The assignments I had to do were 2 case studies on a japanese boy, Hiro and his family in Australia, and the other, a Taiwanese boy, Mike, in Australia. I had to analyse how Hiro's background and culture as a Japanese could affect his family, in terms of how the family view their roles, responsibilities, needs, wants and learning styles. So, if you wanted to know why I have been watching the Japanese 9 hours series, Generation Love, and reading up books and journals on japanese culture, not to mention discussing topics on Japanese culture, it is not so much that I like their culture, but because I had to do it for my assignments! I have other more interesting things to read by far, you know??
I had always thought that culture had nothing to do with how I think, but now, I can see that it isn't really so. Like for example, most Asian parents think that their children are rude if the children answer back. That is the case with my family as well. But in a Western family, that is not considered rude. In fact that is normal for a child to question both the teacher as well as the parents. In practice, students are taught to question how things work and analyse the situation and find out answers for themselves. In short, teachers there do not give out answers like how they are here.
I had a case of my cousin and his colleague who were sharing a lecture presentation (they were lecturers for a1st years class in U.Queensland, and he told me that the student asked his colleague, a female Malaysian, and she couldn't give an answer. Then the student proceeded to ask him. After which, the student proceeded to declare to the rest of the class that the female lecturer didn't know her work. Well, I think that by any chance IS rude, but according to my cousin, that was a pretty normal practice over there. His female colleague was obviously very very upset. *lolz*
The other was on a Taiwanese boy, Mike, and I had to think and prepare a Child Profile for him, and then think of what kind of an ESL (English as a Second Language) program and strategies to accomodate and help him to learn English being in a new environment and all... The program that I wrote out had to be workable, but also needed a theory based background to substantiate it. I definitely think that the Hiro case is harder, but it seems that the examiners are awarding more points to Mike's case that is.
In terms of talking about a minority language, I would like to share a case about my Kiwi nieces.
My nieces were about 12 and 9 the last I saw them about CNY a year last. They were both complaining that their grandfather did not like it that they couldn't speak Cantonese. Now, it would be obvious that being a minority ethnic group in NZ, there is absolutely no way anyone will be able to practise a language unless the family makes an effort to, right?
I was doing a reading on japenese bilingual speaking families, where the parents tried to encourage the children to speak English at home, whilst everyone else in the community was speaking the dominant language which was Japanese. Now, my nieces come under that category, except that their minority language would be Cantonese instead of English.
The author stated that children of bilingual families have no motivation nor interest to speak a minority language as it did not serve any purpose in communicating with other members of society. Not to mention that there were no sign boards nor journals, magazines or media in the society that encourage any kind of interaction in that language.
So in the case of my nieces' family, my cousin would speak to them in Cantonese, whereas they would reply her in English. Imagine, after speaking in English the entire day, you come home, and all of a sudden you had to speak Cantonese. This is also the case for my nephews in The States as well. I think, they may end up doing the same, unless my cousins really insist that their mother tongue is spoken at home.
However, I would also like to bring up an exception here. One would be my grandmother. My brother's fluency in Cantonese sucks. However, in order that he could converse with my grandmother, he had to brush up his Cantonese so he could talk to my grandmother. However, if it was the case that my grandmother could understand English but could not speak it, I think my brother would have been less motivated to do so.
Well, if that is the case, I have to pretend that I cannot speak English so that my children would only speak Cantonese? I don't think that is happening any time soon. Thanks, but I wouldn't even pretend not to know just so that I could get the desired results.
Talking about culture, my nieces were also complaining that they didn't want to marry a chinese when they are adults. From my perspective, it is not so much the issue of marrying someone from your own etnic race, but it is more of an issue of lack of having chinese people around, and I think that if there was a plentiful supply of chinese around in NZ, my nieces wouldn't complain so much. Also, they were echoing the sentiments of having watched the blockbuster movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where this greek girl was forced to marry a greek boy, but ended up marrying a white in The States, and the family had to persuade the farther to give in. *laughs*
Basically, as a minority ethnic group in a foreign country, one has to follow the customs. In the case of the japanese boy Hiro the family has to conform to the culture of the country. In Japan, most fathers leave work way after 6pm in the evening, whereas in Australia, work ends at 5pm sharp. There is absolutely no way Hiro's father could stay at work after 5, as everyone else and all the other staff would have left work and he would be the only one left in the office. As a result of these working hours in Japan, it has affected the amount of time that fathers could spend bonding with the family, but this should not be the case in Australia, where the government has strict policies on such things. It is not so much that the Australians are not as hardworking, but they have other priorities, and also taxes are high in Australia. The longer hours you work and the higher your pay, the more taxes one has to pay.
Culture also influences the way people do things. I should say that as teachers in a cross cultural society with people coming from diverse backgrounds and different etnicity, teachers have also to be trained and aware of the students background, and know how culture affects the way students do things the way they do. Asians tend to do learn by rote memory and analysing and thinking skills are not emphasized, whereas this is not the case in the Western society. I should say this is the case for my niece in Kiwi, where according to my mother who visited their family, her written reports had so many spelling mistakes, but it apparently was not really so much of an issue there. However if she were here, the teacher would probably have given her a nice lecturing on the importance of good spelling *blah blah blah*.
It is no wonder Asians tend not to speak up in class when they have a problem understanding the subjects, or have trouble making decisions and choices. Not so much that the child doesn't want to but, but in part, some parents do not even give the child the opportunity to think and make decisions for themselves. and as for the other is a result of society's expectations and practice.
Thankfully I am no longer like that.