英語小魔女傳功密笈

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1999 / 10月

文‧陳淑美 圖‧薛繼光


曾以 GMAT 世界第一高分被封為「英文小魔女」的鮑佳欣,現已自美國哈佛大學學成歸來,在麥肯錫顧問公司任職外,還在TVBS電視台、台北之音電台主持英語節目。她的厲害英語是怎樣學來的?在她學英語的過程中讀過什麼英語雜誌,對她有什麼幫助?


雖說人人都認為鮑家兩個英語呱呱叫的女兒佳慧、佳欣聰慧靈巧,得天獨厚,鮑媽媽卻一直強調她倆「沒有天份,尤其是佳欣,有今天的英語能力全靠努力」。

「發音標準是英語學習的關鍵,」鮑媽媽認為。從小開始,鮑媽媽就苦心經營女兒的英語環境,小學一、二年級趁台灣功課還沒那麼緊時先送美國念小學,寒暑假回台灣補漏掉的一學期功課,三年級後倒過來,寒暑假赴美上暑期班,同時買下學期的英語課本回來請家教老師上課。鮑媽媽會先查字典打下所有單字生詞的英譯,第二天姊妹倆得全數背下,並且能活用造句。

媽媽還想辦法訓練兩姊妹膽量,例如到有歌星駐唱的西餐廳,媽媽會鼓勵兩女上台獻唱英文歌,甚至在餐廳吃飯,看到老外在鄰桌,鮑媽媽便會要女兒上前「搭訕」,聽力、口語就這樣訓練出來。

國中開始,鮑媽媽又鼓勵兩姊妹參加英語演講比賽,而在每回演講前,只要有訪客,老媽一定要姊妹們臨場表演一番。可以想見,佳欣佳慧對之後美國研究所的任何討論辯論都不再緊張了!

最佳學英文良藥:鼓勵

這樣看似斯巴達的教育並未遭致姊妹反彈,「是因為『愛的策略』,」鮑媽媽笑著說。從小常抱著女兒又親又摟的,誇獎她們「英語厲害,念得好好聽」,「有時甚至跟她們撒嬌,像要她們多背幾個單字就說:唉呀,媽媽不小心多查了嘛﹗」

念美國教科書之外,每年鮑媽媽還會帶兩姊妹到美國買書,由姊妹們選擇自己有興趣的讀物,「讓她們自己選才會讀,」鮑媽媽說,故事、小說、雜誌等都曾伴隨姊妹長大。姊妹們常「偷」看英文小說到半夜,一點也不覺得自己在「讀」英文,英文卻不知不覺進步了。

從歷年的選書心得,鮑佳欣建議,儘量讓孩子自己選書。如果英語已有一定程度,可選字彙、情節都豐富的小說,也不妨訂份自己想看的原文雜誌。像她們在國、高中看「Teen」,都是十幾歲小孩愛的衣服、化妝等;男生喜歡運動可以看「Baseball」、「Basketball」等雜誌。當然,台灣的英語雜誌有些也不錯,「能不能跟生活結合、用得上,是選擇的重要考慮,」鮑佳欣說,這也是她現在主持英語電視節目撰寫教材的要點。

英語雜誌之外,必須配合像錄音帶、光碟等有聲媒材學英語,鮑媽媽指出,佳欣佳慧小時候最愛聽英語灰姑娘錄音帶,聽了沒多久,姊妹們不僅背起來,還能演出呢。

但一般家庭並沒有能力像鮑家這樣培養小孩,又怎樣幫孩子呢?

鮑媽媽說,本身英文程度好不好並不重要,重要的是關心孩子,願意花時間陪她們念英文,「像佳慧、佳欣學法文、德文,我也不懂,但常要求她們念、講給我聽,真心覺得她們那樣軟軟甜甜的語音真是好聽,她們也就念得更起勁了,」她說。

原來「英文小魔女」的魔法無他,「興趣和努力」是也;作父母的也就是盡力幫孩子培養興趣,營造努力的氣氛。怎麼樣,你想讓孩子成為英語高手嗎?鮑家的「魔法」或可偷學一二?

p.38

兩姊妹從小學開始,鮑媽媽每天也「做功課」,為她們查字典,再打字來讓姊妹背生字跟解釋。這是從小學開始,姊妹們的英語「魔鬼」作業。

p.39

「英語小魔女」鮑佳欣(中)五歲時形容嚴格督促英語的媽媽是「巫婆」,但現在和台大醫學院畢業的姊姊鮑佳慧可受益匪淺,反過來成了鮑媽媽的英語發音老師。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

English Learning Secrets from an "English Whiz"

Jackie Chen /photos courtesy of Hsueh Chi-kuang /tr. by Scott Williams

Nicknamed the "English whiz" when she received a perfect score on the GMAT, Jenny Pao has returned to Taiwan after completing her studies at Harvard University. Now, in addition to working for McKinsey and Co. Consulting, she hosts English language programs on TVBS and Voice of Taipei. How did she acquire such outstanding English? How did reading English-language magazines help her in her English studies?


Most people believe that the outstanding English of the Pao family's two daughters, Joy and Jenny, must be the result of natural talent, but their mother disagrees. Mrs. Pao emphatically states, "It's not natural talent. Their English, particularly Jenny's, is entirely the result of hard work."

"The key to learning English is proper pronunciation," opines Mrs. Pao. Beginning when they were children, Mrs. Pao strove to provide her daughters with an English-language environment. She took advantage of the light workload in the first two years of primary school in Taiwan to send her daughters to the US for schooling. The girls used their winter- and summer-vacation trips back home to catch up on the Taiwanese course-work they had missed. When they reached the more difficult third grade, Mrs. Pao changed her approach, putting the girls in school in Taiwan and sending them to the US on their vacations. In addition, each semester Mrs. Pao bought the English textbooks used in the American curriculum, and hired a tutor to go through them with the girls. Mrs. Pao herself would go through these texts with a dictionary to create daily vocabulary lists for daughters. The next day, she would test them on the new vocabulary, checking their knowledge of the definitions and ability to use the words correctly in sentences.

Mrs. Pao also sought ways to ensure her daughters would not be shy or reserved. For example, she took the girls to Western restaurants with bands where she then encouraged the girls to get up on stage and sing in English. And if she happened to spot a foreigner at an adjacent table during dinner, she would push the girls to go chat, thus improving their listening comprehension and ability to speak colloquially.

When the girls began middle school, she began training them for English-language speech competitions. If a guest happened to visit before such a competition, the girls would practice their speeches on him. Not only did the girls win a number of awards, they also became comfortable speaking on topics relevant to a number of fields of graduate study.

Encouragement the best medicine

In spite of the seemingly Spartan nature of the girls' educational regimen, they didn't rebel. Smiling, their mother attributes this to her "strategy of love." She explains that she always showered the girls with hugs and kisses, and praised them for how good their English was. "Sometimes I would even act a little silly with them. For example, when I gave them some extra vocabulary to learn, I might tell them, 'Oops! I wrote a few extra by accident!'"

In addition to providing the girls with American textbooks, Mrs. Pao also took them to the US to buy books, letting them choose whatever interested them. Mrs. Pao says, "They'd only read what they chose for themselves," so they grew up with stories, novels and magazines. They'd often secretly stay up half the night reading, never for a moment thinking they were "studying" English. But their English improved.

Based on her years of choosing books for herself, Jenny Pao recommends letting children choose their own books. If they already have a foundation in English, she suggests letting them choose novels, which have a great deal of vocabulary and interesting plots. She also recommends letting kids get subscriptions to magazines which interest them. Pao says that when she was in middle school and high school, she read Teen magazine, which features articles on things teenage girls love-clothes and make-up. For boys who enjoy sports, Baseball and Basketball are now available in Taiwan. Naturally, some of Taiwan's own English-language magazines are also good. "You've got to consider whether it ties into their lives and is something they can use." Pao says that these are her own criteria when choosing teaching materials for her TV program.

In addition to magazines, kids learning English need some audio input-tapes or CD-ROMs. Mrs. Pao reflects that when her daughters were young, they loved to listen to the story of Cinderella. Before long, they not only had the story memorized, but liked to perform it as well.

But what can ordinary families do? Most don't have the resources or English ability to follow Mrs. Pao's program exactly.

Mrs. Pao says that a parent's own English abilities are not that important. Instead, the key is showing the children that they care for them-spending time with them when they study English. She says, "Joy and Jenny also studied French and German. I can't speak French or German, but I encouraged them to study and asked them to speak to me in these languages. I let them know that I really thought the languages sounded nice. As a result, they studied even harder."

Ultimately, the "English whiz's" tricks to learning English are nothing more than interest in the subject and hard work. Parents, then, should strive to develop their children's interest in the subject and encourage diligence. Do you want your child to be an English pro? Perhaps you can take a page from the Pao family's book.

p.38

When the Pao sisters were in primary school, their amother also began doing her own homework, making up lists of vocabulary and definitions for the girls to memorize.

p.39

When "English whiz" Jenny Pao was five, she used to call her mother a witch for pushing her to study English. Now she and her sister Joy, a graduate of Taiwan University Medical School, can appreciate what they gained from this early study of English, and return the favor, correcting their mother's English pronunciation.

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