‘Kind, righteous’ KMT
Speaking at the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) congress, former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said with tears that the “KMT is a kind, righteous party and not good at political wrangling.”
Wu hopefully cried because he said something that went against his conscience.
If the KMT were kind and righteous, Wu would not have first heard of the postponement of the party congress from China in August, the KMT would have returned its ill-gotten party assets to Taiwanese, as once suggested by Wu, and the KMT would not have held secret meetings (with Wu as one of the participants) with China to betray Taiwanese economically and politically. There would be nobody throwing shoes at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) either.
If the KMT were kind and righteous, tens of thousands of Taiwanese would not have been massacred in the 228 Incident in 1947 and Taiwanese would not have to suffer 38 years of martial law and White Terror. The courts would not have been described as being operated by the KMT. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) would have been acquitted like Ma and many other indicted KMT officials.
If the KMT were not good at political wrangling, it would not have protested noisily and violently for months against its defeats in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Ma would not have attempted to oust Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).
Wu does not understand the Taiwanese saying “soft soil is dug deeply (軟土深掘).”
He should know that the KMT has never been like soft soil; it is and has always been a fierce party (鴨霸) with regard to Taiwanese. Wu must be blind to say the KMT is a “disadvantaged group (弱勢團體).” To Taiwanese, it is the richest political party in the world. However, the KMT is disadvantaged when it meets the Chinese Communist Party.
Don’t panic over TOEIC
It may be true that Test of English for International Communication (TOIEC) scores are lagging, but this does not mean that Taiwan has an English crisis (“Taiwan’s TOIEC scores lagging,” Nov. 9, page 8). The “drop” from last year’s average score was only 3 points, not very much for a test with a maximum score of 990, and it was identical to the score in 2010 and is 6 points higher than the average score in 2008.
As the writer of the article, Shih Hsin University assistant professor of English Chang Sheng-en (張聖恩), points out, in at least one country that outscores Taiwan, those who take the test are already very proficient in English. In others, English is very widely used and is often an official language.
Although there is no crisis, we are interested in doing better. The best single way of improving TOEIC scores, as well as improving nearly all aspects of English-language proficiency, is to encourage pleasure reading in English; study after study has shown that when self-selected reading is included in English classes, there is dramatic improvement in reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar.
Many of the most important of these studies have been done in Taiwan, by Lee Sy-ying (李思穎), a professor at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, and her associates Wang Fei-yu (王費瑜) and Hsieh Ming-yi (謝明義), and Kenneth Smith of the Wenzao Ursuline College of Language.
In addition, professor Beniko Mason of Shitennoji University Junior College in Japan has demonstrated, in a series of studies, that adult students can made substantial gains on the TOEIC simply by reading in English for pleasure, gains that are far superior to those achieved by those taking traditional classes.
Let’s invest in libraries with a good supply of genuinely interesting reading material in English, and include time for pleasure reading in English class. This is a modest investment, one that should be considered before we take more drastic and expensive measures.