Language Learning Is Hard? Not If You Follow Hari’s Way!
學不累!Hari教你學外語

21 Jan 2012


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Inside a café sat a young couple. Out of pure boredom, they were judging every customer entering the café, when a handsome foreign man emerged.
Girl: Wow, he’s so cute! *@ ­@*
Boy: Shhhh! He could hear you! ˊ_>ˋ
Girl: Oh relax! He can’t understand Mandarin. =^_^=
Then, the foreign man called out something to his companion in fluent Mandarin and walked away, leaving the girl with her jaw on the ground.
Have you had any embarrassing experience like this?

In this increasingly globalized world, many people know several languages. In fact, some of the foreign teachers and students on our campus speak far better Chinese than native Chinese speakers. Meet Hari, an Indian-born translation teacher from the Department of English, who has been working at UM for seven years. If you listen to Hari speak Mandarin without seeing his face, you would think he is some Chinese news broadcaster from CCTV.

咖啡店坐著一對無聊的情侶,每個進出的顧客都被他們品評一番,此時一外國男子站在門口。
女:哇~~好帥呀 *@ο@*
男:含蓄點…… ˊ_>ˋ
女:不怕啦,他聽不懂 =^_^=
此時,這位外國男子以流利普通話與同伴聊天,聽得這對男女目定口呆。
你,有過這樣的尷尬嗎?

在全球化的年代,不少人掌握兩至三種語言。特別是在澳大這所國際性的大學校園,別以為外國老師和同學聽不懂漢語,他們的普通話可能說得比你我還要字正腔圓,如已在澳大工作七年,教授中英翻譯課程的英文系老師何立慧(Hari),是土生土長印度人,但普通話說得像CCTV新聞主播,實在令人讚嘆。

 

Learning Chinese Like Crazy

“Tiananmen Square please, Comrade.” “Comrade? Nobody uses that word anymore.” This interesting dialogue occurred during Hari’s first visit to China in 1997. He addressed the taxi driver as “comrade” to be friendly, only to be teased by the driver. It was hardly his fault though. When he was studying Chinese in India, he only had four text books which were photocopies and full of outdated words and phrases like “comrade” and “people’s commune”. Hari describes the learning environment as very poor. He recalls that there were only a little over a hundred Chinese people in the whole India. With few opportunities to meet Chinese people and see Chinese words, Hari had to invent ways to practice Chinese. During his first two university years, he talked to himself in Mandarin every day like crazy, and parroted after news broadcasters on CCTV. It was not easy but Hari never felt it was a burden, because, says Hari, “I was madly in love with the language. The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in the environment and have exposure to the language through different channels. To put it simply, you can’t say what you haven’t heard, and you can’t write what you haven’t read.” Hari encourages students to make good use of UM’s multi-lingual environment for language learning.

瘋子般的學習法

「同志,我想去……」「什麼同志?!現在沒有人這樣說了。」1997年,Hari首次踏足中國,以為叫的士司機做同志很親切,結果被揶揄。沒辦法,他在印度讀本科時所用的中文書只有四本,而且是影印本,內容都是中國60年代的人和事,滿是同志、人民公社等字眼。Hari形容那時學習中文的條件非常差,整個印度只有百多個中國人,碰到他們和看到漢字的機會不多,所以他總是想方設法創造機會練習中文,大學頭兩年還像瘋子一樣天天跟自己說普通話,跟著中央廣播電台主播報新聞,就算很費勁也不覺得有壓力,因為:「我實在太想學了。學習語言最好是讓自己完全被這個環境包圍,從不同渠道接觸這種語言,簡而言之:沒聽過的說不出來,沒讀過的寫不出來。」Hari認為,現在學習外語的條件優越,大家應勇於嘗試,好好利用澳大的多語言環境學習。

 

Hari and his wife’s adopted twins were able to speak fluent English in less than a year

 

Don’t Multi-task

“Language learners tend to be over-ambitious in that they want to attend to several things at once, such as pronunciation, grammar and sentence structure, not knowing by doing that they are only distracting themselves,” says Hari. “It’s tiring to multi-task. Don’t do that. Just pay attention to one thing at a time.” Hari says that studies have shown that different languages occupy different regions of the human brain after a “guess-and-struggle” process, so he strongly advises language learners to avoid using bi-lingual dictionaries which make the brain associate each foreign word with an equivalent in the learner’s mother tongue. It’s also important not to limit language learning to text books. Hari advises language learners to watch foreign movies at least once a week and watch foreign TV programmes for at least half an hour a day, without looking at the subtitles. “You may feel bored from incomprehension at first, but if you keep doing it for several months, you’ll start to see the results. Language acquisition is a process of accumulation. You can’t master it overnight,” concludes Hari from his first-hand experience.

腳踏幾隻船很累

「學外語的人都有一個通病,就是同時兼顧發音、語法、句子結構是否正確,這樣精力太過分散,練發音就應只練發音,想看懂一篇文章就只要管意思,學語法就只注意結構,至於是什麼意思就不用管了,很多人『腳踏幾隻船』,結果很累。」根據神經語言學的研究,每種語言經過猜測和掙扎後在大腦成熟,然後形成獨立的區域,所以Hari不鼓勵使用雙語字典,形成滿腦子一對一的關係。此外,學習語言不能停留在課本上,他建議每周至少看一部外語電影,每天最少看半小時外語電視,重點是不能看字幕。Hari有感而發:「開始時會因為聽不懂而覺得無聊,但只要堅持幾個月就會看到成果。學外語是累積的過程,不能一蹴而就。」

 

A handmade gift by Hari’s students

Life-changing Posters

Hari has loved languages since childhood. Sometimes he tuned out the teachers in class and doodled the names of his classmates in different languages (did one of the names belong to a girl he had a secret crush on?). In the 1980s, Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee’s movies were all the rage in India. As many Indians were captivated by the charisma of the movie stars, Hari was fascinated with the Chinese words on those movie posters and dreamed about decoding the mysterious and beautiful language some day. To make his dream come true, Hari studied Chinese for his bachelor’s degree, and due to his outstanding performance, he was recommended by the State Education Commission of PRC (the predecessor of the Ministry of Education) to study ancient Chinese in Beijing for one year. Now, the most enjoyable thing for him is to be able to make a career out of his interest.

Do you still think learning a foreign language is hard? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Follow Hari’s way, and you can also succeed!

一張海報影響一生                       

Hari從小就喜歡學習不同語言,上課時不聽老師講課,但會用不同的文字寫同學的名字(按:會是暗戀的女同學的名字嗎?)。80年代,著名影星成龍和李小龍的電影一度於印度流行,不少人被明星深深吸引,Hari卻被印著成龍和李小龍的海報上的中文標語迷倒,令他夢想把中文的規律弄清楚。後來,Hari的本科選讀中文,成績出眾的他得到中國國家教委(現為國家教育部)推薦到北京留學一年,專門修讀古漢語。經過多年的努力,Hari現在能掌握漢語,還將興趣變成自己的專業,對他來說「實在太愉快了」。

你還在為學習外語而煩惱嗎?隨著Hari的腳步吧,你都能成功!

 

Source: My UM