Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mark Lai’s Autobiography

Jiin-Chyuan Mark Lai is a researcher concentrating in the area of interdisciplinary language and culture specifically in English and Chinese. Dr. Lai completed his doctoral dissertation, titled “Teaching Culture as Metaphor to Adult Learners in English as a Foreign Language Curriculum”; receiving his Ph.D. degree from University of Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A. in May 2007. In 2003, while serving as an administrative assistant in the student life department at Spalding University, Kentucky, U.S.A, Dr. Lai received the award Presented to MARK LAI for Outstanding Service to Spalding University.Mark Lai spent his childhood in Yunlin county, a purified countryside in Taiwan. Mark Lai started his academic studies in1993. In 1997, Mark Lai received his B.A., majoring in English Language, Literature & Linguistics, from Providence University, Taichung, Taiwan. During his four years of undergraduate life in the university, Mark Lai started seeking research questions regarding language development and its cultural related issues. From his experiences in teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to learners who ranged from elementary school to high school in Taiwan from 1994 to 2001. During this time, he had been working on the improvement of the English language education in Taiwan. In 2001, Mark Lai started his journey in studying abroad in the United States of America.Mark Lai received his M.A., majoring in Curriculum and Instruction (C & I) concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Long Island University, New York, U.S.A. at C.W. Post Campus. While Mark Lai was taking the master’s program in New York, he observed English as a Second Language (ESL) and mainstream classes in elementary and middle schools. He obtained reflections on strategies that EFL teachers in Taiwan might need in order to better EFL students’ learning. The strategies included class setting, using authentic materials and scenarios, and classroom atmosphere. Students from Asia who are studying in U.S.A. or who are negotiating with English speakers are suggested to learn and adapt new cultural metaphors for the purpose of enlarging their communication competence. This new vision led Mark Lai to focus his research in his doctoral program on EFL learners’ cross cultural communication using analogical thinking with cultural metaphors.The formal study of EFL is typically based on teaching students linguistic forms, this is because linguists believed that language is organized around these forms. This model was called the First Generation of Cognitive Linguistics. Current research on language, however, argues for a different model of language learning, often described as the Second Generation of Cognitive Linguistics. Lakoff and Johnson (1980, 1999) argued that language is organized not around linguistic forms, but around cognitive categories. Lakoff (1987) provided the rationale for the claim that language has to do with the organization of ideas and their categories. Moreover, literal translations are impossible due to great disparities between languages, cultures, social histories, and other salient features of symbolic interaction. These perspectives can be seen in Mark Lai’s dissertation. Dr. Mark Lai is focusing his EFL research using mixed-methods on areas of language development and competence, linguistics, cross cultural communication, English-Chinese translation/interpretation, especially translation of culturally-laden language and English/American literature teaching. These focuses are coherent for his research interests. These strategies are also incorporated into classes Mark Lai is teaching in the department of Applied Foreign Language in Transworld Institute of Technology.
My photo
Dou-liu City, Yun-Lin County, Taiwan