Teaching courses in English
The article “Universities ordered to improve English offerings” (July 13, page 3) points out some of the problems in improving the teaching of English at universities, but does not consider things as they stand.
The plight of universities in Taiwan teaching courses in English will probably neither be solved either by a mandate from the government nor by throwing money at it. The problems are cultural and institutional, and those aspects need to be considered if the problems are to be solved.
In most universities the senior faculty are not well-versed in English. That leads to a situation in which courses to be taught in English are relegated to junior faculty, typically new employees who obtained their advanced degrees abroad.
That has two consequences: The first is that the courses are being taught by vulnerable young people, the second is that the courses taught in English are usually introductory courses. Both of these have serious consequences.
Vulnerability is a serious issue because students are smart enough to know that most universities rely heavily of “teaching evaluations” by students in their decisions to renew contracts and promote faculty. So students simply tell the junior faculty that if they insist on using English instead of Chinese in the classroom they will give the teacher very poor evaluations and the teacher will have to look for another job.
No matter what the teacher decides to do, problems will follow. If the teacher accedes to the demand, the contract is much more likely to be renewed, but the “English” will remain in title only. The institution might not even know that its nature has changed.
If, on the other hand, the teacher persists in using English, the results might not be much better. In the first place, the students will slow down the learning rate and important parts of the syllabus will be abandoned. This means that the professors who handle intermediate and advanced courses have no guarantee that key requisites will have been complied with and, what might be worse, the students might know the English terminology, but not the Chinese terminology for handling the more demanding work.
Certainly, a great deal of planning is needed. Part of that is to reduce the weight that teaching evaluations play in decisions about rehiring and promotion.
We must also find a way in which courses taught in English present at least the basic words in Chinese and vice versa, so that no matter at what level the English and Chinese courses are scheduled there will be continuity in teaching.
Moreover, we need to find a way to make junior and senior faculty more flexible in the courses they are willing to handle, and to ensure that the promotion of senior faculty gives due weight to the improvement of language skills in both Chinese and English.
New Taipei City
Exposing predatory teachers
The Humanistic Education Foundation exposed an educational scandal involving a Tainan elementary-school teacher surnamed Chang (張), who goes by the nickname “Big Red Hat,” who [allegedly] sexually abused a total of 36 elementary-school students over a period of 20 years.
After the allegations were confirmed last month, the Tainan Bureau of Education immediately dismissed the teacher and said that it would never re-employ him.
Ironically, Chang has frequently given high-profile lectures on his so-called “whole-blackboard projection teaching method,” which has been praised as “a beautiful scene in the field of education.”
According to the foundation’s investigation, Chang started abusing children in his previous school in 2000, but at the time the school principal, for fear of it having a negative impact on his own pension, took gifts of fruit to the parents’ homes and begged them not to report the abuse.
This attitude of smoothing things over and covering them up is what enabled Chang to be transferred to another school, where he [allegedly] went on with his wicked ways, claiming more and more victims as the years went by.
It has been said by senior teachers in the past that the pervasive attitude in schools of everyone not wanting to make trouble is the main reason abusive teachers feel free to go on abusing children.
If legal action were taken against teachers like this when they first started offending, they would have no further victims.
After the case of the abusive teacher was exposed, the bureau completed its own investigation in less than three months, dismissed Chang and completed the procedure of ensuring that he will never work as a teacher again.
This should serve as a warning to the minority of abusive teachers lurking in our schools, and it is in marked contrast with the past conservative attitude in educational circles of smoothing over the problem.
As for Chang’s “whole-blackboard projection teaching method,” teachers can use it to project text and images from a computer onto a blackboard, rather than doing it in a gloomy projection room.
That is a good thing in itself, but the admiring teachers who follow his method should bear in mind that professionalism is the key factor that decides whether someone’s teaching is successful.
China took advantage of the vacuum left behind when US carriers stayed out of the western Pacific Ocean due to COVID-19 outbreaks on several US Navy warships. The Chinese government is solidifying its hold on artificial islands in the South China Sea by moving in missiles and surveillance equipment, and formalizing its occupation by creating two municipal districts in the region under Hainan Island’s Sansha — Xisha District on Woody Island (Yongxing Island, 永興島) to administer the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) and Nansha District on Fiery Cross Reef (Yongshu Reef, 永暑島) to administer the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) —
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) yesterday wrapped up its annual party conference-cum-national decision-making forums in Beijing: the National People’s Congress (NPC) and National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), known colloquially as the “two meetings.” They are normally tightly choreographed affairs, designed to project an image of stability and unassailable strength, but several events leading up this month’s sessions provided strong indications that all is not well in the state of Denmark. The first sign of major discontent came in March, at the height of the COVID-19 crisis in China, when an article by real-estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
Chung Yuan ChristiaN University is clearly in bed with the People’s Republic of China. This can be the only explanation why the school’s authorities have done their utmost to shield a student, who lodged a complaint against an associate professor, and then used thuggish tactics to compel the teacher to issue two separate apologies to China. The original complaint, filed by an unnamed Chinese student, was for remarks by associate professor Chao Ming-wei (招名威) during a class on the origin of COVID-19. A second complaint was filed by the same student after Chao, during an apology, stated that he was a