To promote the academic research and academic exchange between Chinese and overseas scholars in the fields of Linguistics and Language Education, the School of Foreign Languages (SFL) of Southwest Jiaotong University (SWJTU) and the Chinese Language Program at the Columbia University jointly hosted the International Conference on Language and Language Education on the 23rd to 24th of August, 2015 at SWJTU. Keynote speakers were Prof. Gayatri Spivak from Columbia University, Prof. Chou Chi-Ping from Princeton University, Prof. Sun Chaofen from Stanford University, Prof. Feng Shengli from Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof. Cao Shunqing from Sichuan University, Prof. Chen Yongguo from Tsinghua University, Prof. Zhang Yuejun from Xiamen University of Technology and Prof. Shi Ji from SWJTU.
SWJTU president Xu Fei, Prof. Shi Jian from College of Foreign Languages in Sichuan University (also the chairman of Sichuan College Foreign Languages Teaching and Research Association), SFL Dean Li Chengjian, Prof. Liu Lening from Columbus University (also the SFL overseas Dean) spoke at the opening ceremony.
President Xu Fei
President Xu Fei gave high remarks to what SFL has achieved during the past few years in cultivation talents and improving the humanities research at SWJTU. With a broader vision of globalization, SFL began to enroll graduate students for its Chinese International Education major this autumn semester. The theme of this international conference on language and language teaching testified to SWJTU’s active involvement in academic research in liberal arts. And he wished the conference may provide an opportunity for fruitful and meaningful exchanges between experts in language and language teaching.
Prof. Li Chengjian, Dean of SFL
Prof. Liu Lening, the overseas dean of SFL
Prof. Shi Jian
Prof. Shi Jian from College of Foreign Languages in Sichuan University (also the chairman of Sichuan College Foreign Languages Teaching and Research Association)
Prof. Gayatri Spivak
Prof. Gayatri Spivak from Columbia University is one of the most prestigious cultural and critical theorists, and one key representative of the western post-colonialism. She is a highly productive writer, whose theses can be found in many authoritative journals of social sciences worldwide and whose “A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Towards a History of the Vanishing Present” published by Harvard University Press in 1999 is regarded as a classic. At the present conference, Prof. Spivak gave a speech entitled “Language and Comparative Literature under the Pressure of Globalization”. In her opinion, why literature enjoys such an important position lies in that literature can maintain the harmony in the world because it can bring together by suffocating the conflicts. People should reflect on globalization with rationality: No country can be the center of the world, and every single country should play a role on the world stage. Prof. Spivak pointed out that the future of the world depends on the young generation, encouraging the audience to fulfill their dreams on a broader platform.
Prof. Cao Shunqing
Prof. Cao Shunqing from Sichuan University, a Changjiang Scholar Distinguished Professor, in his speech “Cultural Exchange and Variation”, introduced the definition and background of the variation study of comparative literature. He also shared with the audience his research on literature variation (or foreignization), the important thrust for exchanges between civilizations and cultures.
Prof. Feng Shengli
Prof. Feng Shengli from Chinese University of Hong Kong, a Yangtze Scholar Adjunct Professor at Beijing Language and Culture University, gave a speech “Grammar Categories and Teaching grammar”. Considering grammar as a key part in teaching Chinese, he classified grammar into four categories: formal, functional, prosodic and stylistic. A trinitarian grammar for Chinese pedagogy was also recommended and introduced to the audience.
Prof. Sun Chaofen
Prof. Sun Chaofen from Stanford University, a Yangtze Scholar Adjunct Professor at Beijing Language and Culture University, talked about nouns in modern Chinese in an original perspective by analyzing the formation of Chinese words with a large number of examples.
Prof. Chou Chi-Ping
Prof. Chou Chi-Ping from Princeton University shared his disagreement on the point that Chinese characters prevented the development of China held by some radical intellectuals such as Qian Xuantong, Lu Xun, Qu Qiubai and so on during the May Fourth Movement in 1919. In addition, he explained why he preferred “contemporary Chinese” to “simplified Chinese” to describe Chinese characters in present use.
Prof. Chen Yongguo
Prof. Chen Yongguo from Tsinghua University gave a speech “Humanist Education: From How to Make Man Human to How to Make Man Globally Competent”. Western Humanism originated from literature Renaissance while Chinese humanism rooted in Confucianism. After the west entered modernization, institutionalization alienated human beings and deprived them of their opportunities to develop their potentials; while since 1980s, China attached great importance to humanism education.
Prof. Zhang Yuejun
Prof. Zhang Yuejun from Xiamen University of Technology, regarding literature as a means of education, shared with the audience a few poems by William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson and Li-young Lee in order to show the common presentation of humanity -- man is an integral part of nature -- although the poets differed in attitudes towards nature and in their religious beliefs.
Prof. Shi Ji
Prof. Shi Ji from SWJTU reported her research on Chinese proficiency - elementary level and its corresponding vocabulary. Based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, she summarized that the equivalent Chinese proficiency Elementary Level would be studied in the following aspects: the domains and difficulty for communication tasks; vocabulary levels; the basic reference indicators for vocabulary or grammar; the openness of vocabulary; etc..
Prof. Dong Hongchuan Prof. Ou Hong
Prof. Dong Hongchuan from Sichuan Foreign Languages University and Prof. Ou Hong from Sun Yat-sen University also shared their respective opinions when presiding the seminars on the following day.
The Four Professors “Diagnosed” the Class Teaching
A workshop of “Chinese Teaching Methods” was held, with three teachers respectively presenting a demo teaching to four foreign students and with Prof. Liu Lening, Prof. Chi-Ping Chou, Prof. Shengli Feng and Prof. Chaofeng Sun presented for expert reviews. The four professors commented positively the three different classes on different teaching objectives, modes and content. In brief, they all agreed on that when teaching Chinese to the foreign students, practice always outweighs lecturing, and teachers should learn to passionately encourage the students to speak more in class.
During the following seminar session, three topics were discussed: 1. The relationship between linguistic study and literary study. 2. The Relationship between linguistic study and language education. 3. The Current State and lookout of the Chinese International Education. We can confidently say that the conference witnessed the development of liberal arts at SWJTU as well as a meaningful part in SWJTU’s mission of becoming a world-class research-based university.