Tue, Aug 21, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Educator utterly misinform

Chang Ruishiung (張瑞雄) may be the vice president of a university, but this doesn't seem to stop him from writing some utter nonsense ("Reform needed in higher education," Aug. 16, page 8).

First, the monstrous factual mistake in his article. According to Chang, "the foreign students who now come to Taiwan are all from countries that aren't doing very well economically."

I wasn't aware that the US, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands aren't doing well economically, yet this must be the case, as I count people from those countries studying at Taiwanese universities among my friends.

Chang must have either never heard of collecting data before stating "facts," or doesn't know how to, which is equally bad. Or perhaps he believes his Dong Hwa University is the only university in Taiwan that has foreign students.

One quick peek at the student population of National Taiwan Normal University's Mandarin Training Center would have sufficed to show that there is a host of students from very affluent countries studying here. The state of cross-state relations doesn't seem to stop them from coming to Taiwan in great numbers, another misconception of Chang's.

Then the idea that universities should teach more classes in English to attract foreign students. Isn't the first and foremost goal of a country's education system to educate the people of that country, and isn't the best way to achieve this by teaching people in their mother tongue, rather than in their second or third language? Not to mention the small problems that, first, only a small minority of university professors will have a good enough command of English to teach in that language, and second, if we are to believe many a letter to the editor published in this paper, the command of English of the average Taiwanese student is even more deplorable, rendering it impossible for them to actually understand classes taught in English.

It is the foreign students who should learn Chinese in order to be able to study at Taiwanese universities, not the other way around.

Something else that Chang, like many of his fellow countrymen, conveniently forgets, is that not all foreigners are fluent in, or even speak, English, and as far as many a foreigner is concerned, courses might as well be taught in Chinese. (Before people wonder at this statement, I suppose I have to add here that South Koreans and Japanese are also foreigners, as are people from South America.)

All in all, the fact that someone who can write such utterly misinformed things is vice president of a university is an excellent illustration of the sorry state he says the Taiwanese education system is in.

Anna Stiggelbout

Taipei

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