Eric.ed.gov – Exporting English Pronunciation from China: The Communication Needs of Young Chinese Scientists as Teachers in Higher Education Abroad

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China has become an exporter of material goods to the world, particularly to the United States. It is time for the exploration of a mutually beneficial relationship in a strikingly different realm, that of human capital in higher education and its contributions to the quality of university teaching. To faculty members and students at U.S. universities the human face of this relationship is Chinese international teaching assistants (ITAs) who are graduate students in science and math, and who are also being supported as teachers of basic undergraduate courses within their academic disciplines. Chinese ITAs are the largest single group of international graduate students, and they make American undergraduate education possible in chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, business, and computer science. The quality of the performance of native English speaking and non-native English speaking TAs has an impact on the learning of U.S. undergraduates, and while many in American universities praise Chinese ITAs’ high levels of knowledge within their areas of study, less praiseworthy are their English communication skills. For a variety of reasons many young Chinese scholars arrive in the U.S. not able to function as content teachers who have to operate in English, and a salient feature of this inability to use English to communicate is Chinese ITAs’ lack of experience with suprasegmental aspects of English pronunciation such as Discourse Intonation (DI), which is used to emphasize and differentiate ideas, begin and end topics, and express social relationships in spoken utterances. Yet English as a Foreign Language education (EFL) in China does not deal with suprasegmental aspects of English pronunciation, nor really with spoken intelligibility at all. This proposal describes an initial step in a three-year agenda for improving the current exchange of human capital and knowledge in higher education between China and the U.S., and, ostensibly, other countries in which young Chinese scientists seek advanced degrees, and in which English is the medium of instruction and communication. In essence, greater mutual communication and curricular exchange between American and Chinese institutions of higher education is needed. There needs to be a shift in who Chinese universities see as stakeholders for their EFL program outcomes. One possible mechanism would be a mutually developed course, “Using English to Teach Labs and Classes in U.S. Universities,” to be developed and taught in China to late-career undergraduates who intend to pursue graduate study in the U.S. Two established research and science institutions will be focused on, one in the U.S. and one in China. As the initial step, one ITA educator and materials development specialist from the U.S. university will visit the Chinese university for a five month period. This report creates a context and outlines the agenda for this working visit, and for the development of the course. (Contains 7 tables and 2 figures.)

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som adjunkt hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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