子給你吃。」那怪客歎道:「是啊,十年啦,十年來都沒人陪我玩。」突然間目現凶光,惡狠狠的道:「何沅君呢?何沅君到那裡去了?」
程英見他突然間聲色俱厲,心裡害怕,低聲道:「我……我……我不知道。」那怪客抓住她手臂,將她身子搖了幾搖,低沉著嗓子道:「何沅君呢?」程英給他嚇得幾欲哭了出來,淚水在眼眶中滾來滾去,卻始終沒有流下。那怪客咬牙切齒的道:「哭啊,哭啊!你幹麼不哭?哼,你在十年前就是這樣。我不准你嫁給他,你說不捨得離開我,可是非跟他走不可。你說感激我對你的恩情,離開我心裡很是難過,呸!都是騙人的鬼話。你要是真的傷心,又為什麼哭?」
他狠狠的凝視著程英。程英早給嚇得臉無人色,但淚水總是沒掉下來。那怪客用力搖幌她身子。程英牙齒咬住嘴唇,心中只說:「我不哭,我不哭!」那怪客道:「哼,你不肯為我掉一滴眼淚,連一滴眼淚也捨不得,我活著還有什麼用?」猛然放脫程英,雙腿一彎,矮著身子,往身旁一塊墓碑上撞去,砰的一聲,登時暈了過去,倒在地下。
陸無雙叫道:「表姊,快逃。」拉著程英的手轉身便走。程英奔出幾步,只見怪客頭上泊泊冒血,心中不忍,道:「老伯伯別撞死啦,瞧瞧他去。」陸無雙道:「死了,那不變了鬼麼?」程英吃了一驚,既怕他變鬼,又怕他忽然醒轉,再抓住自己說些古里古怪的瘋話,可是見他滿臉鮮血,實在可憐,自己安慰自己:「老伯伯不是鬼,我不怕,他不會再抓我。」一步步的緩緩走近,叫道:「老伯伯,你痛麼?」
怪客呻吟了一聲,卻不回答。程英膽子大了些,取手帕給他按住傷口。但他這一撞之勢著實猛惡,頭上傷得好生厲害,轉瞬之間,一條手帕就給鮮血浸透。她用左手緊緊按住傷口,過了一會,鮮血不再流出。怪客微微睜眼,見程英坐在身旁,歎道:「你又救我作甚?還不如讓我死了乾淨。」程英見他醒轉,很是高興,柔聲道:「你頭上痛不痛?」怪客搖搖頭,淒然道:「頭上不痛,心裡痛。」程英聽得奇怪,心想:「怎麼頭上破了這麼一大塊,反而頭上不痛心裡痛?」當下也不多問,解下腰帶,給他包紮好了傷處。
怪客歎了口氣,站起身來,道:「你是永不肯再見我的了,那麼咱們就這麼分手了麼?你一滴眼淚也不肯為我流麼?」程英聽他這話說得傷心,又見他一張醜臉雖然鮮血斑斑的甚是怕人,眼中卻滿是求懇之色,不禁心中酸楚,兩道淚水奪眶而出。怪客見到她的眼淚,臉上神色又是歡喜,又是淒苦,哇的一聲哭了出來。
程英見他哭得心酸,自己眼淚更如珍珠斷線般從臉頰上滾將下來,輕輕伸出雙手,摟住了他的脖子。陸無雙見他二人莫名其妙的摟著痛哭,一股笑意竟從心底直透上來,再也忍耐不住,縱聲哈哈大笑。
那怪客聽到笑聲,仰天歎道:「是啊,嘴裡說永遠不離開我,年紀一大,便將過去的說話都忘了,只記著這個新相識的小白臉。你笑得可真開心啊!」低頭仔細再瞧程英,說道:「是的,是的,你是阿沅,是我的小阿沅。我不許你走,不許你跟那小白臉畜生走。」說著緊緊抱住了程英。
陸無雙見他神情激動,卻也不敢再笑了。