Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What appearing on Adevarul can do for an otherwise moribund blog...


(Yesterday, for those who are not aware, a post I wrote last year about how the Romanian education system fails to really help kids who do not speak Romanian as a first language to speak Romanian well, was translated into Romanian and featured on the website of Adevarul newspaper here).  Made quite a difference to the number of visitors to this otherwise quiet little corner of the internet :-))

11 comments:

reccsman said...

glad we could contribute! cheers!

Anonymous said...
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Robert Andras said...

Hi Andy,

it was good to read in Andevarul the truth about how the education system doesn't work when it comes to learning Romanian for us, seclers. You have lots of interesting posts - I'll take some time in the close future to look around... meanwhile I'll add You to my circles, to see if something new comes up! ;)

All the best!

Robert

Robert Andras said...

Hi Andy,

it was good to read in Andevarul the truth about how the education system doesn't work when it comes to learning Romanian for us, seclers. You have lots of interesting posts - I'll take some time in the close future to look around... meanwhile I'll add You to my circles, to see if something new comes up! ;)

All the best!

Robert

Andrei Costescu said...

Hello. I did add this comment to Adevarul as well. I have not time to translate it, but I think it might be useful. Maybe you can translate/post it or just leave it untranslated as most ppl. will probably understand. There's also a question for you in there.

If you are interested in the full official response let me know.

-----
Salut. M-am informat la minister.

În situaţia în care limba maternă diferă de cea română, în zonele despre care discută articolul, există învăţământ în limba maternă unde limba română este predată ca limba a doua - cu manuale şi materie adaptată pentru a prelua copilul de la 0. Desigur există şi şcoli ca oriunde în ţară unde se predă în limba română.

Aş întreba autorul: fetiţa lui la care din cele două tipuri de şcoli învaţă? Dacă nu ştia limba română şi a dat-o la şcoala în lb. română direct, poate trebuia să opteze pentru cealaltă variantă. Dacă este deja la şcoală în altă limbă maternă şi curricula tot nu este bună (la predarea ca a doua limbă) atunci este o contradicţie între teorie şi practică - deci la nivel teoretic abordarea pare să fie cea cerută de autor. Citat din răspunsul oficial (fragment, că răspunsul e lung cu mai multe explicaţii - cu egalitatea în şanse, fără discriminare etc.):
"(...) 5. Şi în acest an şcolar, elevii din şcolile cu predare în limbile minorităţilor naţionale învaţă disciplina limba română ca a doua limbă de comunicare, precum şi literatura română, pentru orientarea culturală. Programele în vigoare prevăd următoarele etape de învăţare a disciplinei în discuţie:
a. La nivelul învăţământului primar, programă şi manuale adaptate;
b. La nivel gimnazial, programă comună şi manuale adaptate.
c. La nivel liceal, programă şi manuale comune.
Această organizare curriculară asigură o învăţare graduală a limbii române, de la nivelul de iniţiere, până la cel avansat. (...)"
-----

Andrei Costescu said...

Hello. I did add this comment to Adevarul as well. I have not time to translate it, but I think it might be useful. Maybe you can translate/post it or just leave it untranslated as most ppl. will probably understand. There's also a question for you in there.

If you are interested in the full official response let me know.

-----
Salut. M-am informat la minister.

În situaţia în care limba maternă diferă de cea română, în zonele despre care discută articolul, există învăţământ în limba maternă unde limba română este predată ca limba a doua - cu manuale şi materie adaptată pentru a prelua copilul de la 0. Desigur există şi şcoli ca oriunde în ţară unde se predă în limba română.

Aş întreba autorul: fetiţa lui la care din cele două tipuri de şcoli învaţă? Dacă nu ştia limba română şi a dat-o la şcoala în lb. română direct, poate trebuia să opteze pentru cealaltă variantă. Dacă este deja la şcoală în altă limbă maternă şi curricula tot nu este bună (la predarea ca a doua limbă) atunci este o contradicţie între teorie şi practică - deci la nivel teoretic abordarea pare să fie cea cerută de autor. Citat din răspunsul oficial (fragment, că răspunsul e lung cu mai multe explicaţii - cu egalitatea în şanse, fără discriminare etc.):
"(...) 5. Şi în acest an şcolar, elevii din şcolile cu predare în limbile minorităţilor naţionale învaţă disciplina limba română ca a doua limbă de comunicare, precum şi literatura română, pentru orientarea culturală. Programele în vigoare prevăd următoarele etape de învăţare a disciplinei în discuţie:
a. La nivelul învăţământului primar, programă şi manuale adaptate;
b. La nivel gimnazial, programă comună şi manuale adaptate.
c. La nivel liceal, programă şi manuale comune.
Această organizare curriculară asigură o învăţare graduală a limbii române, de la nivelul de iniţiere, până la cel avansat. (...)"
-----

Andy Hockley said...

Thanks Andrei

So, if I understand correctly, the law is different at different levels of schooling. I guess actually this is my experience (or better stated my children's experience)

I would say that in primary level there is accommodation to the different needs of non-native speakers. My other daughter is 7 and in the first grade and does get what I would term an elementary Romanian curriculum which is presumably different from that experienced by Romanian speaking children.

However, it's at the 5-8 grade level (I presume that's referred to as "La nivel gimnazial" here) where the problems are really stark. Even within this law as stated, the common syllabus means that the kids are being asked to work within a syllabus which is not conducive to their learning. Whether the coursebooks are adapted or not, makes little difference, if the curriculum is the same and the teachers are not being trained to work with the kids.

I still contend that if the aim is to make Hungarian (and other minority) kids to learn Romanian successfully (and surely that should be the aim), then the current system is failing them, and therefore failing the country as a whole.

Robert Andras said...

Dear Andrei, what You say, it may be true - but then we are far from theory! We can form one general rule: a lot depends on the teacher! But in rest it is not working like this at all! Why? Andy explained it better then I could do it!
It is very hard for a native Romanian to understand the actual situation here - the best would be to come here and visit a class where there are 20 Seclers or more... It is very sad to see how these children struggle with the Romanian language!

Andrei Costescu said...

Ah, ok. So would a different curriculum through 5-8 as well be more useful?

Shouldn't those become the same at one point in time? (I'm thinking now of advanced English classes - that study native english literature)

I'm sure teachers and their approach matter a lot - I can say this from my personal experience with any subject of study.

Andy Hockley said...

I'm not sure they should become the same. I mean in an ideal world they probably could eventually, but to take English as an example, even extremely high level English language exams (such as the Cambridge Proficiency and CAE tests) have a literature option, but it's a very small part of the whole (it is one optional part of the writing paper only).

I think an appreciation for and an understanding of literature is an important thing for kids to get - but they do get this in their native language. I'd say that the real need for Hungarian Romanian kids is to be able to communicate effectively and at a fluent level in Romanian (both in terms of conversation and in terms of the needs of citizenship and the employment market).

Given that there are these "tracks" in high school that kids sign up for, I would suggest that perhaps a study of Romanian literature would be best included in the "language" track (while Romanian as a communicative skill be part of the general curriculum that all non-native speakers need to study all the way to 18).

To give an example of the English education system (which may not be the best example given how awful we English are at speaking other languages, but's its the one I know best), kids studying French (which is the most common foreign language) learn it without any literary input as far as 16. Between 16 and 18 there is some literature in the curriculum, and then only really at University if you chose to study French Literature would you really get deeply involved in it.

Andrei Costescu said...

I suggest that you suggest :) this to your local parliament representatives, or some officials (in case the idea is not already adopted by some).

Focusing on contemporary communication skills incrementally through 5-8 and then having some literature in high-school is not bad in my opinion - if it leads to better language skills.