2010-2012 Flagship student Alexandra Draggeim recently stood in an auditorium full of Chinese students and teachers and finished up her speech three seconds short of the time limit, to the audience’s applause. She delivered her 5-minute speech entitled “我知、我行、我自豪” ( “I know, I act, and I am proud”) as part of Guizhou Normal University’s teaching and administrative staff speech contest on September 28, 2011. Alexandra, the only foreigner and the representative of the School of International Tourism and Culture won second place.
An intern at Guizhou Normal University School of International Tourism and Culture, Alexandra (龙莎夏) works with the dean, Dr. Xiaosong Zhang, on preserving minority culture through developing tourism. At the same time she is doing research in her area of study, Chinese Internet slang. When she is not accompanying the dean on trips to nearby villages or working in the School’s office, she also teaches one four-hour English course per week, “Tourism English,” to third-year undergraduate students. It is her experience in the University’s English classroom that provided her with some ideas for the speech--in addition to providing her with a small team of loyal supporters who attended the contest to cheer her on.
Although the class has about 60 students, far more than in any of the Flagship classes that she took in Columbus, Alexandra has still found Ohio State’s Performed Culture pedagogy technique to be very effective. After introducing a topic, she breaks students into small groups and has them perform in specified situations, emphasizing the importance of cultural context, and adding important information about cultural references, useful phrases, and other areas that might help the students better understand American culture. She noticed that the students not only learned a lot by using English in practical situations, but also that this kind of interactive classroom environment made them much more active and interested in the subject.
With this in mind, she emphasized in her speech the importance of the relationship between language and culture, as well as of a teacher’s ability to inspire students to become interested in the subject, which became the central theme of her presentation. As she emphasized in her speech, “as language teachers, we must have a passion for other languages and cultures, and transfer this passion to our students.”
Watch Alexandra's award winning speech on Youtube.