Encourage global English
In response to the inviting and insightful commentary by Li Chen-ching (李振清) (“Use book fair to highlight Taiwan,” Feb. 11, page 8), I have the following thoughts to share:
First, Taiwanese seem to value Europe more than Asia in the academic exchange of higher education. It seems that some universities invest considerable resources in recruiting a few European students to make their campuses look more like a “global” environment with more Western faces. Perhaps European culture is seen as superior to Asian culture and having more European students on campus makes a campus more “Westernized” and more “global.”
However, that is a cultural bias as well as an unwise investment. Students and universities can surely benefit from European students academically and culturally, but Taiwanese can learn as much, if not more, from Asian students.
Though mostly not native English speakers, Asian students contribute — via the medium of English — to the cross-cultural understanding and literacy of Taiwanese students and teaching professionals.
More significantly, they facilitate the practice of English as an international language through the authentic use of “global English” with people other than native English speakers.
Due to their geographical, cultural, historical and cultural proximity, there is common ground between Taiwan and other Asian countries and their peoples. Their involvement in the nation’s globalized environment enriches cultural variety and vitality as well as linguistic diversity, enhancing the quality and dynamics of globalized higher education.
Moreover, while it is appropriate to highlight the wide range of perspectives available in foreign works written in English by native speakers about their experiences in Taiwan to promote Taiwan more effectively, efforts should highlight books written by foreigners with a native language other than English who tell interesting and touching life stories about Taiwan in lucid English and help disseminate our culture to the world. Such works would also serve as stimulating and refreshing learning materials for students of English-language classes, aside from the value of teaching students to treasure something that is close at hand.
It takes vision, cultural impartiality and effective strategies to achieve high-quality, competitive globalization of higher education in Taiwan. Given the opportunity, everyone can do their part to make Taiwan more visible and understood in the global arena.