Newsletter No. 429/430

12 Nos. 429 /430, 23.12.2013 What brought you to Hong Kong, and to CUHK? From 1991 to 1994, I worked as a consultant for the Canada-China Teacher Education Project at Beijing Normal University and used to stop in Hong Kong on my way to and from China. At that time I was the director of a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Centre at a university in Halifax and I wanted to have more time for research. I knew that CUHK had a good reputation and I thought that Hong Kong would be an excellent place to do research in my field and I was right! When I first started to work here in 1995, I had no idea how long I’d stay… I’ve now been in Hong Kong for more than 18 years! You are an advocate of learning English through studies abroad, and have successfully facilitated such programmes before. Can you share with us some of your experience and findings? In our increasingly interconnected world it’s very important for universities to internationalize. Education abroad is part of this process. From 2001 to 2009, I helped organize and taught in a study abroad programme for English majors that involved ethnographic fieldwork and a summer sojourn in England. Since 2009, I’ve been studying the impact of a semester or year abroad on the language and intercultural learning and ‘whole-person development’ of CUHK students. I’m now leading a joint project on education abroad that involves Tsinghua University, Nanjing University, and Fudan University. I’m also investigating the experiences of incoming international exchange students on our campus. While international experience certainly has the potential to be transformative, sojourns are actually quite variable. While some students experience significant gains in second language proficiency and become more globally-minded, others do not really make the most of their stay in a different linguistic and cultural environment. Many researchers, including me, now advocate some form of intervention, such as intercultural communication courses and ongoing, guided reflection. To maximize education abroad learning, the ‘ Global Schola r’ website offers online support for student sojourners and returnees. What other advice would you offer future international exchange students? Before venturing abroad, it’s important to think about specific goals for the sojourn. For example, they can think about what they want to achieve in terms of personal, academic, social, and professional enhancement. Instead of living with other Hong Kong students, they could stay with host nationals or other international students who have a different linguistic and cultural background. While abroad, they could challenge themselves to try new things and actively participate in extracurricular activities. Many host institutions offer orientation programmes to help students adjust to the new environment and these can be helpful. Also, culture shock is a natural part of the adjustment process and if students persevere, they can gain a tremendous amount from their sojourn. I would also encourage incoming international exchange students to get out of their comfort zone and more fully benefit from what Hong Kong has to offer. While I strongly encourage all students to venture abroad, it’s also important to recognize that local students can have intercultural experiences on our campus. We now have many more non-local students, including students from mainland China, and I would like to see more meaningful intercultural interactions at CUHK. You are one of the two recipients of the 2013 University Education Award, the highest accolade for teaching excellence in CUHK. What does the award mean to you, and what would you cite as your most remarkable achievement in your career here so far? I felt very honoured and deeply grateful to receive this award. For me, it shows that the University is genuinely concerned about the quality of teaching on campus and really values research that is designed to enhance teaching and learning. I am most proud of the fact that I have been able to create several postgraduate and undergraduate courses that stem directly from my research on language and intercultural communication and education abroad. Most recently, with the support of a Teaching Development Grant, I developed ‘Intercultural Transitions: Making Sense of Education Abroad’, an elective course for undergraduates with recent or current international experience. This course encourages local and non-local students to interact with each other as they ‘unpack’ their experiences and critically reflect on their assumptions and behaviour in intercultural interactions. Also, with the support of a Teaching Development Grant, I started the CUHK’s Annual Study Abroad Writing Contest, which is now in its third year. The winning essays are posted on the website of the Office of Academic Links. The Nobel prize for literature was recently awarded to a fellow-Canadian of yours. Do you have books that are particularly to your liking? My mother read many of Alice Munro ’s books and she would have been delighted to see that Ms. Munro has won this prestigious award. I am looking forward to reading her books as my mother has left me her collection. Not surprisingly, I very much enjoy reading books that focus on Chinese culture as well as intercultural and international transitions. On my last conference trip, I read Adeline Yen Mah ’s autobiography Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter . Another book on transitions that I’ve read recently is Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain . It’s about an English couple who relocated to the Alpujarra Mountains in Southern Spain. 是甚麼把你帶來香港和中大? 1991至1994年,我任北京師範大學「加拿大中國教師教 育項目」顧問,往返北京時常途經香港。那時我亦是加 拿大哈利法克斯一所大學內的教授英語為第二語言中 心主管,希望放多點時間做研究。中大聲譽良好,我認 為香港是作我專長範疇研究的理想之地,而我確實選對 了﹗1995年我到這裏工作,沒想過會待上多久,到現在 已超過十八年了! 你主張以海外學習來提升英語水平,並成功推行好 些計劃,可否談談你的經驗和研究發現? 全球各地的聯繫漸趨緊密,大學國際化更形重要,海外 學習是國際化進程的一環。2001至2009年,我協助統 籌和任教一個為英文主修生而設的海外學習課程,內容 包括民族志田野考察以及英國暑期留學。自2009年起, 我一直研究中大生到海外學習一年或一個學期,對他們 在語言、跨文化學習,以及全人發展的幫助。現時我正 帶領一個與清華大學、南京大學和復旦大學合作的海外 學習項目,另外,我亦研究來港交換生的校園體驗。 雖然海外經驗有可能令參加者產生脫胎換骨的改變,但 短暫停留的影響其實因人而異。有些學生完成後,第二 語言大幅進步,思維更全球化;但亦有些參加者並沒善 用異地的語言和文化環境。不少研究人員,包括我,現 時均主張要有某種形式的介入,例如開設跨文化溝通課 程,提供持續的反思指導。美國的 Global Scholar ,就 是為正在海外學習或已學成歸來的學生提供支援的網 站,目的是加強海外學習的成效。 對擬參加交流的學生還有何忠告? 出發前要清楚目標。例如可以想想在個人、學術、社交或 專業發展方面,期望有甚麼收穫;選擇與當地生或有不 同語言和文化背景的國際生同住;敢於嘗試新事物,積 極參與課外活動,很多院校會辦迎新活動,對新生適應 甚有幫助;此外,經歷文化衝擊是適應過程中很自然的 事,若能堅持,定會獲益良多。我亦鼓勵來港國際生多 作新嘗試,盡享本地提供的各種機會。 我極力主張所有學生往外闖,不過,在本地校園也可體 驗跨文化交流。我們有很多非本地學生,有些來自內 地,我期望可見到更多有意義的跨文化交流。 你是2013年度博文教學獎兩位得主之一,此獎可謂 中大最高的教學榮譽,對你有何意義?你認為自己 工作上最大的成就是甚麼? 我對獲獎深感榮幸和衷心感激。這獎項顯示大學非常關 注教學,並重視能改進教與學的研究。 大學以我對於語言、跨文化溝通和海外學習的研究為 根據,開設了數個研究生和本科生課程,這是我最自 豪的。最近在教學發展補助金支持下開辦的選修課程 Intercultural Transitions: Making Sense of Education Abroad,對象是剛完成海外交流或正在中大交流的本 科生,鼓勵本地和非本地學生交流,分享經驗,並反思 自己在跨文化交流中的預設和行為。我也在這項補助金 支持下開展了中大每年一度的海外交流徵文比賽,至今 已是第三屆了。獲獎文章會上載於學術交流處網頁。 今年諾貝爾文學獎的得主也是加拿大人,你有否喜 愛的作家或書籍? 家母讀過很多 艾莉絲 ‧ 孟若 的作品,若她得知孟若女 士獲此殊榮,一定會很高興。她把孟若的書留下給我, 我很期待閱讀。我自然也喜歡閱讀與中國文化、跨文化 和跨國遷移有關的書籍。上次出外參加研討會,就看 了 馬嚴君玲 的自傳 Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter (中譯《落葉歸根》)。 我最近又讀了一本關於遷移的書 Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain ,講述一對英國夫婦移居西班牙南 部阿爾普哈拉山脈的故事。 Prof. Jane Jackson 英文系教授 Professor in the Department of English 2013年博文教學獎得主 Recipient of 2013 University Education Award