Sunday, March 3, 2013

"A Critical Discourse Analysis of Li Yang's 'Crazy English': A Look at the English Movement in Mainland China" at Pitt, March 6.

Those on or around the University of Pittsburgh's campus, and with an interest in Asian English as a Foreign Language [EFL] studies, might be interested in Rachel McTernan's March 6 presentation "A Critical Discourse Analysis of Li Yang's 'Crazy English': A Look at the English Movement in Mainland China". McTernan is an MA Candidate in East Asian Studies, and "Crazy English" is a variety of EFL education in China designed by Li Yang in which "students practice his technique by going behind buildings or on rooftops and shouting English" as an alternative to the rigidity of rote memorization and teaching-for-tests. It got some exposure around here during the Beijing Olympics; here's a bit of one of his gatherings:

Personally I've never been a fan of it as a serious educational tool. English is rendered ridiculous in a lot of Asian EFL contexts already, and encouraging students to shout it and divorce it further from reality only amplifies the gulf between English as a subject and English as a language. One of the shortcomings of conversation courses in many East Asian classrooms is the lack of authentic models: whether it's awkward textbook dialogues, or teachers overexaggerating cadence and pronunciation, or classes reciting single lines out of context. "Crazy English" does nothing to alleviate these three, and while it's amusing as a novelty act, I don't think it will ever gain much traction with serious students.

Ms. McTernan's presentation is at 2:00 pm, says the University Center for International Studies, in room 4217 of Posvar Hall (campus map).

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