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2.  Skills that reduce risk

 

The moment overseas education is thought about, a quiet, subtle enemy, named Fantasy, comes on the scene.  Fantasy always fills in the unknown with marvelous thoughts and fulfilled wishes,

“Wah!  You’re a Stanford woman… what do we have to do to attract you to our company?”  

“Oh, Dartmouth graduate…Yes, we tend to admit Dartmouth graduates directly to our doctoral program.”  

Fantasy never says,

“Look!  It’s your chance to be one of those underemployed graduates who suffered through painful years of being in exile in Meiguo, and who’ll never, ever make back the cost.”

Combat Fantasy with Cold, Hard-Eyed Reality.  Can overseas education do something uniquely positive for the student in question?  Let’s be crude for a moment and imagine that students are more or less successful overseas, and think of a bell-type curve.  We could have

Top 20 %         Strong chance of graduate school or excellent job
Middle 60%     Decent outcome, down to underemployed
Bottom 20%     Underemployed, down to painful, hurtful experience

Sharply put, how to aim for the upper section of the group and avoid the bottom? 

 

English fluency   All instruction in the US, England and many other places is in full- speed English.  It’s the language in which students must express opinion, analysis and argument in elegantly readable prose.  It’s the language with which they must show leadership in small group and team exercises, common, unavoidable teaching formats.  Students compete with one another in English.  They must use English to paint word pictures, to assess complicated situations and offer analyses sometimes in strong, or tragic, or persuasive word pictures, sometimes in almost legal logic.  A few ESL courses is not a strong competitive background.  Be realistic about English.  Students who cannot readily produce expressive, grammatical English have an enduring handicap and limitation. 

Social skills, leadership  Social skills (plus English) are what let students unlock university life; allow links to be made with professors, with the myriad groups, clubs, societies that make the richness of university life.  High success students to the teachers, talk to the laowais, talk do things with the laowais.  The really great ones are selected as teaching assistants.  Many classes emphasize small group problem solving, motivating, leading, doing team activities (even in engineering projects), having innovative ideas, doing practical projects, testing ideas, building partnerships.  US students, if asked about Chinese students on campus, would express respect for their scholarship, but shake their heads at the way so many creep quietly from class to class until they can rejoin the Chinese-speaking colony of exiles.  They miss major parts of university life, growth and cultural experience.  

Intellectual curiosity  Top students want to know and want to master.  They enjoy projects, getting their minds around academic and applied academic challenges.  They don’t just live to get assignments done, nor primarily for the grades they get.

Other student qualities   Personal maturity, self discipline.  Student can manage self where there is low structure and strong distractions  Can present strong SAT/ACT scores; a strong transcript and evidence of leadership and organizing ability 

Some notes on specifics:  Grades are assigned in a specific way for each course; a percentage for pop quizzes, midterm exams, final exams, group projects, class participation, term papers, etc.  Know that distribution.  Bring stimulating questions to the professor’s office hours.  That’s a major door to knowledge and opportunity, because, remember, professors are overwhelmed and always need help with their research projects.  Other skills I emphasize are: 

Think of how the other person feels.  It’s a key in conversation and friendship.

Be a scribe, perhaps literally at the blackboard, reflecting a small group’s progress in  making and executing a plan.  An elementary flowchart that everyone can copy is ideal.
 
When you are working in a small group, make process comments as well as content comments, e.g., “The group hasn’t acknowledged any of the Blue Team’s suggestions…”  

Next, assuming the student has a good chance to be well up on the success distribution, exactly why is this student thinking of going overseas?  

 2.如何减少风险

一提到出国留学,我们的脑海里便会浮现出一个看似温顺但又狡猾的敌人---幻想。幻想往往让不明真相的我们充满奇异的想法和美好的憧憬。

 “哇!你是斯坦福大学的毕业生。我们应该怎么做才能让你选择到我们公司来呢?” 

“哦,达特茅斯大学的研究生呀。挺好,我们有意向直接录取达特茅斯大学的研究生读博。”

幻想绝不会对你说:

“听着!有许多人在美国游荡的这几年将是痛苦的经历,在毕业后依然找不到工作,连出国的成本都赚不回来。而你可能就是其中的一个。”

要接受残酷的现实,打败心中的幻想。那出国留学能否给正在考虑中的学生带来一些积极的信息呢?现在让我们不要想得太复杂,想像一下出国留学的学生中多少有些是成功的,可以用如下“钟型曲线图”表达。

上:20% 很有可能进入研究生院校或得到很好的工作
中:60% 结果还不错,不至于失业
下:20% 找不到工作,不失为一次惨痛的经历

简单地说,应该如何朝“上”靠拢,避免成为“下”的一员?

英文要流利。美国、英国和其他一些地区都用正常语速的英文上课。学生们必须用英语对一篇优美散文表达自己的观点、分析和论述,也必须用英语在小组讨论和团队作业中展现领导才能,因为这是国外十分普遍且不可避免的教学模式。学生们要用英语相互竞争,用英语对事物进行口头描述,有时还用强烈的或带有悲惨意味的及有说服力的语言来分析、评估一些复杂的情况,有时甚至要运用到法律推理。上了几堂英语课,并不能让你拥有巨大的竞争力。一定要清楚自己的英文实力。如果不能很好地用语法正确的英文表达自己的观点,你将遇到长久的阻力和限制。

具备社交能力和领导才能。拥有良好的社交能力(包括英文能力)可以让学生开启大学生活,让学生更好地和教授交流,参与众多的社团、俱乐部活动,进而丰富大学生活。老师们常(对中国学生)说要想成功就必须和“老外”交流,和“老外”共事。如果被选为助教,那就说明你真的很优秀。许多课程会强调小组解决问题,自我激励,重视领导能力和参与团队活动,甚至在工程学项目中也是如此。此外还要学会思维创新、脚踏实地、不断尝试和建立伙伴关系。当说起留美的中国学生时,美国学生会对他们取得奖学金的能力表示尊敬,但是对他们的处事方式纷纷摇头。中国学生总是悄悄地进入一个个教室听课,下课后又都回到了属于他们自己的空间,说起了中文。这样,他们会失去大学生活的重要部分——成长和文化体验。

具有求知欲:优等生们主动学习,想要掌握知识。他们喜欢参与各种项目,潜心于知识的应用和学术的挑战。他们学习不只是为了完成作业,也不主要为了获得成绩。

其他品质:个人成熟度和自律能力。来自大学的约束不多,并存在很多让人分心的事物,学生们应该自我管理,取得良好的考试成绩并有一份展现领导能力和组织能力的成绩证明。

注解:每门课的成绩以一定的方式分配:课堂测验、期中考试、期末考试、小组项目、课堂参与、学期论文等。对此学生应该有所了解。学生们还应该经常向教授讨教问题,那可是知识和机遇的大门,因为教授们都太忙了,总是需要有学生来帮助他们完成研究项目。其它我想强调的技能还有:

注意他人的感受。这对于沟通和交友都很关键。

做一个记录员,或许只是在黑板上记下小组的计划制定和执行的进程。制作一个每位组员都可以抄袭的基本流程表,这样就很理想了。 当你参与一个小组工作时,可记录项目进程或项目内容。如“本小组不同意蓝队提出的任何建议……”

接下来假设出国留学能帮助一个学生了解如何取得成功,那这就是他想要出国留学的原因吗?

 

【词汇点津】

subtle['sʌtl]  

a. 敏感的,精细的,狡猾的,稀薄的,精巧的,微妙的

例句:

This enabled us to see through their subtle scheme.

这使我们得以识破他们的诡计。

marvelous['mɑ:vləs]  

a. 令人惊异的,了不起的,不平常的

例句:

You have a marvelous gift for science.

你有科学方面的非凡天赋。

exile['eksail]  

n. 放逐,流放,被放逐者

vt. 放逐,流放,使背井离乡

例句:

They exiled Napoleon to the island of St. Helena.

他们把拿破仑放逐到圣赫勒拿岛。

 

prose [prəuz]  

n. 散文;单调

adj. 散文的;平凡的;乏味的

vi. 写散文;乏味地讲话

vt. 把……写成散文

例句:

 

His prose is everywhere a demonstration of a lucid style.

他的散文处处显示出一种明晰的风格。

 

 

creep [kri:p] 

vi. 爬行;蔓延;慢慢地移动;起鸡皮疙瘩

n. 爬行;毛骨悚然的感觉;谄媚者

例句:

Old age creeps upon one unawares.

老年在不知不觉中来临。

overwhelm[əuvə'hwelm]  

vt. 淹没,受打击,制服,压倒

例句:

He was overwhelmed with gratitude.

他不胜感激。

 

scribe [skraib]  

 

n. 书记,抄写员,作者,作家,划线器

vi. 担任抄写员

vt. 用划线器划

 

例句:

 

These palace records were copied out three and a half thousand years ago by an Egyptian scribe . 

这些宫廷的记录是三千五百年前一位埃及的抄写员抄出来的。

 

泰普林教授(Prof.Taplin)非常乐意与同学们进一步交流,为大伙儿解答相关的问题,欢迎与泰普林教授联系,邮箱地址   jrtaplin@verizon.net