Sun, Mar 09, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Letters:

Quality beats quantity

The chairperson of the teachers' association at National Chu-Pei High School Han Shu-jean (韓淑珍) feels that "Starting English teaching in the third grade rather than in the first grade would be more beneficial to our students" ("Sensitivity to students imperative in curricula," Feb. 28, page 8), because students "should be given more time to lay a firm foundation in Chinese first."

The research on second-language acquisition agrees. It is well-established that younger is not faster; older children acquire second languages faster than younger children. Starting later is thus more efficient. Studies of bilingual education show that those with a better knowledge of the first language do better in second language acquisition.

Students with better education in the first language have more subject-matter knowledge, and this helps them understand more in classes conducted in the second language.

Also, research strongly suggests that aspects of literacy transfer across languages. For example, recent research by Haeyoung Kim of the Catholic University of South Korea, has confirmed that those who develop a recreational reading habit in the first language (Korean) tend to read more in English, which has a strong positive influence on second-language development.

Lee Sy-ying, of National Taipei University, has shown that those who develop efficient writing strategies in their first language (Chinese) tend to develop efficient strategies in English.

Nobody denies the importance of developing competence in English. Ironically, spending less time focusing on English and more time paying attention to the primary language is a very good way to improve English language education.

Stephen Krashen

California

Waiting for UK recognition

I just wanted to congratulate you for your paper and for the article written by Daniel Lynch ("Excluding Taiwan from the world's view," Mar. 3, page 8). I'm married to a Taiwanese woman and this has focused somewhat my long appreciation of the Sino-Taiwanese conflict.

Though it can be argued that the government in Taipei can no longer realistically claim to be the government of China, they do however have a true claim to something the authorities in Beijing have never had, legitimacy through the ballot box.

For too long Taiwan has been denied its place on Earth. God, even Iraq's current regime has more representation. The present situation for me was highlighted when visiting Taiwan last year in August. I still see evidence of the level of importance accorded to the visit by the president of Paraguay. Paraguay, a country whose importance in terms of influence is pretty low was lauded for its recognition of the oxymoronic ROC.

I look forward to the day when my own British government can recognize Taiwan for the free, democratic and dynamic place all those who've been there know it to be.

That feels better.

Sean Hogan

London

A Chinese commission?

I wonder when the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission will start to think Taiwanese.

Since they are asking for "American-born Chinese," I know many of my friends who are "American-born Taiwanese" or "Canadian-born Taiwanese" will not be interested in their activities.

Rather than sponsoring activities and trying to attract overseas Chinese, I hope this Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission will begin to use Taiwanese taxpayers money for Taiwanese.

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