從一份招生簡章談學習

我喜歡跟店裡的工讀生在一起,關心她們的同時,我總會想起在遠地求學的大女兒。有一個晚上,我和店裡的孩子們共進晚餐,在談起她們未來的學習計劃時,有個正在外文系上大二的孩子問我,Abby和Pony是如何在那麼大之後才學英文,而仍能把英文學好的。我沒有辦法把她們一路的努力歸納成一個所謂的「方法」講出來給她做參考,但是,我找出的一篇舊文章,也許我們從當年剛剛離開高中的Abby口中,可以看到她自己對語言學習的想法。

雖然這只是一份她為家教班所擬定的招生簡章,但在字裡行間,我仍然感受到她與學習之間的快樂關係。她用來說服大家的經驗,不是自然而然或輕鬆無負擔的學習;她是在辛勤耕耘之後,坐在田埂邊、揮汗細說自己一路走來的體會。我想,這也可以是另一種學習參考。我猜,當年林老師為她與妹妹砌起來要煉真金那座窯,還在她的心中;而且爐中的火也從未熄滅過。  

 

ABBY 英文家教班招生說明    2005-06-08
我將於今年九月離家就讀美國的賓州大學。我未來將主修語文學,因此希望能夠利用暑假來教書,以增進我在這一門科學的實用知識。在仔細考慮與計畫後,我想在這裡對有興趣的人提出三種我自認有資格舉辦的課程。每一堂課以兩人同上為原則,每個禮拜的上課次數則可因個人需要而定。

﹝一)
 托福 / SATI (英文與寫作部分)

許多人喜歡宣稱「潛能測驗」是無法準備的,但我的經驗使我有了另外一種看法。雖然托福和SAT I沒有明確的範圍,我們還是能夠透過加強自己整體的能力來征服這類考試。這意味著背更多的單字,學著用更精確的方法來閱讀與寫作。我所計劃的課程,就是要透過許多練習與詳細的解釋來幫助你磨練上述的幾種能力。

我們將會一起做很多題目,不過更重要的是,我會花時間來一一解釋每一個答案的選項,與你所不熟悉的單字──每一個問題都是一個學習的機會。藉著練習,人們可以達到完美,不過練習的方式一定要聰明。

  我所整理出來的方法是非常有效的。十二年級在自修之後,我把SAT I英文部分原本得到的720分提升到滿分800。在這之後,新加坡美國學校有五個學生請我在課餘時幫助他們提升SAT的成績。

  因為SAT的分數很理想,大學免除了我考托福的必要。托福基本上是為外國學生用來彌補SAT成績不足所設計、相似卻較為簡單的考試。雖然我並沒有實際考過托福,但已準備,並徹底研究過這個考試的材料,所以我對於這個考試的輔導也很有自信。不過,如果你希望真正增進自己的實力,那麼我推薦你攻讀SAT I

〈二〉文學欣賞 
學習英文最好的方法就是閱讀、閱讀和閱讀。但是,光是大量的閱讀是不夠的,你還必須讀好書。這門課是為了引導你去尋找用英文閱讀的樂趣,因為它能夠同時滋潤你的心靈和幫助你大大的增進你的語文能力。

我們所讀的書會在第一堂課測驗過你的英文能力後而定。之後,我會指定書裡的章節作為功課來閱讀。課堂裡,我們則會對所讀的作品做深入的討論與分析。你會從這些以英文進行的團體討論中獲得新的觀點,並在參與中挑戰自己的聽、說能力。依情況而定,我或許也會派發關於書本的寫作功課。

三〉進階寫作研討會
寫作是生活中一種非常重要的能力。寫作的藝術是要在勤奮練習與省思之後才能熟練的。我這堂以小組討論為中心的課,是仿效今年我在學校選修的一堂很棒的同名寫作課。它將幫助你熟悉各種模式的寫作,從散文到短篇故事,依你個人的偏好。你也可以按照自己的需要調整課程的內容,因為有些人也許會想要只專注在一種寫作方式上。 

 

在介紹每一種寫作方式時,我會先開始簡介最基礎的結構,然後再指出在書本、期刊裡或網站上的現有範例,也藉著它們找出這個結構不同的變化。你將會有要在家裡事先完成的寫作功課。草稿應該在下一堂課之前完成,並在團體討論時與大家分享。在討論時,你將會對其他人處理題目的方式下評論,並提供有益的建議。 

 

我們也會訓練自我修改,建立獨立學習的想法很必要;雖然完全仰賴家教很容易,也是很吸引人的選擇,但是學習自我修改使你能夠在停止上課後還繼續進步;只要你夠努力和專注,你就能夠提升你自己。

我會讓同上的兩人先互相修改文章,然後我再修改並給予完成稿一個分數,以讓你了解你在哪些方面做得很好,哪些地方需要再加強。就在一次又一次的修改後,你會懂得避免文法上的錯誤,也會尋找到自己的風格。所有的教學與討論都是用英文進行,因此你也會有機會練習自己的聽、說能力。

媽媽的話──為Abby背書
我們的大女兒Abby六月二號從新加坡美國學校畢業了,從此開始了另一個階段的人生。Abby向來十分用功自重,申請大學時同時被許多學校錄取,最後決定加入長春藤盟校的費城賓大成為第兩百五十三屆的新鮮人。


Abby從小學四年級離開台灣而後進進出出在不同的國家受教育,曾在寶仁小學、曼谷國際學校、瑞士美國學校、德光女中和新加坡美國學校受教育。這些經歷除了使她磨練出適應力之外,也使我們在當中體會出,良好的語言能力奠基於勤奮與正確的學習計劃,她的大學教育準備以語言科學做為大方向。

在這幾年中Abby除了中文與英文之外,她也學習了五年的法語,畢業時同時獲得英文與法語的榮譽獎。她很有計畫的在申請大學宿舍時也選擇了法語宿舍做為精進語言的階梯。對我們來說,最感安慰的不是別人口中的「優秀」,而是她能為自己掌舵。

我們曾跟Abby說:成長的意義便是「權利」與「義務」相伴而生,因此她從十二年級開始便利用課餘與假日當家教以賺取自己的部份生活費。雖然自己的功課很忙,Abby仍然非常投入於她的家教工作中。我聽Pony說,姐姐曾打電話去責備沒做她家課的學生,並要跟他們的媽媽談談,因為她的認真,所以畢業前這些家長都很感謝她。

畢業典禮後Abby徹底地輕鬆了幾天,然後又跟我談起她的暑假計劃,同時也細心在研究著她的大學選課。當她跟我提台北Princeton Review要她去面談授課事宜時,我告訴她這是她去大學前最後一個暑假了,我但願能把她留在身邊久一點,因此她改變了初衷,計劃在台南教英文。

她問我能不能在店裡和網站上幫她招生,我看了她寫的英文與中文的授課簡介,決定以母親的身份極力為她推薦──不只是她的能力,還有她認真負責的態度,在Abby所設計的課程裡,相信她一路走來穩紮穩打、美好的學習經驗能再度重現在其他孩子身上。

I will be leaving home to study at the University of Pennsylvania this coming September. As I intend to major in Linguistics, I hope to enhance my practical knowledge in this field through teaching during summer. After serious considerations and thorough planning, I would like to propose to all those interested, three types of classes that I feel well qualified to teach. Each session takes only two students and class frequency per week is opened to personal preference.

1)TOEFL / SAT I (Verbal and Writing sections)
Many like to claim that aptitude exams cannot be prepared for but my personal experiences have proven otherwise. Even though there are no well-defined boundaries clarifying what specific knowledge will be tested, it is still possible to tackle exams such as TOEFL and SAT I by fortifying one’s overall abilities. This means knowing more vocabularies as well as learning to both read and write more precisely. My course aims to help you in all of the skills named above with intense drills and detailed explanations.

We will be working through many problem sets in this class but more than that, I will take the time to explain each answer option and unfamiliar vocabulary – every question is a learning opportunity. Practice makes perfect, but only when you practice smart.

My methods are extremely effective. By studying on my own, I increased my verbal score on the SAT I from 720 to a perfect score of 800. Due to the success this year, I was subsequently hired by five Singapore American School students to help them improve in my spare time.

With the high score in my SAT I, I was also exempted entirely from TOEFL in the college application process. TOEFL is similar to SAT I, only much easier; it is essentially a compensatory exam created for foreign students. Even though I have not taken the actual exam, I have studied the material so I feel very confident about teaching this course for TOEFL as well. However, if you want to truly strengthen your abilities, I recommend studying for SAT I.

2)Literature Appreciation
The best way to learn English is to read, read and read. Nevertheless, it is not enough to just read in great quantities, you have to read good books as well. This class seeks to help you find the joy of reading in English, which will both nourish your soul and improve your language dramatically.

The books we read will depend on your level of proficiency that is assessed in the first class. From then on, chapters will be assigned as homework to serve as the basis of our in-depth discussions and analyses during class time. You will gain insights from our conversations, held entirely in English, and sharpen your speaking as well as listening skills in the process of participating. Writing assignments relating to out books may also be given if the need arises.

3)Advance Writing Seminar
Writing is an extremely important skill in life. It is an art that comes with rigorous practice and reflection. My course, which revolves around group discussion, is modeled and named after a wonderful writing class I took in school this year. It will help you with various types of writing, from essays to short stories, depending on personal preferences. The curriculum can be tailored to suit your needs; for example, some may choose to concentrate on just one sort.

To introduce each kind of writing, I will begin by explaining the most conventional structures, followed by showing existing examples drawn from books, periodicals or websites to point out the different variations. You will then be given assignments to work on at home. First drafts should be completed by the following class and presented during group discussions, in which you will comment on each other’s approaches to the topic and suggest ways for improvement.

We will also work on self-editing (developing this independence is vital since it is sometimes very easy and therefore tempting to rely completely on the tutor or other people. Learning to self-edit ensures that you can continue to improve by yourself even after you stop taking lessons. As long as you are dedicated and hardworking, you can elevate yourself), peer editing and finally, I will grade the final draft to give you an idea of what you do well and what you should still improve on. Through repeated editing, you will learn to avoid grammatical errors and improve your style. All instructions and discussions will be held in English to give you an opportunity to sharpen your speaking and listening skills as well.