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College of Social Sciences’ David Holm talks social responsibility and helping migrant schoolchildren learn Mandarin

[alaya_dropcap]T[/alaya_dropcap]he College of Social Sciences hosted its first workshop on university social responsibility. The theme was to provide an action plan for local students from Vietnam who are at risk of falling through the social cracks in a Mandarin-speaking society.

The day-long program was the result of the CSS and departmental coordination.

That morning the College’s Professor, David L. Holm delivered a presentation on how to present the core “macro-skills” of language learning, listening, speaking, reading, and writing to the migrant students in an effective way. This “shooting the arrow at the target” strategy is designed to understand the needs of the students in order to make sure they don’t slip through the cracks.

There is “no way immigrant kids coming in sideways can compete” says Holm in an interview for the CSS Newsletter. “You’ve got these kids quite basically in limbo.” Migrant children don’t come to Taiwan as students. They come as part of a family. Taiwan has a large migrant worker population, especially from southeast Asian nations like Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. In Muzha, where National Chengchi University is located, there is a heavy Vietnamese population.

The workshop is part of the university and college’s outreach to the local community: National Chengchi University’s University Social Responsibility Action Plan. Taiwanese schools generally are not able to accommodate immigrant students’ needs. Mandarin classes are taught, but are done so in a way that does not tackle the specific requirements of individual students. Blanket methods for teaching often mean different students are left with different knowledge gaps.

There are a number of methods to teach to migrant children, according to Holm, “but it’s not by sitting in ordinary classrooms. “The university has the expertise, says Holm. The department of ethnology, the foreign language center, and various other areas have resources that Taiwanese school teachers could benefit from.

The well attended event received positive feedback from the teachers, some of whom had even traveled from Taoyuan and Taichung to attend.

More workshops are planned.

“It’s worth doing” says Holm, hoping this workshop will make an impact on how teachers target their migrant students. “If the teachers are happy about it, and get something out of it, then it’s definitely worth doing.”