Are you still trading centuries of pollution for literally minutes of convenience? Did you know it takes 400 years for a PET bottle to be fully biodegraded? Are you still using it? Let’s quite using it with a petition together!你還在用一次性塑膠製品嗎？你知道一個寶特瓶需四百年才能被自然分解嗎？你真的要為了圖幾分鐘的方便而”一次塑成千古恨”，殘害所有的生命 ?一起來拒絕使用一次性塑膠!
一切都是因為愛…不相信嗎？想想，一切不都是因為愛自己或愛他人比較多，而感到愉悅或不悅，然後進而做出決定？ 一切其實只需要從自己每次累積的情緒裡，聆聽自己要什麼，如果足夠想要或不想要，就有了自然的動力。當然在改變的過程中，可能會有很多的挫折，但不管發生了什麼，都是在為你的人生經歷加分，因為每一次的分析之後做出的決定，你都會學到自己的路該怎麼走得更堅定。 You have lots to gain and nothing to lose!
Why can’t you learn a language well?
It’s not entirely your fault…
Learning a foreign language is supposed to help people widen their perspective and take the first step towards understanding other people living on the other side of the world. NOTonlyfor passing an exam! Only, our education system got it all wrong, and that’s why people would most likely strive for just a high score, or simply try not to fail. An additional language could help people open the door to a different culture, to be competitive in the global market, or even to live a new life. However, how could our education system help us get there?
Most of our education systems in the world demand high marks and overlook the natural and effective learning process. We have all experienced the process of trying to cram things into our head and only study for the exam. And as soon as the exam is finished, we forget it all. Yet, what is a natural learning process? Let’s take a moment to remember back how you learned your first language, your mother tongue, or perhaps think of a little child learning a language. It was months of listening until you could speak the first word, followed by a few years of speaking before you started to read, and then finally learn to write. During the learning process, we made our attempts, got corrected, and then once we succeeded we got cheered on, and finally gained confidence to learn more. Naturally, we understand that using a language can help us to achieve what we want. So there you have it, a motivation to continue learning further. Does our current education system reflect any part of this natural learning?
On the contrary, most education systems, if not all, want us to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills all at the same time. This would surely not help us digest the new language, but instead frustrate many of us at an early stage. As a multilingual person teaching languages, I wouldn’t insist on students starting to write too soon. Instead, especially for the Chinese language where we use a non-phonetic writing system, I would only introduce the characters at the beginning as part of its art and culture.
Many people have asked me how I learned English, but I didn’t know exactly what to tell them, until recently when I realized I never really learned English just for exams. I was in a church where there were many foreigners and, out of curiosity, I wanted to get to know them more. That was my motivation. The school on the other hand only strengthened what I already recognized about the language, so tests were never an issue but instead just a confirmation of my English level. When I tried to obtain my Spanish A1 certificate this year, I would power through many exercises – as my online subscription was ending – but I didn’t feel good about it. Deep inside, I knew I wouldn’t remember much what I had studied, and surely wouldn’t be able to use it in future. Then, really, what’s the point of having a certificate?
A test should never be about how much vocabulary I have, and the correctness of my grammar. Instead, it should validate my ability of sending a message across with what I know about the language. After all, language is a tool for communicationand that is what we should be measuring against. Even if we have poor grammar, and use words wrongly, if we get the job done then we deserve some points for effectiveness of communication. This could encourage students to try, and not be afraid of making mistakes. And in fact, this is a reflection of the real world.
On Peace Boat (a NPO based in Japan), its GET English program promotes task-based English, where the volunteer teachers would teach you words and sentences that you can use to complete a task. You then practice among the teacher and your fellow students. Interestingly, when the boat docks at the port, the whole group would then go on a mission to talk to strangers using what they just learned. Similarly, I wish schools would follow this type of scheme. If this can’t be adopted by classroom exams, at least just let each student pick a random topic, and try to express his/ her ideas to any other English speaker. The point here is about using the language practically, and discovering how much more you can do each time.
When you have reached a certain level in a language, what kind of test would be best for you? I have tried different language proficiency tests, and my advice is first to forget the tests which ask you to pick a level. Because if you don’t pass, does that mean you’re one level lower? Not necessarily. And you won’t even get a certificate. A test is supposed to help you understand where your level sits, not confuse you into choosing an unsuitable level, then waste more money to try again and again. When there are 5 or 6 levels like JPLT and CEFR, it just complicates things having to try to find the “right” level. Language learning is a continuous process. Consequently, only a continuous scoring system can best represent it.
Second, generally speaking international tests are more useful if you’d ever consider going abroad. Here are some international English tests you can take: TOEIC, TOEFL and IELTS. These tests will give you a score with which you know where you are, how much you can improve, and that is the certificate. You can look up your level, as each score corresponds to a level in different systems.
Something to keep in mind is what your goal is with that language. TOEIC is a test for business English which consists of multiple choices only, no writing nor speaking tests. TOEFL is for studying in America, while IELTS is for entering schools, applying for a job, or for immigration in British commonwealth nations like the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It really depends. For example, if you’re going to be a university exchange student, maybe the grades from your former English classes would already suffice.
Lastly, I hope this article can be of any help to you, or to people around you. Please share with whomever might need it.
Tester for TOEFL
GEPT Intermediate listening, reading and speaking tests with full marks
English Teacher @ KM101
Chinese/ English Tutor
Profesora en Escuela Oficial de Idiomas
早期很多人問我是怎麼學英文的，我不知道怎麼解釋，這幾年才發現是因為動機不同。我從來不是為了考試而學，因為小時候到了很多外國人的教會，對他們好奇，希望和他們深入交談。而學校的教育，只是加強了我對這個語言的印象，而對已經形成的語感，考試自然不是問題，只是一個程度上的確認。如果能的話，考試測的不應該是你背了多少單字、記了多少文法，而是在行動中測試使用語言完成任務的程度。語言說穿了是為了溝通，那就應該用是否能有效溝通來做為測驗的標準。用錯文法，選錯字但是能讓對方了解，就應該有基本分。一方面鼓勵學生們多嘗試，不要怕犯錯，而且這才是反映真實的世界。和平號上的GET英文課程倡導的是task based learning以任務為基礎的學習，學習進行一項任務時需要的字句，除了和老師同學練習外，在船到站的時候，帶學生去街頭和陌生人大展身手。如果不能有一樣的環境，學校至少在考試時，可以讓學生帶著抽到的主題和不同的老師進行對話，盡量讓老師知道自己想表達什麼，重點就是要用，才能越挫越勇！
I held an event about stereotypes on Peace Boat which got me into trouble, but I will talk about that more in details later. Here I would just like to recap the event and share our ideas with a wider group of audience online.
Our panelists are:
♀from Japan, studied in Germany and worked in Korea 一位來自日本的曾到德國求學並在韓國工作過的女性
♀from Japan , studied in Hawaii and Australia, worked in various development projects in Asia, now living in Bangladesh 一位來自日本，曾至美國夏威夷、澳洲求學，工作項目常飛到亞洲偏遠地區，目前居住在孟加拉
♀from Taiwan, went to American church, studied in Belgium and Japan, currently living in Spain 一位來自台灣，曾在美國教會中長大，曾至比利時與日本求學，目前居住在西班牙的女性
♀African-American from The US, working in Japan 一位非裔美籍女性，在日本工作
♀from China, studied Japan and France, living in Japan but going for working holiday in Canada 一位來自中國的女性，至日本與法國求學，居住於日本，即將至加拿大打工度假
♂from The Netherlands, studied in Japan now living in Japan 一位來自荷蘭但在日本求學居住的男性
♂from Australia, working for Peace Boat in Japan and has been traveling the world for years 一位來自澳洲在日本和平號工作，環遊世界多年的男性
Let’s have a look how we can develop cultural tolerance from stereotype! 就來看看當天活動的內容吧！
Definition of Stereotype 什麼是刻板印象？
They are considered to be a group concept, held by one social group about another. They are often used in a negative or prejudicial sense. 刻板印象指某一个人類社會團體對於某些特定類型人、事或物的一種概括的看法。通常，刻板印象的大多數是負面且先入為主的，並不能夠代表每個屬於這個類型的人事物都擁有這樣的特質。
Generalization helps us make sense of the complex world. 以偏概全 普遍化幫助我們理解這個複雜的世界。
Rather than imposing certain stereotype onto others, let’s ask about their personal opinions. 在啟動刻板印象前，我們最好還是先聆聽一下對方的個人見解
By understanding more, we can live among different cultures with more ease. 通過深入了解刻板印象，我們可以更加輕鬆自在穿梭于異文化中
What’s Beauty? 什麼是美? 什麼膚色？什麼樣的身形才美？
Afraid of getting dark vs. sun bathing 怕晒黑 vs. 享受陽光 Whitening product vs. tanning product 美白/小麥肌護膚產品 (中文：一白遮三醜) Macho man vs. pretty boy 肌肉男/美男子 Standard of beauty evolves over time 審美觀就好像流行，是依環境一個不斷改變的過程
Cubby Lady Yang from Tang dynasty, “schoon” = clean = pretty in Dutch 胖胖楊貴妃是唐朝的美人，荷文中「乾淨」就是美 You can see from those western classical paintings, pale white skinned and chubby were considered as beautiful as they were people with high status. They had pale skin because they didn’t have to work outside in the sun and had enough food. But now people want to be fit! 西方古典藝術畫可以看出，早期白皮膚、胖胖的就是白富美/帥的象徵，因為不需要去大太陽底下幹活 (Asia is like that today? 1-2 generation behind after industrialization 亞洲目前還是如此，是因為工業革命後，與西方有一到兩代差距？) Prince charming/ heroes rescuing girls to man supporting power ladies, such as “Frozen” 連動畫片的男性也由英雄救美到一個比較平等支持的角色
Conclusion: You are beautiful in your time and with your own definition! 眼光世代不同，大家都可以是俊男美女！
Gender Stereotype 性別刻板印象
□ Girls play with dolls and boys play with robots 女生玩洋娃娃，男生玩機器人
其實是你給小朋友玩什麼，他就玩什麼吧… In fact, the kids play whatever you give them.
□ Men provide income for the family while women stay home with kids 男主外，女主內
很多地方是雙薪家庭請清潔工來打掃家裡…感覺是上一代的想法。 There are many working couples hiring house cleaning service. Is this outdated?
□ Westerners believe Asian women to be gentle and obedient 西方人認為東方女性都是溫柔順從的
是因為西貢小姐這電影嗎？ Is it from the film/ musical “Miss Saigon”?
□ Guys should pay for girls on a date 約會時，男生要買單
可是都讓他買單，女生覺得有失自主身份。一位男士則是因為從小家庭教育覺得應該怎麼做。另一位男士認為，應該是和你好朋友出去的感覺，應該互相！ If we let the men pay, it’s like we’re not independent. I don’t like that. There’s one man simply does it because he was taught to do so. Another guy said, it should be like going out with your good friend and you wouldn’t want to take advantage of your friend, right?
Region stereotype 地區刻板印象
Africans can play sport and sing well 非洲人多運動健將且喜愛高歌
非裔的朋友覺得很不公平，這不代表他們沒有付出相當的努力，他們也是人，不應該被視為像動物。 African decedent might think it’s unfair towards them. They also work hard for things and should not be seen as “animal-like”.
Latin people dance well 拉丁人個個是舞蹈高手
也有不會跳的，真的！但跳舞從小是社交的一部分。 There are some that can’t dance, trust me. But it’s true that dancing is part of social life since childhood.
Asians are good at studying 亞洲人皆勤勉擅求學
比較book smart, not street smart，很多是一直逼小孩唸書的結果，成長成沒均衡發展的書呆子?！
French are romantic 法國人天性浪漫
有嗎？在哪？ Really? 是說和德國人比起來比較不拘禁，是真的。而且巴黎髒… Compared to their German neighbors, they are more free, yes! And Paris is not a clean city…
Japanese are polite and punctual 日本人的形象是有禮守時
但他們多在內心、私底下說你壞話，只是表面上的和善 But they often talk ill behind your back, the peace might very likely be pretentious!
Chinese and Dutch are cheap/ frugal 華人和荷蘭人有節儉持家的傳統
真的，務實呀！Practical! If they can bike they won’t take cars but also because the fuel is more expensive, same for the public transport! Someone would bike to Belgium border and take a train from there instead as it’s cheaper. 如果能騎單車就騎單車，部分原因也是因為汽油費和大眾交通工具費用都比鄰國高。有人住荷蘭會先騎單車到比利時邊境去搭車，因為比較便宜。
Culture stereotype 文化刻板印象
People with tattoo are related to gangster 身上有刺青的人多是幫派份子
In Japan, you can’t enter hot springs if you have tattoo. 在日本有刺青不能去泡湯 But it’s also for self-expression 但很多人只是用它來表現自我
European men are gentlemen 歐洲男士有紳士風度
Where are those guys? Tell me where I can find them! At times, some men think they should let women do things on their own or it’s not gender equality. 有嗎？我怎麼找不到，誰來幫我開車門?有些人覺得不讓女性自己來的話是不尊重她，歐洲重視男女要平等
Westerners enjoy the present, no money saved 西方人享受當下，不思將來，沒有儲蓄概念
But do you know most Belgians will save to have a house of their own? 但你知道大部份的比利時人都有自己的房子嗎？ There’s an expression “having bricks in the stomach”
Key Takeaways 總結
From a diverse group of panel speakers, we demonstrated that each individual can have different voices in the world. 通過和嘉賓座談，我們想要表明每一個人都是獨立個體，有自己的見解。
Stereotypes can be neutral and it is just one way to look at things. 刻板印象可以是中性的，它只是其中一種對事物的認知方式
Remember, you can make your own definition too! 請記住：你可以按照自己的理解做出定義！