October - December 2017 | Issue 101


Identity Formation
and Scientific
Measurement of
Reading: Lessons
Learnt from
Hawaii and Taiwan

The Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC)Academic Group held its third‘ALC Innovative Seminar Series’ on 13 June 2017. The Series aims to showcase and further develop ALC’s innovation in research and teaching pedagogy through academic discourses.

The seminar was attended by esteemed guests including Mr Yatiman Yusof, former Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Non-Resident High Commissioner to the Republic of Kenya, Non-Resident Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda and Board Member of the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism; Ms Ho Peng, former Director-General of Education and current advisor of Ministry of Education, Deputy Chairperson of NIE Council; Dr Neo Peng Fu, Director, Confucius Institute; and Dr Goh Saye Wee, Assistant Director of Curriculum Planning and Development Division at the Ministry of Education.

ProfessorLeonard Y. Andayaof Southeast Asian History, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, USA, shared his perspectives on ‘The Kacukan Quality of Malay Cultural Identity’. Taking identity as a social construction which is historically determined, he argued that it is necessary to problematise the notion of ‘Malay’to reflect its contextual and adaptive formulations. The talk suggested that a striking characteristic of Malay identity is its ‘kacukan’, or ‘hybrid’ quality, suggesting the adaptability of the people. In his conclusion,Prof Andaya addressed the widely-accepted notion of Islam as an integral part of this identity by using‘Malay’ inhabitants of the Pulau Tujuh archipelagos and the Kapuas River region of Kalimantan Barat as his case studies.

In the second half of the seminar, Professor Ko Hwa-weiof Graduate Institute of Learning and Instruction, National Central University, Taiwangave an address on ‘Reading Chinese: A View from Eye Movement Studies’. Her talkwas well-received by the congregation. During her talk, Professor Ko discussed a series of research done on the eye movement of Chinese readers, and demonstrated that there is the presence of word-based effect, even when characters are identified as distinct units byreaders. She presented data from both children and adults. The data was then presented in the following categories:

  1. Eye patterns of children, from second through sixth grade,as they read different text genres from a developmental perspective
  2. How connectives facilitate reading and how readers integrate semantic units incrementally
  3. How readers solve lexical ambiguity while reading sentences
  4. How college and graduate students with differing levels of physics background process physics-related words.

Furthermore, Professor Ko also discussed how Chinese word characteristics, genre effect, context effect, and readers’ background knowledge lead to different reading processes at different reading stages.

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