A standardized phonetic system for Taiwanese will be introduced by the end of August, Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) announced yesterday at a conference of educational professionals at the National Institute for Compilation and Translation (國立編譯館).
The conference on "mother tongue" education reviewed the quality of teaching materials that are being used for teaching Taiwanese, Hakka and Aboriginal languages around the nation, and considered actions that could be taken to improve the current confused situation in the area of phonetic systems.
Romanization has been a controversial issue in Taiwan, with concurrent use of Tungyung Pinyin, Hanyu Pinyin and variations of the Wade-Giles system for Mandarin Chinese.
The situation for Taiwanese is equally complex, with Tungyung, Taiwanese Language Phonetic Alphabet (TLPA) and Taiwanese Roman Orthography -- as well as several variations of these -- ?currently being used in the educational system.
Last month, the Ministry of Education initiated a study of Taiwanese "mother tongue" education at the primary and secondary school level. The results, which were released yesterday, commended the diversity of teaching materials that had been produced by teachers around the country. However, the ministry said the lack of a standardized system within the education system creates problems for both teachers and students, especially when transferring from one institution to another.
According to Liang Jung-mao (
Tu emphasized that "ease of teaching, ease of learning" would be the main criteria for selection, and hoped the choice could avoid any controversy over purely academic issues.
Tu pointed out at the conference that the debate over "mother tongue" education tends to focus exclusively on language, at the expense of history, culture and geography.
Tu added that while the public and media tended to see a standardized phonetic system as central to "mother tongue" education, it was not greatly significant for teachers in the classroom.