Ruby Hsu (徐薇), founder of one of the nation’s largest English cram school chains, expressed the same concern earlier this month. In critical remarks on a TVBS talk show, she said that the Taiwanese curriculum requires elementary-school students to memorize only 200 English words in six years, while students in Hong Kong and Singapore must memorize 1,000 words in the same time, and Chinese students must memorize 800.
How can Taiwan’s English-language education be competitive under such circumstances?
Hopefully, the government will learn from the recent incident and try to improve the nation’s English education so Taiwanese students can catch up with those from the four Asian Tigers and the Philippines. If Taiwan’s students cannot write or speak even basic English, how will they ever be able to take part in international negotiations?
Chang Sheng-en is an assistant professor of English at Shih Hsin University.