Bathing in Chinese language and culture

first_imgIn the wake of expanding globalization, the new director of Harvard’s Chinese Language Program is prepping the University’s next generation of students to compete in an international arena increasingly dominated by the growing economic and military power of China.That road to competitiveness, she says, requires both linguistic and cultural expertise.“America’s well-being is tied to the role that China plays in today’s world, and so learning its language — but also its culture — is so important,” said Jennifer Li-Chia Liu, who is focusing on those topics to help develop an increasingly integrated pedagogy within Harvard’s curriculum. “I want to break the boundaries to see how language instruction can be part of the foundational tools of all pursuits.”Liu’s innovative approach builds on the efforts of Diana Sorensen, Harvard’s dean of arts and humanities, who has expanded the language curriculum in recent years to include bridge courses that connect Harvard’s language offerings with content such as history, art, and culture. Liu said her work is also based on the success of her Harvard colleague, Professor of Chinese Literature Xiaofei Tian, and her content-based courses including “Art and Violence in the Cultural Revolution,” which includes readings and discussions in Chinese.This fall, Liu will teach “Chinese in Social Sciences” that will mirror topics covered by Michael Szonyi, professor of Chinese history. Liu’s students will sit in on Szonyi’s lectures about the society and culture of late imperial China in English, but will be required to write a summary of the class discussions for Liu in Chinese. Next spring, Liu will help students appreciate some of China’s written masterpieces, along with David Der-wei Wang, Edward C. Henderson Professor of Chinese Literature. Course work will involve writing research papers in Chinese, and presenting them via videoconferencing to faculty members at universities in Taiwan and China.That type of intense language training needs to be “built into the system,” said Liu, “so that students see that this is part of their whole learning, not just something else that they have to fulfill.”Liu’s multilingual childhood informed her interest in languages and cultures. Growing up in Taiwan, she spoke Taiwanese and Mandarin, and developed some understanding of Cantonese. English classes were a requirement in middle school. But she never imagined herself pursuing a career studying foreign languages. Later, in high school, her exposure to great English literature, creative writing, and rhetoric began to unlock the language’s nuance and meaning and fueled her desire to know more. She majored in foreign languages and literatures at National Taiwan University and headed to the United States shortly after graduation in 1986 to pursue a master’s degree in comparative literature at the University of Oregon.“By the time I graduated, I realized I had learned so much about great American literature, but I had never really experienced American culture.”Not long after her arrival, she changed course. While working as a language instructor, she shifted her focus from the rigorous exploration of books to the creation of teaching methods and practices. Teaching, she said, tapped into her desire to help others “acquire fundamental concepts and language skills.”“I found my passion in dealing with human beings.”Much of that new work involved developing computer models to help students learn Chinese characters and read Chinese texts. She received a master’s degree in instructional systems technology in 1988, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, specializing in applied linguistics and foreign language education, in 1992.Liu landed next at Indiana University. During her 19-year tenure, she founded its Center for Chinese Language Pedagogy. And with the backing of the U.S. government, she created the Indiana University Chinese Language Flagship program. The initiative, part of the National Security Education Program of the Department of Defense, is an intense language training program that includes accelerated learning, a year of study abroad involving a semester of enrollment in a Chinese university, and a four-month, fulltime internship, as well as demanding courses in a variety of disciplines.She wanted, Liu said, to “design something transformative for language education.”The results prove that she has. Many graduates of the program have chosen to pursue advanced degrees in China, while others have remained there to work.She hopes to emulate that type of training at Harvard, continuing to merge language and content and helping Harvard students to immerse themselves in another culture before graduation. “Training and preparing students to have a real, authentic experience before they graduate is critically important,” said Liu. “With today’s global society, this opens doors and worlds for them.”And no place is better suited for the goals she is planning than Harvard, said Liu, who is looking forward to collaborating with colleagues across the University.“It’s extremely stimulating and exciting, especially given the kind of intellectual culture it fosters,” she said.Liu, a self-admitted workaholic, will soon leave for China, where she will head the Harvard Beijing Academy, an intensive, nine-week language immersion program.While she “gets a lot of fun out of work,” she also enjoys crisscrossing the globe with her two teenage children, who have traveled extensively with her, exploring other languages and cultures.“That’s the greatest reward,” said Liu. “I want my children to grow up internationally minded, with an interest in peoples and cultures and languages from all over the world.”last_img read more

Ammerman sisters keeping each other in check

first_imgFreshman Brittany Ammerman has already had a huge impact on the Badger offense with four goals and three assists in four games.[/media-credit]Siblings are notorious for being competitive with each other in basically everything. But not the Ammerman sisters.Now in her third season, junior Brooke Ammerman has proven to be a huge asset to the Wisconsin women’s hockey team. Freshman forward Brittany Ammerman is suiting up in cardinal and white alongside her sister, showing talent on the ice runs in the family.Last year Brooke led the team with 38 points and 20 goals and carried a target on her back all season. This year she’s starting out almost where she left off, with four points through four games. But little sister Brittany may be stealing her thunder with four goals and seven points on the season already.While Brooke may not be the Ammerman scoring the goals right now, she’s still proud of her little sister and is having fun with the experience.“It’s really fun,” Brooke said. “I’m really happy that she’s doing well and got those goals out of the way so the pressure is off. It’s really fun to play together. We’ve only played together once before. It’s easy to find each other, it’s easy to talk to each other. We’re sisters so we don’t take anything personally, so it’s really fun that way.”These sisters may be on the same team now, but growing up they didn’t have the opportunity. They both fell in love with hockey and discovered their talent for the sport, but they didn’t want to compare themselves to each other so they made a pact.“We got pretty good at hockey when we were younger and we made a pact that we wouldn’t compare each other and our family understood that,” Brooke said. “It made it easier for us to play with each other. It’s been pretty fun. It’s always joking. I’m really happy she was able to get those goals and have a great start to her freshman year and her career her.”There’s no denying it, both of the Ammermans have impressive resumes.In Brooke’s freshman year Wisconsin claimed its third national title in four years. Brooke put up 54 points with 27 goals that year, opening the door for what is already an impressive college career.Head coach Mark Johnson noted their achievements and how impressive the sisters are.“When they were growing up and up until they came here they were good players,” Johnson said of the sisters. “They were able to score goals and score at different levels. Brooke came in her freshman year and obviously showcased that she can put the puck in the net. If you ask her last year probably wasn’t a great year but she still ended up with 20 goals.”Brittany played with the 2009 U18 World Champion Team USA where she scored the first goal of the gold medal game. Not only does she have a knack for putting the puck in the net, she grew up surrounded by hockey.“This year Brittany came in with a similar resume,” Johnson said. “When she played for me in the under-18 tournament she scored goals. She’s showing right now in the early part of the season that she can get the puck in the net. If you have that disease as a player it’s a pretty good one to have.”With impressive resumes in tow, the sisters hope to find themselves and their team fighting for a national title.But Brittany feels like she wouldn’t have had so much success in her career so far if it weren’t for her older sister leading the way.“I think it’s great. I mean I couldn’t have done it without her because I’ve learned so much from her and have been able to watch her and play with her,” Brittany said. “We’re competitive on the ice when we go out against each other and work together, but we don’t compare each other ever.”This isn’t Johnson’s first time coaching sisters. While he has yet to meet Alev and Derya Kelter he coached Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux on the Olympic team last year.Johnson believes having a sibling in the same sport is helpful and makes things more competitive, and that pushes them and only helps make them better.“I think it’s helpful in regards if you have a sister playing or a twin sister playing because then you have somebody to hang out with, somebody that can push you, somebody that you can go to the rink with, somebody you can do off ice conditioning with,” Johnson said. “It probably makes it easier to have a sibling that’s close that likes what you like to do so you can push one another.”last_img read more