Sat, Jul 02, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Race, bigotry and English

By Raymond Chin

I'd like to contribute to the ongoing debate on English proficiency in Taiwan.

I completely agree with Adam Coates and Bruce Yang's responses to the comments made by Scott Austin about Taiwan. Austin should not complain and this is why: I'm a Chinese person who was born and raised in India, but I now consider Taiwan my home country. While in India, I always thought I was Chinese due to my ethnic background and also due to my features, until I came to Taiwan.

I realized that I was more Indian than Chinese as I speak Mandarin with an accent. Although I speak fluent English, albeit with a slight Indian accent, many Taiwanese who could not speak one sentence of proper English looked at me condescendingly and with prejudice because I did not speak American English and because I came from India, not North America or Europe.

I believe that English should be used to communicate, rather than as a status symbol. There's no point in emphasizing "North American" English because there are many more countries in the world that use English on a daily basis.

I tried to work as an English teacher here but failed terribly at it, partly due to the fact that I am not Caucasian. I assume that Austin is Caucasian, and by just this measure, he was probably more successful than me. It was through this experience that one realizes the Taiwanese consider Caucasians superior because of the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes.

Lastly, I feel that all these discussions between native English speakers are pointless when the discussion is about the Taiwanese people. It's not likely that many Taiwanese have read what Austin wrote in this letter, so their opinions will remain unknown. I think that the Taipei Times should translate into Mandarin some letters it receives from losers like Austin, and print them in the Liberty Times in order to get reactions from the general public.

Raymond Chin

Taipei

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