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[翻译]新闻传真 - 亚洲国家在国际学校测试中排名靠前

来源:慢速英语   时间:2014-01-27 11:08:59

Hello again and welcome back.  This is As It Is, from VOA Learning English.  I’m June Simms.

Millions of people around the world want to learn American English.  In recent years, more and more people have set out to learn not just the standard language of the United States, but its informal speech as well.  Today, we hear about slang and “street talk” coming up later in the show.

But first, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released its latest report on the state of education around the world.  Faith Lapidus has the story.

Asian Countries Top International School Test

The Program for International Student Assessment tested students in 65 countries on three subjects: mathematics, reading and science.

Asian countries outperformed the rest of the world in math.  The United States had below average test scores, with no change from earlier tests.

In fact, the 15-year-olds from Shanghai rated at a level of two and one-half years of schooling above the top students in the United States.

The highest math scores were in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, and South Korea.  The next five were Macao, Japan, Liechtenstein, Belgium and Switzerland.  Organizers say the higher scores resulted from parental involvement, better teachers and higher expectations.

Jenny Jung has attended schools in South Korea and the United States.  She says her classes in South Korea lasted from 8 o’clock in the morning until 10 at night.  Then she often met with a teacher for a private lesson.

“It’s very competitive there because it’s a relative grading system.  So instead of like here, it’s an absolute grading system, where if you get over a 90, you get an A.  If you get over an 80, you get a B.  But in Korea, only like the top percentages can get an A.”

In the new report, the U.S. rated below average in math, and close to average in reading and science.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he wants to increase early childhood education and get more high quality teachers.

“Virtually every one of the high performing nations attracts their teachers from the top 30 percent of the college graduating class and many only from the top 10 percent.”

Mr. Duncan has called on policy makers to make the right choices.

“We know intellectually what the right thing is to do.  What we have lacked is the political will and the sense of urgency to take education to the next level.”

But the study shows money might not be the only answer.  The US spends about $115,000 to educate each child.  That is more than most countries.  The Slovak Republic spends less than half that amount, but it and the US had similar test scores.

Angel Gurria is the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  He warns the United States of what might happen if the scores do not rise.

“It shows that we have a lot of homework.  It shows that somebody else is doing much better than us and if this continues, over the years, they are going to take away our cheese.  Because this translates into productivity, it translates into competitiveness, it translates into exports, it translates into jobs, it translates into well-being.  So this is not about just comparing the grades of students.”

Some observers have criticized the study for comparing small areas of the world to large countries.  They also say the test lacks an examination of creative or critical thinking.

The one area in which U.S. students rated highest was confidence in their math abilities.  The job now for educators is to make those feelings carry over into test scores.  I’m Faith Lapidus.

And I’m June Simms.  You are listening to As It Is from VOA Learning English.

Demand Grows for Classes in English Slang

Many people who learn English as a second language think they have a good understanding of it, that is, until they watch an American TV show or speak to someone from the United States.  Then they realize there is a lot they do not understand.  Some are coming to the United States to learn American slang, which is rarely taught in textbooks back home.

Most people come to Venice Beach in California seeking sun and entertainment.  But, for Hussain al Shahri of Saudi Arabia and his classmates, the beach is a classroom.  Their teachers are strangers they meet on the beach.

“I have an assignment to talk with people, native speakers like you, to know and to learn how the people in public or on the street talk.  So I want to ask you about a couple of words, if you do not have a problem to answer me what does it mean in slang.” 

Al Shahri is taking a class on American “street talk” and slang at the University of California Los Angeles.  Field trips like this one, combined with classroom discussions, make up most of his learning experience.

“If you want to know this culture, you have to communicate with people and socialize.  So slang language is the only way to communicate and socialize with people.”

Knowing the culture also means learning from American media, says “Street Talk” instructor Ryan Finnegan.

“American movies are global and American music.  So they hear these words, and they hear them used a lot, and they see maybe people laughing at those words, and they want to understand what’s funny about that.”

Ryan Finnegan uses TV shows to teach his students slang.  Student Zhang Jiu Hua says the English she learned in China was very different.

“It makes my English style more academic and formal and a little bit stiff.  I don’t want to be that way.”

Zhang says she is now able to speak more casually and use humor with American slang and idioms.  She is also learning about differences between Chinese and American culture.

“There is a slang I love: ‘drop dead gorgeous.’  In my culture, I still remember when I was a child my parents told me ‘don’t use dead.  It’s very rude and unlucky.’  And when I say that word ‘drop dead gorgeous,’ I’m curious.  Can I use that?  Actually I love that word.”

Finnegan says there are some issues to teaching slang.

“Slang is extremely regional and extremely dynamic.  So the slang from even one year ago is different from the slang of right now.”

Judy Tanka develops learning plans at UCLA Extension’s American Language Center.  She says instructional materials need to improve as demand for slang and idiom classes grows.

“A lot of materials get outdated very quickly and it’s very expensive to republish books frequently with updates, and this is why online materials will be very popular.” 

With a working knowledge of American slang, Zhang Jiu Hua will return to China and use what she has learned in her career.  Hussain al Shahri will be better able to fit into American life as he continues his education in the United States.

That is As It Is.  I’m June Simms.

Have a question or comment about this show?  We would love to hear from you.  Email us at learningenglish@voanews.com.

VOA world news is coming up at the beginning of the hour, Universal Time.

全世界数百万人想要学习美国英语。近年来,越来越多的人开始不仅学习美国的标准英语,还学习不正式的语言。今天,我们在节目里了解俚语和“街谈巷语”。

不过首先,经济合作与发展组织发布了最新的世界教育状况报告。

亚洲国家在国际学校测试中排名靠前

《国际学生能力评估计划》测试了 65 个国家的学生 3 个学科:数学、阅读和科学。

亚洲国家在数学方面胜过世界上所有地区。美国低于平均分,与之前的测试结果没有区别。

事实上,上海 15 岁学生的教育水平比美国学生最高水平提前 2.5 年。

数学成绩最高的有上海、新加坡、香港、台北和韩国。接下来 5 名是澳门、日本、列支敦士登、比利时和瑞士。组织者称,较高的分数来源于父母的参与、更好的师资和更高的期望。

Jenny Jung 在韩国和美国上过学。她说,她在韩国的课程是从早上 8 点到晚上 10 点,此外还有一个私人授课老师。

“那里的竞争非常激烈,因为是它是一种相对得分制度。不像这里,是绝对得分制度,也就是说如果你得 90 分,就是 A;如果得 80 分,就是 B。但在韩国,只有前面一定比例的是 A。”

在这份新报告中,美国的数学排名低于平均水平,而阅读和科学则接近平均水平。教育部长阿恩•邓肯说,他希望增加儿童早教,并且增加高水平教师。

“事实上,每一个得分较高的国家都是从大学毕业班最好的 30%里吸收老师,很多是最好的 10%。”

邓肯呼吁决策者做出正确选择。

“我们知道明智的选择是什么。我们欠缺的是提高教育水平的政治意愿和紧迫感。”

但是,该研究显示,资金并不是唯一的答案。美国在每个孩子身上的教育花费是11.5 万美元。这比大多数国家都高。斯洛伐克共和国的花费还不足这个数量的一半,但它和美国的分数差不多。

安赫尔•古里亚是经济合作与发展组织的秘书长。他提醒美国如果分数无法提高会发生什么。

它显示我们有很多任务要做。它显示另外有些人比我们做得好很多,而假以时日,这些国家将会拿走我们的‘蛋糕’。因为这会转化成生产力、转化成竞争力、转化成出口、转化成工作、转化成幸福。因此,这不仅仅是在比较学生之间的分数。

一些观察者批评该研究是拿世界上一些小的地区和大的国家作比较。他们还表示,这项测试缺乏对创造性思维或批判性思维的检验。

美国学生排名最高的一块是他们对自己数学能力的信心。教育者现在的工作就是要把这种感受转化成测试分数。

对英文俚语课程的需求增加

很多把英语作为第二语言学习的人认为自己对它有了不错的理解,直到他们收看了美国电视节目、或与美国人对话之后,他们意识到自己有很多不理解的地方。一些人来到美国,学习他们课本里很少会教的美国俚语。

大多数人来加利福尼亚的威尼斯海滩是享受阳光和娱乐。但是,对沙特阿拉伯的 Hussain al Shahri 以及他的同学来说,这片海滩是一个教室。他们的老师就是在这片海滩上遇到的陌生人。

“我的任务是和人们交谈——像您这样的本地人——去了解和学习人们在公共场合或街上的交谈。因此,我想要问你一些词语,没问题的话请帮我回答它们在俚语中的意思。”

Al Shahri 正在加州大学洛杉矶分校上一个美国“街谈巷语”和俚语的课程。像这样的实地考察,结合课堂讨论,就是他的大部分学习内容。

“如果你想要了解这个文化,你必须与人交流、交往。所以俚语是与人交流和交往的唯一途径。”

“街谈巷语”的指导员 Ryan Finnegan 说,了解文化还可以从美国媒体上学习。

“美国电影是全球性的,还有美国音乐。因此,他们听到这些词,听到它们多次被用到,也许会看到人们因为一些话笑起来,他们会想要了解笑点在哪里。”

Ryan Finnegan 用电视节目教他的学生俚语。学生 Zhang Jiu Hua 说,她在中国学的英语非常不同。

“它使我的英语风格更学术、更正式,还有一点呆板。我不想那样。”

Zhang 说,她现在可以说得更随意,还可以用美国俚语和方言说些俏皮话。她还学到了中美文化的差异。

“有一个我喜欢的俚语:‘美死了’。在我们的文化中,我还记得小时候我父母告诉我‘不要用死字,它很不礼貌、很不吉利’。而当我说‘美死了’的时候,我很好奇,我能用它吗?实际上,我喜欢这个短语。”

Finnegan 说,教俚语有一些问题。

“俚语非常有区域性,非常动态。因此,哪怕一年前的俚语也可能和现在的不一样。”

Judy Tanka 在加州大学洛杉矶分校的扩展美国语言中心负责制定学习计划。她说,随着对俚语和方言课程需求的增加,教材也需要改进了。

“很多资料很快就过时了,而及时地、频繁地重印教材又很贵,这也是为什么在线资料很流行。”

在学到了美国俚语的应用知识后,Zhang Jiu Hua 将回到中国并在她的事业中使用她所学到的内容。Hussain al Shahri 能够更好地融入美国的生活了,他要在美国继续他的学业。