Tue, Apr 09, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Students excited about plan to make English official

By Chang Yu-jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Students at Taipei Municipal Hwa Chiang Senior High School perform during an English-language story-telling contest yesterday. The contest is one of the school's activities aimed at enhancing students' English proficiency.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

As the debate over President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) call to make English Taiwan's second official language continues, teenage participants at a Taipei senior high school's English-language story-telling contest yesterday voiced their support for the proposal.

Over 50 students at Taipei Municipal Hwa Chiang Senior High School (HCSH) participated in the contest, the opening activity of the school's English Week.

"By the time we have graduated from university and are entering the job market, globalization will be much more advanced than at present and it will be very much to the nation's advantage for English to be an official language," one of the students told the Taipei Times.

That remark was echoed by his fellow participants as none of the more than 20 interviewed by the Taipei Times voiced objection to the proposal.

Many said that they regard English as crucial in helping Taiwan interact in the global community.

The school's principal, Wu Ho-Huei (吳和惠), also expressed her support for the proposal, but stressed that it should not be seen as an immediate goal.

"Making English a second official language should be a long-term goal. It will only happen when the English ability of the general public has reached a certain standard," she said.

"That is why I have always stressed the importance of language ability to our students. In fact, I believe the best thing we can do to help them to improve their English is to provide opportunities for them to use what they have learned in class in everyday life," Wu said.

Besides the English story-telling contest, the week-long event will include speech, singing and composition contests, screenings of English-language films and a book fair. Most high schools hold English composition and speech contests, but HCSH has taken the concept much further with its week-long activities.

HCSH has also established student exchange programs involving students from Australia and Singapore.

The school also plans to employ native English speakers to teach English conversation classes.

The Taipei City Government's Bureau of Education does not support the president's proposal.

Tseng Sang-jin (曾燦金), chief of the bureau's second section, told the Taipei Times that "the government must realize that a whole package of complementary policies would have to be adopted if English were to become an official language."

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