Random header image... Refresh for more!

Issue 26 – Naw and Aye – Internal Struggles in The Story of an Hour and Clearances 4

By Cedric Wong (ELED graduate)

Have you ever experienced a “no and yes” moment, when your shoulder angel says yes and the devil begs to differ, putting you in a difficult internal struggle? Kate Chopin and Seamus Heaney describe different, yet, on second thought, extremely similar internal conflicts in their characters in The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, and Clearances 4 by Seamus Heaney, and their respective characters, Mrs Mallard, the mother and the son. In this essay, I shall compare the nature, source and literary presentation of the characters’ internal conflicts.

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin is a feminist classic. It chronicles an hour of Mrs Mallards’ perhaps inconsistent responses to her husband’s death. She sobbed thinking about her tender husband, but also longed for the joy and freedom that comes with his death. Clearances 4 by Seamus Heaney is a poem making sense of the complicated relationship between a son and a mother. The mother was loving but lacks the education and language to be on par with the son.

A similarity between the internal conflicts of the son and of Mrs Mallard are the source of conflict. Both internal conflicts arise from the incongruity between their own personal values and the social values imposed on them. In short, it is the contradiction between the “want self” and “should self”. In Clearances 4, the son wants to use his knowledge about English because writing poems in English is his personal literary pursuit. Yet, society imposes expectations on his identity. His Irish identity means that he should sound like an Irish. And as a son, he should listen to the mother and follow her instructions. This is an inconsistency between what he should do and what he wants to do. The juxtaposition of words with both positive and negative connotations reveals the son’s internal conflict between his “want self” and “should self”. In “decently relapse into the wrong grammar”, the word “decent” denotes the positive virtue of filial piety (Heaney). The word “decent” has a meaning of being generally accepted as virtuous by the society, echoing the society’s impositions of the “should” to an Irish son (Heaney). Yet, “decent” contradicts the “relapse into the wrong grammar” (Heaney). “Relapse” and “wrong” are adjectives that reveal the son’s personal opinion (Heaney). He thinks using bad grammar is wrong and pathogenic. The society’s expectation on him and his personal preference are mixed together, oxymoronically, in one sentence, revealing the oxymoronic state of mind the son harbours. Similarly, in “genuinely well-adjusted adequate betrayal”, the three consecutive multisyllabic highly positive adjectives are followed by the strongly condemning word “betrayal” (Heaney). The combination of the contradicting words echoes the contradiction inside the son’s mind. His action of following the mother fulfills and conforms to the society’s expectations of an Irish and of a son, yet he views it as a betrayal to himself. Also, “naw and aye” are blatant antonyms (Heaney). This suggests his half-willingness and half-reluctance to use the wrong grammar, indicating the son’s internal conflict of whether to use wrong grammar (should) or to speak in correct English (want).

Similar to Clearances 4’s son, the internal conflict of Mrs Mallard in The Story of an Hour is also the result of inconsistency between the social ‘should’ and personal ‘want’. The society’s expectation for Mrs Mallard, as a widow, is that she should mourn and be horribly wretched. For example, Richards assumes that Mrs Mallard will be unable to accept the news, thus he prevents any insensitive friend from bearing the news. Josephine, the sister, thinks that Mrs Mallard will make herself “ill” in the room because Josephine presupposes that Mrs Mallard is depressingly grieving inside (Chopin). The verdict from the doctors that Mrs Mallard died “of joy that kills” takes for granted that Mrs Mallard is happy to see Mr Mallard back, implying that they suppose that Mrs Mallard must have been miserable to know about his death (Chopin). The actions and underlying presuppositions of Richards, Josephine and the doctors reflect society’s expectations of the widow identity. To heighten the sense of society, “Richards”, with an –s, and “doctors”, not one doctor is used (Chopin). The common name is Richard, and normally, one doctor, suffice the diagnosis of a dead woman. The deliberate plurality heightens the sense of public involvement. Like the son’s relapse, Mrs Mallard conformed to societal expectations, but momentarily. For instance, she thinks, “she had loved him, sometimes, of course she did not” (Chopin). In another instance, Mrs Mallard rejected the new freedom by “striving to beat it back with her will” (Chopin). The conformity to society’s perception that she should not be freed, in two brief moments, shows that she compromises, just like the son’s decent relapse. She is lost in the internal conflict. Yet the briefness of the compromises reveals the strength of personal will. In fact, Mrs Mallard yearns for liberation and emancipation from such expectations. She cannot help but see hopeful, pleasant and delightful imageries from her window. She wants to be liberated and emancipated from the burdened identity of Mr Mallard’s widow. Her yearning for liberation is made evident by phrases like her “fancy was running riot”, when she prays that “life might be long”, and of course “free, free, free!” (Chopin). She wants to be freed and imagines a life free from Mr Mallard. This contrasts with the society’s expectations.

Building on the previous conflict of social role versus personal desire, a related difference is the relationships which cause the internal conflicts. In The Story of an Hour, it is the utter lack of love that leads to the internal conflict of Mrs Mallard. Since she does not love Mr Mallard, she feels hopeful after hearing about Mr Mallard’s death, which conflicts with the social expectations for her.

In Clearances 4, it is the very presence, not absence, of relations that leads to his internal conflict. The son’s filial love for his mother contributes to his struggle. For example, out of love, he does not want to blame his mother, yet he disagrees to her behaviours, leading to contradicting responses to his mother’s behaviours. The choice of words with multiple layers of meaning reveals the multiple layers of thinking of the son. In “affect inadequacy”, “affect” can be a very neutral word (simply to influence) or can have very disapproving implicature (pretending, putting up a show) (Heaney). Same for “inadequate”: it could mean inadequacy in pronunciation proficiency, or inadequacy in morality (Heaney). It is either something minor or something serious. This reveals the son’s struggle. He is caught in the middle of not blaming but disproving of the mother’s behavior. Also, out of love, the son wants to have her mother as a part of his literary career. Yet the mother just does not fit in. According to the son/narrator, the mother could not pronounce the name Bertolt Brecht, a poet of Heaney/the son/ the narrator’s time. This failure to pronounce accurately suggests that she cannot associate with literature, meaning that she does not fit in the son’s literary world. The lack of “t” in “Bertold Brek”, literally, does not fit in the rhyme scheme (“affect”) (Heaney). The partial rhyme implies the conflict of the son: he wants to integrate his mother as a part of his life but the mother just does not fit in. Also, the son follows the mother’s instructions to speak with wrong grammar, showing that he is very obedient to the mother. However, this obedience is a betrayal to his education (“what I know better”) and so giving rise to a personal conflict between filial piety and education (Heaney). The mother and son are “allied” because the son follows the mother’s wrong grammar out of filial love and relationship (Heaney). They are “at bay” because the son has a different attitude from the mother about education (Heaney). The son’s internal conflict is in part out of his love for his mother.

Turning to another similarity, the narrators of both works suggest that the internal conflicts are not realistic. In The Story of an Hour, Mrs Mallard’s limited and unrealistic perception of the situation gives rise to her unrealistic internal conflicts. Firstly, the pleasant and lively scene of the sky and birds outside the open window are actually common, everyday scenery. Yet Mrs Mallard construes the scene as a “new spring life”, as if spring starts on that day (Chopin). Surely, spring has started some days ago, just that Mrs Mallard does not notice. So the new spring life is only Mrs Mallard’s own interpretation based on her wishful thinking, not the reality outside the window. She commits the “she sees what she wants to see” selective perception bias (Chopin). Thus, the “new spring life” and the implied new life are not found in reality, but only in Mrs Mallard’s dreams (Chopin). Therefore, the entire fussy conflict about social expectations of a widow and her own longings is unrealistic because she unrealistically assumes that she has a new life ahead. Also, the scenes she sees symbolize imagined fantasy. She can hear “distant song” and “peddlers crying” (Chopin). Sounds are very intangible, and especially weak if it comes from a distance. This shows that her perception is not materialistic. She can also see things high at the top, for example, the “top of trees”, “sky”, “eaves” (top of a house) (Chopin). But she cannot see the things near the ground. Through a window, one can see things framed by the window, but not things outside the window frame, like the ground. This reveals that her perception of reality is unfounded and not down-to-earth. The “breath of rain in the air” alludes to the idiom of “castle in the air” which refers to unfounded mental inventions (Chopin). Mrs Mallard receives a narrow view, a one-sided angle limited by the window frame. This reflects that she only receives one version of the news about Mr. Mallard limited by Richards, but not the complete picture of the situation. Her point of view is limited by the window frame and by Richards’ news. The narrator never confirmed that the freedom is real. All the imageries of hope and visions of an emancipated future are all phrased under “She saw” or “She could see”, suggesting that they are only her perceived reality (Chopin). The state of openness of the window, just like the news from Richards, offers unrealistic hope. Although the window is open, it is still a window. Mrs Mallard cannot fully understand what is happening outside. This signifies the separation and the discrepancy between reality and Mrs Mallard’s perspective. Mallard is detached from reality. Also, an open window can be shut at any time, e.g. by a sudden blow of wind (which is a part of reality). It means that the imagination and hope can diminish all of a sudden due to some unknown reality. This is reflected in the ending that the unexpected arrival of Mr Mallard kills Mrs Mallard’s dreams and herself. Besides, when she comes out of the room, there is “a feverish triumph in her eyes” (Chopin). This can be interpreted as a triumphant expression showing in her eyes, or that the triumph only exists in her perception of the world, not out in the reality. In the sentence “She saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come”, the seeing was not actual seeing with eyes and retina, but seeing by imagining a mental image of the future (Chopin). The ephemeral nature of such seeing reflects that the freedom she gets is imagined and only lasts a short time. Her eyes and eyesight symbolize her limited point of view.

Besides using eye and eyesight, the notion of unrealistic wishful thinking is implied by word choice. The prayer for an autonomous future is “breathed” and “quick” (Chopin). The word “free” is “whispered” and “breathed”, creating a sense of weakness and feebleness (Chopin). The quick and transient nature of a whisper and breath creates a sense of brevity. This means that Mrs Mallard’s unfounded wishes only last for a short time. The freedom is interestingly described as to “possess” Mrs Mallard (Chopin). The word possess is usually collocated with ghosts and spirits. For those who believe in ghosts, there are ghosts. For those who only believe in the material world, ghost is plain invention. The thing that is going to possess Mrs Mallard, like ghosts, does not exist in reality, but in Mrs Mallard’s imagination and unfounded belief. The word “elixir” suggests therapeutic and medicinal functions (Chopin). Yet, an elixir only exists in the fantasy, magical world of imagination. This reflects that the new life she gets through the window is the invention of Mrs Mallard’s imagination. The words “fancy” and “prayer” also reveal that freedom was only hopes of Mrs Mallard (Chopin). The words suggest unfounded imagination. All the conflicts are based on unfounded wishes, so the conflicts are not realistic. Thus, Mrs Mallard’s struggle is unrealistic because her gaining of a new life is not reality.

Similar to that the Story, Clearances 4 suggests that the mother’s internal conflicts are not realistic. The narrator uses the line “as if she might betray” to describe the motivation for the mother’s worries (Heaney). The counterfactual “as if” and the modality of “might” denote unlikeliness and low possibility (Heaney). This shows that the narrator believes the mother’s worries are unrealistic because most probably, the relatives will not find her true accent offensive. It makes sense to say that someone offends someone else with coarse language, but the juxtaposition of offending someone and a “well-adjusted vocabulary” is awkwardly unlikely (Heaney). Also, “hampered and inadequate” is a highly critical term not usually associated with relatives (Heaney). This indicates that “the hampered and inadequate” only account for a small minority of the many relatives (Heaney). So it is not necessary for the mother to worry about betraying them.

One difference between the internal struggles in the two works is that the struggles in the Story is a one-off struggle but the ones in Clearances are daily struggles. In the Story, the struggle between emancipation and constraint is a one-off one. The freedom is “too elusive to name”, meaning that Mrs Mallard never experiences anything similar before and she is a novice to freedom (Chopin). And “only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” means that today is the first day she experiences the joy of freedom (Chopin). Yet, for obvious reasons, she will never enjoy the joy again. That is the first and last time she experiences freedom. On the contrary, in Clearances, the struggles for both the mother and the son are daily, repetitive struggles. The mother affects “every time” and “whenever” there are words beyond her, but not for once and for all (Heaney). The “’d” in “She’d manage” and “I’d naw and aye” also suggest it happens often (Heaney, Would).

“For heaven’s sake, open the door” (Chopin). When the door is opened, for Mrs Mallard, it indeed leads to the heaven. For Mrs Mallard, the anticipation for freedom cost her her life. For the son and the mother, their internal conflicts lead to subtle segregation between each other. The contradicting words of the poem and the story mirror the contradicting states of mind of the characters and the contradiction of life they face: they cannot satisfy both wishes at the same time. They cannot fulfill society’s expectations and their own wants simultaneously, and the struggle is potentially lethal. For us as readers, the next time we encounter a naw and aye moment, the experience of Mrs Mallard and the son and mother is worth pondering upon.

 

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.”

Heaney, Seamus. “Clearances 4.”

Would. Cambridge Online Dictionaries. Accessed 20 Nov. 2012. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/would_7

January 24, 2020   No Comments

Issue 26 – Some Miles Away from Work

By Kristy Kung and Kailey Yu (ELED students 2019-20)

Despite being a dynamic and cosmopolitan place, Hong Kong is named one of the most stressful cities in the world. While students are busy with their assignments and assessments, adults suffer the plight of having long working hours. Deprived of sleep and failing to set our minds free, we certainly should find ways to relax. Picnic is simply a perfect idea to get away from everyday hustle and bustle!

Why a picnic?

Break up with stress

Picnics allow you to temporarily escape from the fast-paced city. When the sun shines on the sea, there appears a stunning view with the surrounding green spaces that we tend to overlook, let alone take a moment to appreciate it. There is just something so captivating about nature, the fresh air, the enchanting scenery and the sound of birds singing. The beauty of nature can surely freshen you up, so put your phone down and allow yourself to feel the breeze. Picnics create space for some ‘me’ time too.  You can simply spare some time to meditate and recharge your body and mind. Ah, the perfect way to wind down! If you miss being a kid, perhaps this is an ideal time for you to chill or run around because no one is going to stare at you and tut.

Spend quality time with your loved ones

Not only can you lie down and relax, but also have a mini-feast. You don’t necessarily need to make every picnic fancy ¾ simple snacks, some fresh fruits, home-made cupcakes, and a small plate of spaghetti will do!

With so much going on in our lives, the importance of spending quality time with friends and family is often overlooked, so why not make up for some of that with picnics! Do not hesitate, find the people you find comfortable staying with and spend euphoric time with them!

What to bring?

  • a picnic mat
  • food — fruit, sweets, cupcakes, sandwiches and a simple pasta are highly recommended!
  • drinks — an ice pack will come in handy if you want to enjoy some nice and cold beverages!
  • utensils and napkins
  • a portable speaker for some music
  • a camera for photos
  • FRIENDS & FAMILY!!

January 24, 2020   No Comments

Issue 26 – Keys to Work-life Balance

By Elizabeth Lui (ELED Year 2 student 2019-20)

The idea of living a good life – one that is fruitful and meaningful has long been what many wish to pursuit. As a result, achieving work-life balance has been a widely-concerned topic as it facilitates the process towards accomplishing the ideal lifestyle.

The first step to maintaining a balance in life is to do a reality check. Before trying to blindly work on the new plans made based on hasty decisions, goal-setting is important. Not only does it help analyse your current situation, but it also serves as the database to set realistic goals. Beginning with the contemplation of your ideal work-life proportion and activities you find important, write a rough plan. Then, you can begin listing out routines like office-hours and marking up predicted events in your timetable. This allows you to have a clearer picture of your situation as you compare it to your ideal timetable. Most people will spot the gaps between their desired and the actual timetable, and there is where the actual planning begins. The distinctive differences are directions for areas to improve.

One can decide on what could be the first tasks or habits to work on where you can manage your schedule more systematically based on the “database”. Better yet, you can derive a tailor-made plan on the areas to improve, for example, plotting some personal time for yourself and set fixed work hours.

With goals to work on, you can start keeping a schedule. Either writing it down or putting it on your phone would work as long as it is readily accessible. A useful tip would be to refer to the schedule before making appointments so that you can avoid cramping too much workload at the same period. Creating a timeline of your activities allows you to contemplate possible busy periods so you can plan ahead of time to allocate some of the workloads to the dates before.

Certainly, all beginnings could be difficult at first and require trial and error to get through. The same happens with the work-life balance. Therefore, when you are having a hard time managing the responsibilities on hand, it is fine to take a much-needed break. Yet, a break does not equal to burying your head in the sand, instead, it is a time to recognise our weaknesses and limitations, stop for a moment to reflect on what should be prioritized and then allocate your time accordingly.

 

By Kelly Wu (ELED Year 1 student 2019-20)

We all know that having a good work-life balance is beneficial to us in many different ways, but how exactly can we achieve that? In fact, one key is to have a good management of your time, and here are three tips on how to properly plan your schedule to achieve a good work-life balance.

First of all, prioritize your time. , but unfortunately, time is fixed and limited. Instead of wasting time and stressing over how little time you have, try to categorize the tasks you need to finish and prioritize the ones that are relatively urgent and important. This allows you to use your time wisely and thus leaving out more spare time for you to do other things you like or wind down from the hustle.

Another great tip is to take breaks between working hours. Sometimes when the deadline is near, we would just work non-stop, but we would  . Taking short breaks in between working hours helps you to wind down from the stressful workload. During these breaks, you can listen to your favourite songs or scroll through your feed. This helps to stabilize your productivity and emotions as well,

Last but not least, leave out some ‘me’ time for yourself. Don’t just bury yourself in assignments and essays, you need to have your own life aside from work. When you plan your schedule, and relax, like going for a walk or chat with your family. At the end of the day, you are not a robot and you deserve to rest!

 

January 24, 2020   No Comments

Issue 26 – Teaching Retrospections and Prospects

By Rainbow Chan, Connie Tsoi and Jasmine Wong (ELED students 2019-20)

As a teacher-to-be, I guess you may have considered what your methodology is. Some students are now afraid of languages and this makes teachers confused because we might not know how to motivate students to learn actively. Fortunately, I met my senior form English teacher and he gave my class a parade of memorable lessons. He is the one who inspired me to be an English teacher. Let me share my 3-year memories with you all!

No Traditional Exercising Pattern! Make it Fun!

Throwing back to our senior secondary, we had to deal with loads of assignments and quizzes, and our biggest fear – the public examination. We all understood that traditional exercising practice is important for us but we were stressed and tired of the day-after-day past paper practice. Yet, teachers still gave us lots of past paper practice after teaching. We seemed to be incapable of escaping from the practice relay.

My English teacher would arrange some lessons to focus on completing papers indeed, but mostly, he designed different in-class activities to finish reading exercises. Once, he designed a game, which requires us to accomplish different missions to gain Scrabble letter tiles to form a word. The mission included finishing reading exercises, searching for candy inside the classroom and playing tongue twisters. The classroom atmosphere was so great and everyone was actively involved.

Of course, learning different exam-oriented skills is vital for a DSE candidate, but a little loosening up in lessons may probably make us more relaxed, or at least I was! We can also teach some revision and examination skills during the activities, and I believe students can have a better impression on the skills while participating in the games rather than listening to teacher-centred lectures every day.

An In-Class Competition to Learn and Revise Certain Issues

Before the lesson, we were usually asked to pre-learn the information like related expressions or news of an issue, and in the lesson, we competed with one another by answering different questions, and the winning team could be exempt from doing assignments. It is a way of presenting what we had searched for, learning new information from others’ answers and revising our research. Sometimes we might not need to pre-learn first, but we would just write down the answers in bullet points or a short paragraph on the blackboard.

The above format seems to have no difference from normal teaching, yet we can also ask our students to complete pre-learning at home and share it during the lesson. A small reward and a slightly exciting game can motivate students to participate more actively, so why don’t we consider using a more fun way to teach an issue?

Changing Classroom Setting or Playing Large-Scale Games

My teacher loves organizing festival-themed activities. Once we played a detective game during Halloween where we walked around the school to search for clues and discussed who the killer was. All classmates enjoyed the process. Not only could we learn some extra knowledge from the game, but we could also communicate more with our classmates.

We may not have enough time or are not allowed to conduct a large-scale activity during class in future teaching, but I do think that using these games to teach is a method for motivating students. Or we may just change our classroom setting like arranging tables into two lines and sitting face-to-face. We used this setting to practice individual speaking. Changing to different classroom settings might be a method for designing a more topic-focused lesson.

It seems that I had a lot of fun during my senior secondary lessons and these are indeed impressive to me. As teachers, I bet we all want our students to be interested in learning English, hoping that they are motivated to keep revising and remember what we have taught. We need to give them exercises and assignments to ensure they are not off track, but sometimes, activities might be effective in keeping students’ motivation to learn.

January 24, 2020   No Comments

Issue 26 – Students achievements redefined: Problems with standardized testing in Hong Kong and effective alternatives of assessment

By Oscar Ho (ELED Year 2 student 2019-20)

Under the influence of elitism, the academic environments have been fostered to become increasingly competitive such that the potential ‘elites’ are selected and nurtured for the future. For years, standardized testing has played a chief role as a comprehensive and objective measure in selecting such candidates for higher education college admissions (Wightman, 2003). However, past research may have under-investigated the impacts of the current standardized assessment method in Hong Kong – the Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE).

HKDSE candidates have to satisfy the 3-3-2-2-2 minimum threshold and specific programme requirements in order to be admitted to undergraduate programmes at local mainstream universities. Though standardized tests can assess students’ subject knowledge, the effectiveness and validity of such tests in determining one’s true potential have been questioned. Ultimately underestimating students’ true potential and hindering their personal development,

Problems with standardized testing in Hong Kong

In hope that students can excel in skill-focused public examinations, educators sacrifice much instructional time in routinely training them to be proficient in attempting questions, which are comparable to those in standardized tests (Herman & Golan, 1991; Prodromou, 1995). Such profound emphases prompted teachers to invest less time in the transfer of subject content and the nurturance of generic skills, including creativity and problem-solving skills. An investigation carried out by Smith et al. (1989) found that teachers tend to neglect materials, such as writing in authentic contexts, which are not covered in examinations, hence causing the narrowing of the curriculum. The remark also concurred with Jones’ and Egley’s (2007) research, where teachers were observed to have allocated nearly half of their instructional time teaching test-taking strategies for public examinations, and forced to trim the lesson proportion for the delivery of practical literacy skills and non-tested knowledge.

t facing the common dilemma of standardized tests, the study scheme of HKDSE further circumscribes the curriculum. Apart from studying the compulsory Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics and Liberal Studies, school candidates are required to take one to four elective subjects from Category A, which can be classified into eight smaller Key Learning Areas (KLAs) (The Curriculum Development Council [CDC], 2017). Statistically speaking, pupils tend to study subjects of a similar discipline, with the combination of Biology, Chemistry and Physics from the Science Education KLA being the most popular (The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, 2010). Under this trend, students may experience a narrowed curriculum since it is unlikely for them to access other KLAs in their remaining academic career (Morris, 1996), eventually impacting learning and hindering their whole-person development and acquisition of inquiry skills.

Furthermore, standardized tests hold frontline educators accountable as students’ achievements directly reflect their teaching performance. Believing that pupils’ HKDSE results determine their future career promotion and appraisals (Lam, 2006), secondary school teachers have to bear an increased workload in designing a multitude of engaging lesson curricula and delivering respective instructions that can effectually cultivate students’ expertise in various subject areas. A survey conducted by Chan et al. (2010) has shown that 95.1% of the teacher respondents viewed “heavy workload and time pressure” (p. 1904) as a major source of stress, attesting it as an issue encountered by almost all teachers. Those unable to strike a work-life balance and handle work stress properly might develop physiological and psychological disorders in the long run (Carayon et al., 1999), taking a severe toll on health.

These tests also induce stress on students, particularly those who are currently attending their senior years of secondary education. Since its introduction in 2012, HKDSE has replaced the former dual-examination system that consists of the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination. As HKDSE has become the sole qualification examination for local university admissions, its stakes level has been raised as candidates view it as an examination that “determines whether they live or die” (Legislative Council, 2014, p. 3). From the 2014 cohort onwards, Secondary 6 candidates have reported that HKDSE creates a medium level of test anxiety, which can be attributed to high self-expectancy levels, time constraints for exam preparation and fear of career prospects (Hok Yau Club, 2019). Students suffering from test anxiety might experience physical symptoms such as vomiting and insomnia, and emotional signs like depression (Alliance for Childhood, 2001; Simpson, 2016), negatively affecting wellbeing and pupils’ personal development.

Standardized testing creates inequality among learners, as it does not take non-academic factors into consideration, for instance, the socioeconomic status of the students’ family. Families with a lower income standard might not be able to afford their children to participate in more extra-curricular activities, including after-school tutorial classes. A study has shown that most students perceive an improvement in academic achievements after attending cram schools or private tutorials (Ngai et al., 2013), as these classes complement the school curriculum and are focused on improving students’ test-taking abilities. Freeman (2017) has also found that the degree of participation in extra-curricular activities, for example joining interest classes and sports training, positively correlates with academic performances. Underprivileged families, unfortunately, may not have ample resources for their children to partake in such activities as there will be additional expenses.

Neither situational confounding factors are taken into account. HKDSE candidates are allocated to various exam venues throughout the exam period, where slight environmental might have an effect on test performances. Poulsen and Hewson (2014) noticed that differences in temperature and brightness can affect the ability of some candidates to focus, and hence the exam outcomes are not aligned with their genuine capabilities. Though it may seem to be a small confound, standardized tests ought to be precise measurements of students’ capabilities. This factor, in turn, impacts the reliability of the test scores.

Using interviews for ability selection

Understandably, there is a need for an assessment method to eliminate the underperformers for university admissions (Wightman, 2003). However, pen-and-paper examinations can only access students’ cognitive abilities. Pivotal personal qualities for education success, including curiosity, conscientiousness and sociability, are neglected in standardized tests (National Council of Teachers of English, 2014), making them unreliable when screening for aspiring professionals like teachers, doctors and social workers that require specific characteristic traits.

Alternatively, the use of interviews is more valid than primarily depending on public examination results when undergoing ability selection. Prospective students, who may have a lower grade than average candidates but an excellent performance in the interview, can also be considered. Allowing university admission officers to meet candidates in-person to understand their potential comprehensively, interviews can ensure the accurate selection of candidates who are passionate on the subject area (Trice & Foster, 2008) and are possessing the desired attributes for programme entrance (Cameron & MacKeigan, 2012). Even though some students had admitted with a comparatively unsatisfactory public examination result, they were found to be performing well in university academics with grade point averages predominately above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (Trice & Foster, 2008).

Currently, not all undergraduate programme admissions require an interview. The University of Hong Kong, being one of the academia-leading universities in the city, still uses HKDSE results as the sole mechanism to assess ability levels for 25% of their programmes (The University of Hong Kong, n.d.). This exemplifies that interviews are not being viewed as one of the most critical indicators for admissions at this stage.

Utilizing portfolio-based assessments to track students’ learning progress

Ideally, HKDSE “provides feedback to students on their performance” and addresses all learning outcomes (CDC & Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, 2007, p. 115-116). Nevertheless, students are unable to receive detailed qualitative feedback but simply grades on their performance, such that they could not review the strengths and weaknesses in their learning. Furthermore, not all learning goals can be covered in external examinations due to time and content constraints (Harlen, 2007), giving insufficient information on understanding students’ actual competencies (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2019).  It is therefore not the most effective way of tracking students’ learning progress as it may underestimate their true potential.

Formative assessments, which have lower test stakes, can provide more precise details on student development instead (Ho, 2006). Usually, in the form of take-home assignments and in-class quizzes, formative assessments serve as pedagogical methods to facilitate students’ learning (Restrepo & Nelson, 2013). By employing the assessment method systematically, learners could obtain timely corrective feedback from instructors and reflect on their performances (Restrepo & Nelson, 2013), enabling them to effectively pinpoint weaknesses and revise strategies on learning specific topics.      Learners also found to have an increased awareness of the learning targets and are motivated to be more autonomous (Restrepo & Nelson, 2013), ultimately learning.

In the long run, formative assessments can be compiled to form a portfolio, documenting students’ progressive achievements in given areas (Genesee & Upshur, 1996). For evaluators, regardless of teachers or university admission officers, assessment portfolios provide valid and all-inclusive analyses of students’ abilities throughout the whole curriculum more comprehensively (Hanifa, 2017), thence allowing them to make crucial decisions including implementing instructional strategies and selecting aspiring candidates.

Being notorious for its exam-focused culture, Hong Kong has an urgent need to reform its current education system. Considering that drawbacks of HKDSE are detrimental to students’ development and causing unfairness, education officers should painstakingly scrutinize each alternative, for example placing a higher emphasis on admission interviews and adopting portfolio-based assessments that are proposed in this essay, so as to evaluate students’ true potential validly and reliably. Still, the reformation will not be a simple job in light of the preeminent status of standardized testing in the field of education (Hanifa, 2017). It is hoped that different stakeholders including students, teachers, parents and the government can reach a consensus soon for the sake of nurturing the future pillars of our society.

 

References

Alliance for Childhood. (2001). Rethink high-stakes testing. Top doctors, educators warn federal push on tests harmful to children’s health, education [Press release]. Retrieved from http://drupal6.allianceforchildhood.org/testing_press_release

b4d2807620b5905136f2977f.pdf

Cameron, A. J., & MacKeigan, L. D. (2012). Development and pilot testing of a multiple mini-interview for admission to a pharmacy degree program. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 76(1), 10. doi: 10.5688/ajpe76110

Carayon, P., Smith, M. J., & Haims M. C. (1999). Work organization, job stress, and work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 41(4), 644-663. doi: 10.1518/001872099779656743

Chan, A. H. S., Chen, K., & Chong, E. Y. L. (2010). Proceedings from IMECS ‘10: Work stress of teachers from primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: International Association of Engineers.

Freeman, R. (2017). The relationship between extracurricular activities and academic achievement. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.nl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?

article=1254&context=diss

Genesee, F., & Upshur, J. A. (1996). Classroom-based evaluation in second language education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hanifa, R. (2017). Proceedings from ACLL ‘17: Teachers’ view on the use of portfolio assessment in secondary schools in Indonesia. Kobe: The International Academic Forum.

Harlen, W. (2007). Criteria for evaluating systems of student assessment. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 33, 15-28. doi: 10.1016/j.stueduc.2007.01.003

Herman, J. L., & Golan, S. (1991). Effects of standardized testing on teachers and learning – Another look. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3efc/26b10d16da31

ee0b30dba25c4cc1a5ca4106.pdf

Ho, E. S. (2006). High-stakes testing and its impact on students and schools in Hong Kong: What we have learned from the PISA studies. KEDI Journal of Educational Policy, 3(1), 69-87. Retrieved from https://www.fed.cuhk.edu.hk/~hkcisa/articles/Ho_2006

_High-stakes_Testing.pdf

Hok Yau Club. (2019). Pressure survey of HKDSE candidates [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.hyc.org.hk/files/press/20190331_Appendix%201_Pressure%20

Survey%20of%20DSE%20Candidates.pdf.

Jones, B. D., & Egley R. J. (2007). Learning to take tests or learning for understanding? Teachers’ beliefs about test-based accountability. The Education Forum, 71, 232-248. doi: 10.1080/00131720709335008

Lam, Y. M. L. (2006). Teacher stress encountered by Hong Kong secondary and primary school teachers: Similarity and disparity. Retrieved from HKU Scholars Hub. (b3759867)

Legislative Council. (2014, 20 May). Council meeting of 21 May 2014: Amendments to Hon Michael Tien’s motion on “Returning a happy childhood to students” [Memorandum]. Retrieved from https://www.legco.gov.hk/yr13-14/english/counmtg/motion/m_papers/cm0521cb3-663-e.pdf

Morris, P. (1996). The Hong Kong school curriculum: Development, issues and policies (2nd ed.). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

National Council of Teachers of English. (2014). How standardized tests shape—and limit—student learning. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b5f0/1718631dc982

Ngai, A., Chan, S., & Cheung, S. (2013). Private tutoring of primary and secondary school students in Hong Kong. Retrieved from https://yrc.hkfyg.org.hk/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/09/SCYI01-Private-Tutoring-of-Primary-and-Secondary-School-Students.pdf

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2019). Synergies for better learning: An international perspective on evaluation and assessment. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Poulsen, J., & Hewson, K. (2014). Standardized testing: Fair or not? Light on Teaching, pp. 30-36. Retrieved from https://www.uleth.ca/sites/default/files/LightOnTeaching2013-20142-             low.pdf.

Prodromou, L. (1995). The backwash effect: from testing to teaching. ELT Journal, 49(1), 13-25. doi: 10.1093/elt/49.1.13

Restrepo, A., & Nelson, H. (2013). Role of systematic formative assessment on students’ views of their learning. Profile Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development, 15(2), 165-183. Retrieved from https://revistas.unal.edu.co/index.php/profile/article/view/

40175/42066

Simpson, C. (2016). Effects of standardized testing on students’ well-being. Retrieved from https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/files/eap/files/c._simpson_effects_of_testing_on_well_being_5_16.pdf

Smith, M. L., Edelsky, C., Draper, K., Rottenberg, C., & Cherland, M. (1989). The role of testing in elementary schools. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f5f1/

8f3f43be718e7278802872ccf38c8ed59f2b.pdf

The Curriculum Development Council & Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. (2007). English Language: Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 – 6). Retrieved from http://www.hkeaa.edu.hk/DocLibrary/SBA/HKDSE/

Eng_DVD/doc/HKEAA_eng_lang_final.pdf

The Curriculum Development Council. (2017). Secondary education curriculum guide. Retrieved from https://www.edb.gov.hk/attachment/en/curriculum-development/renewal/Guides/SECG%20Introduction_en_20180831.pdf

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. (2010, January 6). LCQ15: New senior secondary subject information [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201001/06/P201001060155.htm

The University of Hong Kong. (n.d.). Interview schedule. Retrieved from HKU Admissions and Academic Liaison Section website: https://aal.hku.hk/admissions/local/admissions-information?page=interview-schedule

Trice, L. B., & Foster, P. H. (2008). Improving nursing school diversity through use of a group admission interview. Aorn Journal, 87(3), 522-532.

doi: 10.1016/j.aorn.2007.10.001

Wightman, L. F. (2003). Standardized testing and equal access: A tutorial. In M. J. Chang, D. Witt, J. Jones & K. Hakuta (Eds.), A compelling interest: Examining the evidence on racial dynamics in colleges and universities. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/~hakuta/www/policy/racial_dynamics/Chapter4.pdf

January 24, 2020   No Comments

Special Issue 2019 – Outbound TP (Taiwan)

Outbound TP to Dominican International School in Taipei

On 24th August, a group of 12 final year ELED students set off for an outbound teaching practice at Taipei. Their destination: Dominican International School, a Catholic, private, international school located in the outskirts of the city. The group was assigned to teach English Language, including English for Academic Purposes as well as Language Arts. Student levels range from primary one to secondary four.

“There is no formula in teaching”

During the stay, we noted the starkly different teaching and learning styles amongst teachers and learners. Serving the same lesson objectives, some of them liked to pleasantly occupy their learners with various activities; some of them preferred to incorporate more critical, evaluative discussion sessions into their lessons; while some of them would adopt a discovery approach and let students learn through projects. At first, we were concerned that the mismatch in teaching styles may affect students’ knowledge acquisition, but we soon realised that teachers with different personal qualities, cultural backgrounds and learning experiences will undoubtedly shape the way they teach. The key is, therefore, not to imitate what other educators do, but to envision our own teaching styles and shape our learners in concordance to our own personalities and beliefs.

“Be flexible! Don’t be too harsh on yourself.”

As student teachers, we not only developed professional competency on how to tackle various challenges and teach a curriculum that is not at all familiar to us, but also to adapt and synthesize our past teaching experiences together with the theoretical knowledge acquired through lectures and tutorials. In particular, a great amount of flexibility must be adopted within each class and lesson as it was very difficult to gauge the level of students. While some lessons were more successful than others, the professional dialogue and reflection after each teaching day provided us with the necessary input and encouragement to improve. Through the mutual support of classmates, collective brainstorming and analysis of lesson plans and actual teaching, we could transform our experience into concrete suggestions for future teaching and professional development.

“Be flexible! Be proactive! Be a competent teacher!”

This outbound teaching practice was an invaluable internship experience for us prospective teachers in developing a more international outlook towards the profession. In such a globalised and multicultural city like Hong Kong, a city heavily influenced by both western philosophies and Confucius Heritage Culture, it was refreshing to experience the innovative practices of an integrated, infused and intermixed cultures within a school.

Here are two videos that we would like to share with you:

Full Video (Including teaching and reflections!):

Slideshow of Photos:

September 12, 2019   No Comments

Issue 25: Significance of Memory in Migrant Literature: In Retrospection

By Cedric Wong (ELED graduate)

Abstract

The time that we remember, the way that we remember, the fact that we remember, is perhaps, more important than what is being remembered. In Bharati Mukherjee’s Nostalgia, an Indian doctor Dr Patel who established a successful career in America remains constantly longing for his Indian roots based on his romanticized memory of India. André Aciman’s Shadow Cities, he documents his own life across continents, and talks about how memory, including distorted memory, reacts with changes in his identity. These two stories are full of distorted, emotion-laden, implicit and collective memory. In Bharati Mukherjee’s Nostalgia and André Aciman’s Shadow Cities, the characters’ timing, manner of remembering and the fact that they remember, and forget, shapes the characters’ thinking and behaviour.

 

 

In the stories, memory can be manipulated and romanticized. In Nostalgia, Dr Patel met Padma across a place called “New Taj Mahal” and they met in a fancy, “upscale” restaurant (Mukherjee 21, 30). Taj Mahal palace is a great representation of the Indian tradition and memory, and the shop named New Taj Mahal, which sells Indian food—the rice and spice—did stir up some of Dr Patel’s childhood memory of home. Yet, the author’s decision to call that shop “New” Taj Mahal means that what Dr Patel was remembering was not the memory at its raw, untouched and original state, but a re-interpreted, or re-invented memory that romanticizes India. This is because the India which makes him feel “nostalgic” was, interestingly, never in his childhood memory (Mukherjee, 35).Given that he was son of a peasant, it is very unlikely that he had been to any sophisticated restaurants in his hometown, any one close to the one he visited in American: with “tablecloths”, good-quality “music” , filled with smell of “rose petals” and has a “hors d’ oeuvres” (Mukherjee, 30). And it is quite likely that women in his deprived hometown do no wear “24-caratt gold…pearls, rubies, emeralds” all at the same time all the time. However, He felt homesick when he visited the nice restaurant and slept with Indian women. He had not dined in such nice restaurant in India, yet felt nostalgic in one, which seem to suggest his memory of Indian has been improved in and only in retrospection. Perhaps, his childhood memory of India was never that good—there are no fancy restaurants and women there did not wear 24-carat gold, but thinking in retrospect, he somehow manipulated and fatacized the India in his memory into a better one. This romanticized and idealized version of Indian is found only Dr Patel’s memory, not in his history. The restaurant, or even Padma, represents an Orientalist fantasy, a stereotypical view held by many Western people, not the real, grounded, Indian history.  In Shadow Cities, Aciman made it clear that he went to Straus Park to remember an “unreal Alexandria” (Aciman, 49). This invented Alexandria “did not exist…out there” but exists inside “just me” (Aciman, 49). Since Aciman has been away from Alexandria for so long, and he left Alexandria when he was young, it is reasonable to think that what Alexandria has left in his memory is piecemeal and fragmental. The memory gaps needed in the formation of an organic impression of Alexandria might perhaps be simply a product of imagination, fabrication and fantasy. Based on his wishful thinking, his memory of Alexandria is formed, though without much material basis. Also in Shadow Cities, when the narration was small, he used to “invent” a city beyond the sea (Aciman, 43). Although the city was mere imagination, it was a part of his memory. Even his memory of the park itself contains imagination. He mentally restored (aka imagined) the past of the park by placing mental “transparency” over the current scene (Aciman 47). This echoes the view that memory can be distorted and memory is malleable, as mentioned in class.

 

A second significance of memory in the stories is that implicit memory is used to show the mindset of the characters. According to psychologists, there are explicit and implicit memories. Explicit memories are those that could be declared or talked about. Dr Patel, for example, can declare that he is an American because he remembers explicitly the memory episodes of becoming an American in “a Manhattan courthouse”, voting for Ronald Reagan or burning his “Indian Society membership card” (Mukherjee, 28). These are memory episodes or images which can be articulated and described. However, his implicit, or procedural memory, makes his, implicitly, an Indian. He has an Indian brain, wired with the Indian way of thinking. This is evident when he converted dollars into “rupees”, the Indian currency, which means he still compares numbers and values using the Indian mindset (Mukherjee, 23). Also, he felt resentful when he was mistaken as a Pakistani. If he had treated himself as an American, not in Indian, he would not have felt resentful, since it is the Indians who have the bitter memory of having wars with Pakistan. Also, he felt regretful that he “hadn’t reciprocated” his parents devotion (Mukherjee, 24). This idea of having to reciprocate the parents is definitely an Indian (or pan-Eastern) way of thinking. In America, as far as I know, many university graduates tend to pursue an independent life, and paying back the parents might not be generally seen as a mainstream way of life. So by thinking that he had to reciprocate his parents, he was, in fact, positioning himself in an ethical web of human relations, which is distinctively Eastern or collectivist. He retained, in his implicit memory, an Indian interpersonal sense of obligation. Another example is his aesthetics. Beauty is highly culturally-determinant. It is almost certain that he learnt in his childhood that beautiful women, who are called “goddess”, have “narrow waists”, “dress in colorful “silk sari” and wear oriental accessories (Mukherjee, 25). The fact that he calls Padma a “goddess” repeatedly and imagine her in traditional (perhaps fantacized) Indian clothes shows that this particular Indian perception of aesthetic remained in his memory and is carried to his seemingly American life. Although Dr Patel can be officially declared an American, his implicit memory, thus his way of thinking, defined him from the rest. In Shadow Cities, Aciman’s behavior of visiting the park can be traced back to his memory of being an exile. It is not just his history of moving around, but also his vivid remembering of moving around, which makes him visit Straus Park. As he said, visiting the park is “part of” remembering it (Aciman, 44).  If he has forgotten his exile, maybe, his feelings to the Park might not be that strong. Our personality and our behaviors are rooted in our memory.

 

And implicit memory cannot be avoided, especially in times of crisis. In Nostalgia, Dr Patel hired prostitutes, when he was “possessed” by an older him. The oldness might be referring to the traditional Indian (perhaps specifically Hindus) notion of polygamy. “Possess” here deserve some close reading, as the word is usually associated with spiritual possession, which, according to Indian folklore, is un-avoidable and cannot be gotten rid of easily. Memory is like spiritual possession, when it attacks, people act accordingly and cannot fight back or get rid of it easily, especially in times of vulnerability. Apart from hiring prostitutes, another example is near the ending. Procedural memory is difficult to articulate or describe, but when it is needed, people can act according to the procedural memory readily, like we remember how we ride a bike, spin a pen or go to toilet. After Dr Patel dealt with the scam, he squatted “like a villager…in a way he had done in his father’s home” (Mukherjee, 37). This illustrates that, in times of vulnerability, implicit memory comes back and people act according to it, perhaps for comfort. According to Sigmund Freud, a regression to childhood behaviours or way of thinking offers a feeling of assurance, familiarity, continuity, stability. This is why implicit memory is inescapable in times of crisis.

 

To further the point on assurance and familiarity, memory is loaded with emotion. Unlike photocopying which is all about the record per se, remembering, in the stories, inevitably conjures up emotions. In Nostalgia, Dr Patel “missed” his parents (Mukherjee, 23). When he was remembering his parents, not only did he recalls images of them, he felts homesick, “regret” and “longing” (Mukherjee, 24). On the other hand, when Dr Patel drank masala tea he felt, not just delicious, but also calm. This might be related to some calming memory related to malasa in his past. Similarly, in Shadow Cities, Aciman, said that, paradoxically, being lost can be “reassuring, comforting” (Aciman, 44 ). It is not being lost which matters, it is the re-living of the memory which offers calm and familiarity. This is perhaps why he wants everything in his memory including the Straus Park “to remain the same” because any change makes him feel “fear” —a fear of loss (Aciman, 39). Human memory carries an affective dimension.

 

Another dimension of memory is collective memory, or the lack of it. In Nostalgia, Dr Patel missed his parents and yet he could not share his longing with his wife because she would not understand. This is, presumably, because his wife has not shared any similar experience or feeling. This lack of collective memory perhaps undertones their relationship of being slightly alienated and not always satisfying. Since memory is loaded with emotions, perhaps, what matters more is, not what is being remembered, but what emotion is loaded with the memory. If people can feel the same memory in similar past experiences, albeit the actual difference of what is remembered, they share collective memory, in a broad sense. In Shadow Cities, Mrs Danziger, Kurt Appelbaum and the narrator/author/Aciaman seem to share the memory of an outcast or exile. This bonds them. It is hinted by the tattoo that Mrs Danziger was a marginalized member in Nazi Germany, according to discussion in class. Kurt Appelbaum, also a German, immigrated to America and was left alone towards the end of his career (Obituaries). Other people in the homeless people, drunk people and drug addicts are also outcasts of the society. It might be because of their common feeling and memory of being outcasts that put them together. According to psychologists, people with the same energy, or in this case, the same memory of being an outcast, attract each other. This may also explain why Dr Patel, in Nostalgia, are surrounded by ethnic and social minorities: Chinese colleague, Jamaican nurse, Chinese family friend and schizophrenics. This echoes the class discussion that, identity is about being identical, in this case, identical in sharing the same memory of an exile.

 

As suggested, our memory shape our cognition and affection so much, and whether we share collective memory affect our relation, the act of remembering itself is highly significant. Memory constitutes our thinking and action, and so, remembering is soul-searching. It is, as suggested in Shadow Cities, “contemplation” and “finding oneself” (Aciman, 41). In recalling his memories of moving around, Aciman confirmed his identity as an exile. In recalling his memories related to India, Dr Patel, in similar ways, reinforces his Indian facet of character and fantasizes about India. For Aciman, it is the remembering, not so much what is remembered that matters.

 

But it is not just the remembering that shape the character, the forgetting, too. Forgetting, in many cases, is a natural process as time gone by, which also shape the characters. Dr Patel could “no longer retrieve…some boyhood emotions” (Mukherjee, 23). This means that he is no longer a boy; he is a man, independent of family. In Shadow Cities, the narrator’s fear of forgetting the imagined city beyond the sea perhaps signifies his fear of loss. And the fact that he forgot “what the old Straus Park looked like” means some part of his memory becomes implicit.

 

We have explored the different facets of remembering. The characters remember in times of crisis, vulnerability and loss. They remember with fascination and imagination. They remember and they forget. The time that they remember, the way that they remember, the fact that we remember, is perhaps, more important than what is being remembered. Remembering, per se, is soul-searching. Remembering is idealizing. Remembering is shaping oneself.

 

Works Cited

Aciman, André. “Shadow cities.” NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS 44 (1997):     35-37.

Mukherjee, Bharati. “Nostalgia.” India. Tradition and Change: Five Short Stories (2007): 57-66.

Obituaries. The New York Times. February 01, 1990. Retrieved     http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/01/obituaries/kurt-appelbaum-pianist-84.html

July 2, 2019   No Comments

Issue 25: Globalization and Cultural Diversity: The case of McDonald’s in Hong Kong

By Angus Cheng (ELED Year 5 student)

McDonald’s is a popular American fast food chain across the globe. As defined by Knight and deWit (1997), globalization refers to “the-flow-of-technology, economy, knowledge, people, values, [and] ideas across borders” (p.6). The spread of McDonald’s fast food from America shows the flow of economy across borders. Ritzer (1992) proposed “the fast food restaurants are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world.” (p.1). Hence, some people may consider the expansion of McDonald’s as a form of American imperialism and a threat to cultural diversity. However, in Hong-Kong, McDonald’s has introduced products to enhance cultural diversity. One obvious example is the rice burger Fàn-tastic. With reference to the McDonald’s rice burger in Hong-Kong, this essay illustrates how globalization has enhanced cultural diversity through glocalization, stimulating creativity and mixing various cultures.

Fàn-tastic, which is a rice burger, was first introduced in-2006. This product takes the form of a hamburger but the slices of bread are replaced with rice patties with mushroom (see-Figure 1). The product has undergone changes throughout the years and new elements have been added. The product itself and the modification of the product show that cultural diversity is promoted when ideas flow from different parts of the world to Hong-Kong.

Figure 1: Advertisement of Fàn-tastic in 2006

Globalization has enhanced cultural diversity through glocalization. Glocalization refers to the process that international products undergo adaptations to local culture (Hong-&-Song, 2010). According to the press release, “McDonald’s Hong Kong has developed [the-rice-burger] from extensive customer research into the food choices and ingredients preferred by Hong-Kong people.” (“McDonald’s”, 2006) The culture of eating burgers flow from America to Hong-Kong and with the adaptation to the local rice-eating culture, the Fàn-tastic rice burger is developed. This reflects that due to glocalization, McDonald’s has provided customers with a new variety of fast food by blending local elements with the American fast food culture.

Moreover, the flow of linguistic knowledge under globalization has stimulated creativity. Ryan (2006) argued that “globalization could not happen without [the English-language]” (p.28). Under globalization, English has become a lingua franca, a global common language. When the knowledge of English flows from the Western countries to Hong-Kong and comes into contact with Cantonese, people has a new perspective to make use of language in advertising. Jackson (2014) suggested that “the sharing of diverse perspectives can generate novel ideas for products, customer interaction strategies and advertising methods” (p.276). The name of the rice burger has shown that new linguistic codes in advertising are created through the process of code-mixing. The rice burger is named as ‘飯-tastic’, a code-mixed term of Cantonese and English. The code-mixed term means ‘rice is fantastic’ as the word ‘飯’ means rice. Phonemically, ‘飯-tastic’ and ‘fantastic’ shares the same pronunciation (/fæntæstɪk/). Globalization has enhanced cultural diversity as the knowledge of language facilitated bilingual language play in advertising.

Globalization has also enhanced cultural diversity by creating a heterogeneous culture. The flow of ideas comes from different parts of the world. Apart from the American fast food culture, the Japanese animation culture has also infiltrated into Hong Kong. Pieterse (2015) suggested that cultural mixing across different regions in the world is observable. It is observed that the rice burger is further modified in-2016 by integrating element from-Japan. The-burger is presented as the Japanese egg-like character Gudetama (see-Figure 2). A heterogeneous culture is formed as the whole product is a mixture of American, Japanese and Hong-Kong culture.

Figure 2: Advertisement of Fàn-tastic in 2016

All in all, the case of McDonald’s in Hong Kong shows that globalization allows the flow of economy, knowledge and idea across the world and hence enhances cultural diversity through glocalization, stimulating creativity and creating a heterogeneous culture.

 

 

References

Hong, P. Y. P., & Song, I. H. (2010). Glocalization of social work practice: Global

and local responses to globalization. International Social Work53(5), 656-670

Jackson, J. (2014). Introducing language and intercultural communication.

Routledge.

Knight, J., & de Wit, H. (Eds.). (1997). Internationalisation of higher education in 

Asia Pacific countries. European Association for International Education.

McDonald’s Makes Rice Fantastic By Launching The New Chicken Fàn-tasticTM

and Beef Fàn-tasticTM. (2006, March 20). Retrieved October 18, 2016, from

http://campaign.mcdonalds.com.hk/english/about/press/press.asp?id=060320

Pieterse, J. N. (2015). Globalization and culture: Global mélange. Rowman &

Littlefield.

Ritzer, G. (1992). The McDonaldization of society. Pine Forge Press.

Ryan, S. (2006). Language learning motivation within the context of globalisation: An

L2 self within an imagined global community. Critical inquiry in language studies: An international Journal3(1), 23-45.

 

July 2, 2019   No Comments

Issue 25: Drawing

By Trista Tang (ELED Year 5 student)

Sky is blue, leaves are green, sun is red.

A glass bottle is probably white?

 

Look…

This is a glass bottle on a dark blue cotton cloth in a room.

Dark blue, yellow, white and grey.

A combination of colours

can make things disappear.

 

Look…

I can see strings of light grey and milky yellow in the bluish sky,

greyish blue and carbon black in a white clock.

Tears of laughter, fear in anger.

That’s how our lives are constructed by shades of colours.

July 2, 2019   No Comments

Issue 25: Sunrise

By Nick Chan (ELED Year 5 student) 

 

Neon lights fading,

Cheers subsided,

Broken glass of Tsingtao bottles everywhere,

And the stinking vomit – they must have had too much pizza.

A few Gwailous round the corner,

Drunk and sober.

At night, they revel.

At sunrise, I suffer.

I hold my broomstick and push my cart.

A few contemptuous stares,

As dark as the suits and ties they wear.

I sweep along,

As I look up at the sun,

And get looked down upon in Lan Kwai Fong.

___________________________________

Gwailous — A Cantonese term for Westerners

 

July 2, 2019   No Comments

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer
Copyright © 2014. All Rights Reserved. Faculty of Education. The Chinese University of Hong Kong.