Chaim Melamed (Letters, Aug. 5, page 8) approves of English villages but thinks Super English High Schools would be more effective in improving English in Taiwan, especially in improving the quality of teachers' English. Both of these approaches are very expensive. Also, there is no evidence that English villages have any measurable effect on English competence.
There are less expensive options that provide students with the essential ingredient they need: comprehensible English and English input they can understand. In addition, these options are supported by a considerable amount of scientific research.
The first option is to increase the amount of interesting and comprehensible English reading available to students, and provide some time for students to do self-selected reading in school. In addition, discussion of reading and read-alouds are powerful means of increasing interest in reading. The increased availability of books will also improve the quality of teachers' English.
For a fraction of the amount of money it takes to set up a series of English villages and Super English High Schools, which will involve only a tiny percentage of the student population, the Ministry of Education could easily provide adequate reading material for every student in Taiwan.
The second option is to increase the amount of English aural input. Fortunately, this can be done for free, through www.eslpod.com, which provides a wide variety of listening experiences for intermediate students of English as a foreign language.
These are not the only steps to take, but they are inexpensive and obvious ones that might be considered before plunging ahead toward more exotic and costly proposals.
Los Angeles, California