[文摘] China’s Tyranny of Characters Might Not Succeed (and Be Succeeded)

The English subbing of Dynasty Warrior 6 & 7 & 8 is totally not a bad work, which I just found out these two days by bumping into them on Youtube.
The work certainly helped popularize that part of Chinese history (namely, the Three Kingdoms era, of which I am a serious enthusiaste) among a new generation of foreign (non-Chinese) game players.
The thing is, due to the lack of scholarly materials (and of accurate translation of either first or secondary materials on that history), these foreign audiences got serious confused about what is in DW6/7/8, what is in Romance of the Three Kingdoms (the novel 三國演義 written in Ming), and the Records of the Three Kingdoms (the historical account 三國誌 written by Chen Shou in West Jin). I am so sad with their inability to get the different layers of facts straight, especially some Thai and Vietnamese players claimed to have the authoritative say because « Chinese history is a mandatory class at their school. »
Anyway, the Economist article here is also dealing with a very complex and historical part of Chinese culture that i’d say without significant exposure to local knowledge would be hard to avoid mistakes. However, the authoritative weekly has gotten the job beautifully done.
It touches the following things about the tension of retaining current Chinese writing system with Mandarin pronunciations:
The Communist Party is basically pursuing the course of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor, for linguistic unification by suppressing the use of regional dialects, « just as the British authorities tried to get rid of the Gaelic languages in Scotland and Ireland in the 18th century, and many companies are going along with it. »
China in reality it is like medieval Europe—a continent full of different languages, nominally united by a written lingua franca (classical Chinese analogous to Latin).
The Europe got rid of Latin for regional languages (German, English, etc.) just like classical Chinese became dead, too. But China has managed to avoid a linguistic fragmentation with the introduction of plain Chinese (白話文) and with Mandarin as the official way to pronounce it.
Some revolutionaries, including Mao Zedong, initially wanted to scrap Chinese characters altogether and replace them with an alphabet. They settled instead for a simplification of the characters and a standardisation of how they are pronounced and written in Roman letters, known as pinyin (拼音). //
Early in the technological revolution, many thought the complexity of inputting characters into computers might kill them off completely. But the opposite has happened: “Pinyin allows anyone to read and write anything they can say.” Just type “chang” or “mao” in pinyin and choose from a selection of 5 or 6 characters pronounced that way, easing the burden of having to recall the characters cold.
Slogging away at the rote learning of characters (by speaking into their phones and computers—in their own languages and dialects) leads to “character amnesia”-many digital natives now have difficulties writing an article by pen, but it also help release cognitive resources for thinking other things outside the boxy prison of Chinese characters.
And as they become more reflective and creative- as we could see how the Chinese language is re-appropriated, new words and phrases are coined in an unprecedented way, would Beijing still be able to achieve the same level of imperial state control as that ancient counterparts?



Source: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/01/08/17ell.h28.html




以下是Education Week提供的概略分佈圖




美國教育週報(Education Week)本期專題報導美國移民第二代的教育問題。主要是自90年代以來,隨著美國經濟榮景而來到美國淘金的移民呈現大幅增加的趨勢,過往一些種族較為單純的次級城鎮(尤以阿肯瑟州、北卡州、田納西州、南達柯塔州)經歷了明顯的社會人種學結構上的改變。


這種趨勢即使是向來以國際化著稱的大城市如紐約也不可免。目前紐約市公立學校正註冊就讀的學生將近一百萬人,當中有超過五十萬名學童的父母親至少有一位是出生在美國以外的國家地區。今年度,有148,000名學生被列為「外語學生」(English-language learners,簡稱ELLs),18年前,這個數字是109,000。然而到了2009年尾,這個數字預計還會再升高三萬人。



  1. 第一個調查「父母當中至少一人有大學以上學歷」反應的是父母教育程度。
  2. 第二個調查「家庭年收入低於清寒收入戶定義的兩倍」,應該是他們對「中下階層」的定義標準。例如在美國家庭年收入低於兩萬美金,將被政府認定清寒收入戶,而你家年入三萬九,那麼你就會被算在這個「中下階層」之內(低於兩萬的兩倍)。所以第二個調查出來的數字比例愈低,表示這個群體中的窮人愈少。
  3. 第三個調查「父母當中至少一人有全職的全時間工作」,問的應該是工作的穩定性和就業率,這個數字是愈高愈好。
  4. 最後一個調查更直接,問平均年收入。在美國工作,如果你的英文不是母語(亦即,你們家中跟小孩的最初主要對話是用英文之外的語言),收入竟然只能是那些母語人士的六成。還不知道這邊是不是也把滯美的印度人和新加坡人也算為母語人士呢。



針對這些學童的教育,最重要的就是提供雙語的初級師資和語言課程。然而,這種情況卻難以普及或一視同仁。即是在大都會地區,要找到講大溪地克里奧語(Haitian Creole)或烏都語(Urdu)的師資然後開班,仍然是項難能的奢侈。




在語言專門教育的師資招聘上,許多州縣市都經歷著同樣的掙扎:預算、人事、課程安排、成效評量、地點等不確定或不利因素。「想要把那些能夠去達拉斯或休士頓等城市的師資帶到我們這裡來,是遙不可及的,」,在提到人才訓練和招聘時,Don Love,阿肯瑟州小鎮Springdale的一位教學督察,或許說出了大家的心聲:「我們現下最好的一批師資來源,將是我們自己的學生。」


Education Week 以下較完整的推薦閱讀(英):

  • 專題一: OVERVIEW 綜覽

Immigration Transforms Communities 新移民改變了社群結構

That sweeping shift in demographic patterns has strained the capacity of school districts, and even state departments of education, to develop and pay for instructional programs to teach children who are still learning English.

English-Learners Pose Policy Puzzle 外語學生拋出政策大挑戰

The task of ensuring that millions of children learn English—and succeed academically—is putting pressure on states and school districts as they push to boost student achievement overall.

洛杉磯市Moffett小學的四年級老師Thelma Gonzalez說的一口好英文和西班牙文。她提到,教師能流利地和外語學生的家長們進行溝通,是讓這些孩子們在學習上表現提升的關鍵。

ELLs and the Law: Statutes, Precedents

Case law and statutes involving the right of English-learners to a public education—and the responsibilities of state and local governments to provide it—stretch back decades and continue to evolve.


Research Hones Focus on ELLs 以研究帶動教學方向:更多的教學法和語言學等研究,將是制訂未來教學政策方針的必要參考

Even as new research turns up promising insights on how best to teach English-language learners, the pool of high-quality studies is still shallow, scholars say.

Training Gets Boost 遠水救不了近火!各州市自力救濟、開發管道訓練英語教育所需的師資人才

Faced with a shortage of teachers specializing in English as a second language, states and districts move to grow their own.

  • 專題三: Assessment & Accountability 審核與評估

Screening Students Proves to Be Crucial 判別「外語學生」的標準為何?該在一入學時就做嗎?如今,美國學生英語程度的評核機制亦成關鍵。

Determining where an English-language learner should be placed at the time of enrollment—and when the student should be moved—is a key part of assuring student success.

Weigh Proficiency, Assess Content 教學評量的一項矛盾是:當我們認清外語學生需要更多的幫助才能學好英文的同時,我們在針對閱讀和數理能力的大型考試中(如SAT)卻假定了他們和美國學生同樣的語文能力。收授大量外籍移民子女的學校,若因學生SAT均分被外語學生拉低,而被教育界和輿論認為是爛學校,這對他們(教育者)治學所付出的努力公平嗎?

Students who are still working to master the English language are being held to the same reading and math proficiency targets as native English-speakers.


  1. 採用母語幫助:考卷翻譯成雙語、考試可帶上雙語辭典、作答方式用學生母語解釋過、學生用母語口頭作答以示理解
  2. 採用英語幫助:考試可帶上英英字典、作答方式用英語解釋過、學生用英語口頭作答以示理解
  3. 語言輔助外的幫助:延長外語學生的考試作答時間


Graduation Hurdles Prove High for ELLs 跨越學習門檻不易,高校外語學生難畢業!

Exit exams that determine whether students graduate from high school can be a brick wall.