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《美國老師教你寫出好英文》在台暢銷 登上美國報紙版面
2008/12/02 19:57
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        2007年我兒子在新竹科學園區實驗中學雙語部暑假上寫作課時,拿回來一本他上課用的教材,是由教授該課程的美國高中老師Scott Dreyer所編寫。我很好奇美國老師是如何教英文寫作,就拿來翻閱,當時只有薄薄29頁的講義,但我發現跟台灣英文老師的教學方法很不一樣。台灣的英文老師教寫作時比較偏重英文的句法規則和字彙用法,而Scott的教法是強調寫作的過程並提供十二個步驟依序來完成一篇文章。簡單比較而言,台灣英文教師的教學法常是由下而上(bottom-up),也就是從文字的基本單位出發如字彙、句子、段落一直到篇章的教學;而美國教師的寫作教學較傾向由上而下(top-down)的方式,亦即從認識寫作的文體和風格開始再落實到寫作的具體步驟。其實這兩種學習寫作的進路(approach)對台灣的學習者都有很大的助益,如果能整合在一本書上就更加理想。於是我詢問Scott是否有意願擴大原書稿的內容,與我一起合作為台灣讀者出版一本英文寫作用書,而他也欣然答應。

        討論編寫這本書的過程非常順利,我們都非常尊重彼此對英文寫作教學的專業觀點,交換想法後幾乎沒有意見不一致的情況。因為本書的讀者是設定為國內大專同學以及相當大專英文程度的社會人士,但Scott是美國現職的高中老師,只有暑假才會來台灣,他對這些目標讀者的英文程度和寫作需求也不熟悉;而我在大學教授英文已有多年的經驗,可以提供比較貼近讀者所需教材內容和編寫方式的意見。於是我們就在Scott寫作課講義的基礎上擴大加深原有的內容章節,經過一年多的合作編寫和翻譯校對,全書終於在2008年九月大功告成。

        該書自出版以來都相當暢銷,不僅一個月內就逕付二刷,更一直高居博客來網路書店語言學習類暢銷排行榜第一名,目前已進入五刷。我對這樣的成績相當滿意,沒想到上週就有Scott所居住美國城市的報紙The Roanoke Times記者David Harrisonemail來要採訪這本書在台灣大賣的情況。我以前在Far Eastern Economic Review(遠東經濟評論)工作時經常要跟美國駐華的社長出去採訪一些台灣名人,沒想到現在要被美國記者採訪,真是風水輪流轉,總算換我體驗一下被採訪的興奮心情。報紙出刊後,上網一眼就看到Scott大頭照片的書籍封面出現在首頁News的頭條,標題是Big in Taiwan,新聞篇幅也不小(標題改為Roanoke Teacher is Hot in Taiwan),當然我就拼命找我的英文名字Posen Liao (or Liao),果真出現了幾次,真是high! 再看到文中所附Scott的全家福照片,心中不禁浮現對這家人的思念和感謝,也祝福他們在美國的生活一切順利如意。

以下是新聞的英文全文,轉載自The Roanoke Times的線上新聞網頁: http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/186161

Roanoke Teacher is Hot in Taiwan

A Roanoke teacher's guide to better writing sold out its first run within a month.

By David Harrison
 

Scott Dreyer is big in Taiwan.

In Roanoke, he's a history teacher at Patrick Henry High School. But in Taiwan, he's the author of a hot new English textbook for college students called "Write Like a Champion." (Chinese title: "An American Teacher Teaches you to Write Better English.")

The book came out this summer. The first run sold out within a month. It hit the top spot for new language books on a Taiwanese best-seller list. It peaked at No. 9 overall, just below a book by superinvestor Warren Buffett.

All this success on the other side of the planet has thrilled Dreyer, and perhaps overwhelmed him a little bit too.

"Hey, I'm on the same page as Warren Buffett. That's not too bad," he said one recent evening, sounding as though he still didn't quite believe it.

The book was the result of a late-night epiphany for Dreyer, who spent 10 years after college teaching English in Taiwan, where he met his wife, Deborah.

In 2007, Scott, Deborah, and their four children were getting ready to visit relatives in Taiwan over the summer. To help pay for the trip, he had signed up to teach some classes there, helping students with their written English.

But he'd put off ordering textbooks until it was too late.

"I was so mad at myself," he recalled, shaking his head one evening as he sat in his living room in Southwest Roanoke.

He decided to make his own textbook by typing up and collating old worksheets. That yielded a 29-page packet. He called it his 12 steps to clearer writing.

It just so happened, he said, that the husband of his contact in Taiwan is an English professor who had been approached by a publisher about writing an English textbook. The professor, Posen Liao, referred the publisher to Dreyer.

When Dreyer showed up with his manuscript, it didn't take long before he was meeting with Liao and the publisher and inking a contract.

Back home, Dreyer spent the next few months writing. Liao, who became his co-author, would e-mail him student essays, and Dreyer would correct the grammar and give advice about writing effectively in English. Liao would then translate that advice into Mandarin for the bilingual textbook.

"Even though it's a long distance between Taiwan and Virginia, we still worked as a team with a very positive attitude and believed that we were doing something great together," Liao wrote in an e-mail.

Dreyer worked nights, mornings and weekends. He would sequester himself in the basement or at his parents' house and pound the keyboard. At one point, he hammered out 50 pages in three days.

"He would stay in the basement and I would say [to the children], 'Don't go down there to bother Daddy. He needs to concentrate and write his book,' " Deborah Dreyer said.

Today, the book is a sleek 256 pages, with a photo of Dreyer's oversized smiling face on the cover, making him look like a bobble-head doll.

Inside, there are segments on the proper use of "-ing," the difference between "in general" and "generally speaking" and a whole section on avoiding "Chinglish," the mixture of Chinese and English.

Most English textbooks written by Taiwanese teachers focus on rules of grammar and proper vocabulary, Liao said. Dreyer's book, by contrast, was less rigid.

"Mr. Dreyer's teaching approach focused more on the writing process and provided 12 specific steps to help learners complete a piece of writing," Liao wrote.

It's intended for students who already have a firm grasp of spoken English but need help with their writing.

It's not being marketed in mainland China, Dreyer said, because the Chinese characters used in Taiwan are slightly different from the ones used in China.

The book has been prominently displayed in bookstores and has helped Dreyer reconnect with some friends from his earlier stint in Taiwan.

"I was very surprised and excited at seeing his face on the cover of the book because I haven't seen him for about 10 years," former colleague Hui-Mei Chen wrote in an e-mail.

She bought the book, read it and wrote to Dreyer, complimenting him on being a published author.

The book is also being sold to English-learning, Chinese-speaking students in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

"It's been a blessing and it's been neat," Dreyer said.

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1樓. cheetz
2009/01/01 18:31
恭喜老師!

恭喜老師!

我是高中英文教師,也喜歡用 top-down 的方法教閱讀

而且我認為 閱讀+寫作 應該整合在一起教授

相信老師的書可以給我很大的靈感!

很高興我們對於英文寫作教學的觀點相同,以後請多交流。 Posen 2009/01/03 00:42回覆