Mon, Apr 22, 2002 - Page 2 News List

A half century of teaching Taiwan

`MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY' Doris Brougham, who came to Taiwan in 1951 as a missionary, is now best known for teaching English through her famous radio show, `Studio Classroom'

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Doris Brougham, the founder of the Studio Classroom radio program and the Let's Talk in English magazine, teaches Sunday School in Hualien in the early 1950s.


In 1951, at age 25, she came alone to help improve the lives of the people of Taiwan.

In 1971, when Taiwan was forced out of the UN and some people were scrambling to emigrate, she didn't think about packing up and leaving. Nor did the disastrous 921 earthquake shake her desire to help the people of Taiwan.

Now, more than 50 years after she first set foot in Taiwan, Doris Brougham is still ceaselessly pouring her time and energy into enhancing the English-language skills of the nation's populace.

Known to her students as teacher Peng Meng-hui (彭蒙惠老師), Brougham is the founder of the nation's most popular English radio program, Studio Classroom (空中英語教室), and magazine -- Let's Talk in English (大家說英語).

Brougham's lifelong dedication to Taiwan and its people has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this month President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) honored her with the Order of the Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon (紫色大綬景星勳章) and made her an honorary civil servant of the highest level.

"[Studio Classroom] is an essential classic that young Tai-wanese students cannot do without when studying English," Chen said.

"For 40 years, [Studio Classroom] without doubt, has contributed a lot to advancing Taiwanese youth's global vision, as well as enhancing their English language skills."

Brougham, who was born in Seattle, originally came to Taiwan as a missionary. She said she never intended to work in media and that the success of the Studio Classroom since its establishment in 1962 was a great surprise to her.

"It all started when I thought broadcasting would be a great evangelical way to reach people," Brougham said in fluent Mandarin, recalling her time with the Aborigines in Hualien, a mountainous region in eastern Taiwan where she spent her first three years in Taiwan.

During this time, Brougham also learned to speak the Ami language spoken by the Aboriginal tribe of the same name.

"With permission from Tong Chien-kuan (董顯光), then president of the Broadcasting Corporation of China, I got a free slot to air my program once a week," she said.

"I set up a simple studio in my place and started producing a program that consisted of music, skits and evangelical messages.

"Coincidentally," Brougham said, "shortly afterward, the Ministry of Education wanted broadcasting stations to produce educational programs. It was then that I got an invitation from Fu Hsing Broadcasting Station (復興電台) to host an English-teaching program on air.

"Having witnessed several times Taiwanese youths having a hard time communicating -- and thus losing the opportunity to integrate internationally because of their inadequate English -- I realized there was a strong need to teach them English."

Since Studio Classroom's debut 40 years ago, it has become one of the main supplements to many of Taiwan's English speakers in their English studies.

In 1994, Brougham set up the Doris Brougham Scholarship to award academic excellency.

However, because of the nation's rigid Immigration Law (入出國及移民法), Brougham, like Bjarne Gislefoss (徐賓諾), former superintendent of the Puli Christian Hospital, still can't obtain permanent residency despite dedicating herself to Taiwan for more than 50 years.

"I understand the government has its concerns and reasons to make the law the way it is," Brougham said.

"But it is true that it would have been much more convenient [to have permanent residency] without having to keep an eye on the calendar and keep track of the time until I have to renew my visa."

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