8. Learning "language" is not learning "language textbook"-Woodmam

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If you don't pay attention to reading and hold on to the textbook to learn the language, then students will be more and more incompetent when they enter secondary school, and in the end, it will be difficult to get good results in the most critical college entrance examinations.

  A few years ago, a girl named Li Luke was once in the spotlight. She skipped two grades, got into Tsinghua at the age of 15, and studied for a PhD in architecture at Tsinghua University at the age of 20. While people are looking at her with the eyes of a genius, her father said that his daughter is not intellectually superior, the difference between her and others is that when other people's children are desperately trying to read to memorize some irrelevant, at best, only for flipping the text (mainly refers to the language textbook), I am letting my children read the classics such as "Analects of Confucius", "Mencius", "Guwen Guanzhi".

  Li Luke's father insisted that his daughter have plenty of extracurricular reading, believing that the best teenage years should be spent reading the classics. He was dissatisfied with the current school language education, believing that "chattering on irrelevant words and wasting too much time will only ruin one's life. Because of this contradiction with schooling, he took his children out of school three times so that his daughter could read freely and without restraint. The extensive extracurricular reading brought about a leap in intelligence and learning, early intelligence in life and ease of growth.

  This is in contrast to the current practice of teachers and parents who regard language textbooks as the bible of language learning. One cannot help but admire his courage and insight.

  I have read a book called "How We Learn Languages", in which more than seventy well-known contemporary scientists, cultural scholars and writers wrote about their early experiences in language learning, divided into four sections from the 1920s and 1930s to the 1960s and 1970s, according to the era in which the authors were born or studied. I found an interesting phenomenon in the book -

  All the leading scholars before the 1950s are full of warm memories of their language studies. Almost all of them encountered one or several well-educated language teachers, and from their initial language studies they gained a perfect nourishment of language and thought; they all affirm that their language studies in their early years laid a good foundation for their lifelong career and their conduct. For example, Mr. Yang Shuzi, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was asked what personal factors contributed to his becoming an academician. He replied, "One of the important factors is the humanistic culture, and the excellent traditional culture of the Chinese nation, the Chinese language, played an important, direct or indirect role."

  In contrast, those who received language education in primary and secondary schools in the 1970s and 1980s were critical of the language education they experienced, believing that the quality of the teaching materials was not high, the teaching methods were corrupt, and the ideological enlightenment was poor, while the reason for their subsequent "success" was that they were lucky to get some extracurricular reading materials, and it was these extracurricular materials that made them whole. It was these extracurricular materials that made them successful.

  The famous contemporary writer Bi Feiyu was born in the 1960s, so he attended primary and secondary school in the 1970s and 1980s. In his article "The Language Education I Received," he said, "If I were to give a score to the language education my generation received, I would not give it a 'zero' because it is not a 'zero' but a negative number. The reason I say this is not at all meant to be alarming. After receiving language education in primary and secondary schools, we had to spend a lot of effort to educate and enlighten ourselves again".

  He was criticizing the language education at that time. But time has changed, and after so many years, our language education is still the same. This bad state of affairs has not yet shown any signs of ending.

  From the layout of the textbooks, the elementary school language is still generally based on the logical framework of learning pinyin and vocabulary first, then vocabulary and sentences.

  Does pinyin really need to be at the forefront of language learning? Do we really need to learn the characters one by one?

  In fact, this apparently reasonable logic is not in line with children's cognitive order, reverses the nature of language learning, reverses the order of language learning, and is full of anti-cognitive connotations.

  Language is a tool in itself, and phonics is a "tool of tools" - it is the equivalent of the rosin that erhu players occasionally use to lubricate their bow hairs, but it does not take a long time to learn when each child first learns the erhu. The "tool of tools" has now become a tool and an end in itself, so much so that some people are actually suggesting that Chinese writing should be completely replaced by "pinyin". instead of "Chinese characters". It is unbelievable that such a ridiculous idea has been openly proposed and even discussed!

  At the same time, we forget that children need to learn in a visual, interesting and holistic way, and we pull them into boring and abstract letters and characters as soon as they start school.

  Once I read this quote from Mr. Wang Donghua of the Institute of Motherhood Education at East China Jiaotong University, and I thought it was very well said. He said: What is the biggest problem with our language education is that we teach Chinese pictographs in the same way we teach Western pinyin script. In the past, a year of private school taught more than 2,000 characters. Now that we have abandoned our country's 2,000 years of excellent literacy education, children can't read anything by the third grade.

  From the text selection of language textbooks, there are very many mediocre works, many of which are not considered top quality from ideology and interest to the delicacy of the text, yet they are included in the textbooks.

  Tao Xingzhi criticized more than 70 years ago: "Chinese textbooks not only do not include the best texts, but also use fragmentary texts as the center, teaching a few words in each lesson and imparting a little fragmentary knowledge. When we read novels like "Water Margin", "Dream of the Red Chamber" and "Robinson Crusoe", we want to read the second section after reading the first one, and even read from morning to evening, from night to dawn, to feel the pain of reading it all in one breath. Textbooks centered on fragmentary texts do not have this kind of weight." He likened such textbooks to "vegetables without life" and "good white rice", which "make people suffer from foot disease and have difficulty walking.

  Mr. Tao also said: "Some people say that Chinese literati are bookworms. But textbooks do not even have the power to train bookworms. Why do bookworms moth the book, because there are delicious things in the book, so that it eats and wants to eat. Eating a textbook is like eating wax, once you eat it, you don't want to eat it again." (2) The phenomenon that Mr. Tao attacked decades ago has not improved and is getting stronger.

  Sun Yu, a famous contemporary writer who was a secondary school teacher for a while, was deeply disappointed with language education from his own experience in the 1970s and later as a teacher. But when his daughter grew up and went to school, he once went through her textbooks and was amazed that the disappointing chapters he had taught were all over his daughter's textbooks.

  Mr. Qian Liqun, a famous scholar and professor of Chinese at Peking University, commented that the selection of our language textbooks is basically stuck at the level of the 1960s. This really hits the nail on the head.

  From a pedagogical point of view, the classroom teaching in primary and secondary schools in China still follows such a kind of eight-strand dogma as raw characters, explanation of words, analysis of meanings, appreciation of ideas, and a lot of recitation of modern texts.

  Students have to read, write, and memorize these words over and over again, even if they are already known to most children.

  The "Language Teaching Reference Book", which is distributed to teachers in tandem with the language textbooks, already specifies how to interpret each lesson. Dr. Li Zhenxi, a renowned contemporary educator and teacher, criticized the current language classes for becoming a place of ideological tyranny, "Learning "Confucius" can only be understood as a criticism of the feudal imperial examination system; learning "Moonlight on the Lotus Pond" can only be understood as Zhu Ziqing's silent protest against the Holocaust ...... Students' minds are firmly Putting spiritual shackles on, where is the spiritual space for creativity?"

  I know that some children, in order to be able to answer the teacher's questions accurately in class, will try to get a textbook reference book so that they can answer many questions "correctly" in the language classroom.

  Language textbooks often have a lot of modern texts to memorize. Since modern texts are oral, they are open-ended and not as wordy as classical literature. The children are asked to recite, most of them are some very common passages, which can not reach the situation of "adding a word is more, subtracting a word is less", but the test requires a word, a punctuation can not be wrong. For example, they could not recite "hit him hard" as "hit him hard" - just one more It is not possible to recite "hit him hard" as "hit him hard" - just one more word "ground", which is not necessary. Every punctuation point should be memorized ...... only for the purpose of "correctness", not for comprehension, not to remember the classics into memory and thought, but only to not lose marks on the examination paper. The means and purpose are completely confused here.

  The language literacy of the teachers is so pale that the professionalism of the group of language teachers has been greatly degraded by years of rigid and single-minded teaching methods, as implied by the role of "language teacher".

  I personally heard a principal say about a teacher's work schedule, "If you can't teach anything else, you can't teach language!"

  When Yuan Yuan was in elementary school, teachers often emphasized that "learning a language means memorizing texts, and students who are good at memorizing texts will have high test scores. After going to junior high school, I met an even more surprising language teacher. The teacher was very "dedicated" and often gave students a lot of homework, much of which was unexplained. For example, she put "listless" in the "vocabulary" category and asked the students to look up the pronunciation of each word in the dictionary - which of these four words is a vocabulary word for a first-year junior high school student? Which of these four words is a student character? For example, they were asked to explain what "cough", "strength", "pride", etc. were, and most of these words could not be found in the Chinese dictionary, so the students had to use more complicated words to "explain" these "words". The students had to use more complicated words to "explain" these "raw words", and this kind of homework could make people's belly burst.

  I remember once Yuan Yuan was very annoyed when doing this kind of homework and said that it seemed that "eating" and "drinking" also had to be explained, so we simply played a game and together we gave this explanation for "eating": "to eat with a spoon and chopsticks". Note: "to spoon chopsticks and other special tools to send food into the mouth, grinding with teeth, through the throat into the gastrointestinal process", after explaining, found that now there are more words need to explain, such as "spoon", "food ", "gastrointestinal" - it is "endless learning" ah! We laughed bitterly.

  In terms of reading volume. Take the current Beijing elementary school textbooks for the fourth and fifth grades, for example, a textbook has about 20,000 to 30,000 words, while the normal reading volume of a fourth-grade child should reach 800,000 to 1 million words a semester - not the 20,000 words of the textbook is the "concentrated essence", which can It is 20,000 words, no more and no less-that is, the amount of reading that a textbook provides is far from adequate in terms of the amount of reading that students should be able to do!

  The language education community has begun to emphasize extracurricular reading for students in recent years, and has listed many masterpieces from both ancient and modern times. However, most schools and teachers look at the test scores of the moment and do not pay much attention to extracurricular reading, and primary and secondary students' language learning is basically limited to language textbooks. In elementary school in particular, teaching activities are almost entirely focused on textbooks. The so-called "extracurricular reading" is just a wisp of wind in the ear.

  Two years ago, there was a discussion in the community about language education in primary and secondary schools, and many people expressed their dissatisfaction with the current language education in schools, and there were even many strong words. There seems to be a consensus that language classes in primary and secondary schools are difficult to carry such a heavy burden as "language learning". But after the debate, the situation remains the same, with small adjustments, but no change in the soup, basically no change.

  It is a heartbreaking fact that thousands of years of civilization have produced a wealth of language and culture unparalleled in the world. As we enter modern society, we have advanced technologically, but we are actually becoming less and less able to learn our own mother tongue.

  Our language education tends to be more and more industrialized in its thinking. Symbolic, technical, and standardized teaching and assessment are eliminating the unique and ever-changing charm of the subject of language and its richness. Mother tongue learning, which should be a relaxing and enjoyable thing, is now alienated and turned into a boring and distorted affair. Language classes are becoming more and more perverted into an almost torturous activity, so it is no wonder that so many children are becoming less and less interested in learning languages.

  What should I learn about languages and how can I learn them well?

  Language teaching reform is an ambitious subject that requires in-depth research, and no individual can give an authoritative answer. But we do, after all, have some effective experiences that we can apply to our learning lives today to achieve significant results.

  As can be summarized from the experiences of many people and various sources, there are many elements to learning a language well, but the core and most fundamental way is reading, and it is not feasible to learn a language without the accumulation of reading. The Soviet educator Sukhomlinsky tried many means to promote students' mental work, and came to one conclusion: the most effective means is to expand their reading range.

  People who read poorly must be poor in language and also poor in thinking. If we want our children to learn the language well, but ignore their reading outside the classroom, it is like giving a spoonful of milk to a child who should have a glass of milk, and letting a person who wants to learn to swim into the tub to test the water.

  Nowadays, many primary and secondary schools have opened "reading classes", but these classes are basically not a book in the hands of the child to read, but the teacher speaks "reading methods", students do "reading questions". This is like when a person needs to drink water, the person next to him will talk a lot of knowledge about drinking water, well let him answer some questions about drinking water; but full of water cups but never handed to him.

  The state invests a lot of money every year in the construction of primary and secondary school libraries, but many school libraries are nothing more than an old cardboard box on the roof of the attic - just something to talk about, but actually nothing to do with the daily teaching life of the school. Children are constantly in "reading poverty," and the topic of discussion at school language conferences is often "how to teach a good reading lesson.

  If schooling does not provide enough reading for children, reading outside the classroom must be supplemented at home.

  Many of the parents I spoke with did not have a good understanding of the relationship between reading and language learning, and some even discouraged their children from reading outside the classroom. They are very concerned about their children's performance, heard that reading extracurricular books is good for learning, let the child read a few days, but as soon as the child becomes interested in reading, began to appear fascinated, parents are worried, afraid to delay learning, and quickly pull the child back to the textbook. These parents always think that reading extracurricular books is not learning, but learning from textbooks is learning.

  In elementary school there is a phenomenon that some children never read extracurricular books, test scores are often very high, while some students who often read extracurricular books in the test did not show the advantage.

  This is because elementary school language exam papers are generally tightly focused on the textbook, and repeated training before the exam that closely follows the textbook will indeed allow children to perform well on the paper. In fact, many of the results are just an illusion. It is not that the children cheated, but this test does not test the real "language level" of the students, it only tests the "level of learning the textbook".

  The illusion of language achievement is generally only maintained at the primary level, once you enter secondary school, especially in high school, the connection between the language paper and the textbook becomes weaker and weaker, and the correlation between performance and the amount of reading becomes apparent.

  The majority of the language papers in the college entrance exam, except for some ancient poems, have nothing to do with the textbook, and it tests the students' true language level - I'm not saying that the way the college entrance exam is designed is the most reasonable, and I don't intend to comment on that here, but just to show that if you don't pay attention to reading and learn the language by clinging to the textbook, then students will enter In the end, it will be difficult to get good results in the most critical examinations. A student who is really good at the language can handle any form and level of paper with ease, and will not perform mediocre in the college entrance exam.

  When Wei Shusheng, the famous special teacher, taught language in secondary school, he always led his students through all the textbooks in the first month of school and spent the rest of the time doing extensive reading and related subject activities, although he had the pressure of students' entrance exams on his shoulders. He was also a man who had such contempt for the textbooks, yet he was able to teach a "poor class" in an ordinary school to a "experimental class" whose test scores exceeded those of a major school. He has grasped the core of language learning, and achieving good results is a matter of course.

  Most parents and teachers can't have the courage and ability to let their children learn without the language textbooks, like Li Luke's father or Wei Shusheng, but we should at least not be textbook oriented. We must first realize that learning a language is not about learning the textbook, and then we can boldly introduce extracurricular reading into our children's learning.

  Special tips

  ● There are many elements to learning a language well, but the core and most fundamental way is reading, and it is not feasible to learn a language without the accumulation of reading.

  If schooling does not provide enough reading for children, reading outside the classroom must be supplemented at home.

  ● Repeated training that follows the textbook closely before the test will indeed make children perform well on the paper. In fact, many of these grades are just an illusion. It is not that the children cheated, but that the test does not test the real "language level" of the students, it only tests the "level of learning the textbook". The illusion of language achievement is generally only maintained at the elementary school level; once you enter secondary school, especially high school, the connection between language papers and textbooks becomes weaker and weaker, and the correlation between achievement and reading volume becomes apparent.

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