Thu, Jul 24, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Taipei English camp offered free of charge

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Students practice ordering meals in English while Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, right, pretends to be a restaurant clerk at the Underprivileged English Summer Camp held at Taipei Municipal Wenhua Elementary School yesterday.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

To decrease the gap in English learning ability between the rich classes and the poor, the Taipei Bureau of Education held the Underprivileged English Summer Camp (關懷弱勢兒童英語夏令營) for Aboriginal and poor students during the summer vacation.

"English and information are two of the most important tools of the 21st century. About 90 percent of Web sites are displayed in English. Shortening the `digital divide' and the learning gap is important," said Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Ma yesterday attended the summer camp at Taipei Municipal Wenhua Elementary school and had lunch with the pupils. There were 15 Aboriginal students and 42 students from low-income families, from 11 different elementary schools. The summer camp, running from July 21 to July 25, was free of charge.

"I hope this camp serves as a special opportunity for children of minority groups to improve their English-speaking abilities," said Ma.

Yesterday's course was entitled Yummy Fast Food. Pupils learned how to use English to order meals in a fast-food restaurant and Ma served as the restaurant clerk accepting orders from students. Pupils lined up holding their trays and ordered the fast food from Ma.

"What do you like to have?" Ma asked a boy in fourth grade. "I want a drum stick, corn bread and coke," said the boy. Ma corrected his pronunciation for the word `drum' three times, later emphasizing that pronunciation is important when learning English.

"There is no short cut when learning English. It has nothing to do with talent. As long as you study hard, you can speak English well," Ma said to the pupils.

The instructors at the summer camp are the English teachers of the Wenhua Elementary School, said Kao Min-li (高敏麗), the academic chief of Wenhua Elementary School.

"We integrated learning into practical activities and focused on teaching practical and useful words to students," English teacher Lin Li-hua (林麗華) said.

"Some teachers read the Taipei Times to look for teaching elements," Lin said.

The Taipei Bureau of Education allocated NT$430,000 to two English summer camps. However, Kao said the budget was not sufficient.

"We still have to raise money from the parents committee and other private companies. The budget is tight," Kao said

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