Thu, Jan 12, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Survey points to failings in approach to English lessons

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

In response to concerns about the drop in English ability among students around the country, an education foundation yesterday released the results of a survey assessing children's English education and said it hoped that parents would play a more active role in helping their children to learn English.

The survey was conducted in order to discover the reasons behind the drop in average Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores achieved by Taiwanese students over the past few years. Taiwan ranked 21st out of 28 Asian countries in the 2003 to 2004 TOEFL placements.

The survey, targeting parents of elementary and junior high school students, indicated that up to 40 percent of parents had their children start learning English before elementary school.

Morgan Sun (孫慶國), general director of the King Car Education Foundation, said that parents should not rush their children into learning English before they start elementary school.

"At such a young age, children haven't even had enough time to learn their mother tongue," Sun said. "Earlier is not necessarily better."

Chang Hsin-yi (張新易), the project planner for the survey, said that regardless of the education level of the parents surveyed, almost 90 percent of them admitted that they were not confident in their own English ability.

More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they send their children to cram school, while 87 percent said that they did not help their children learn English because of their own insufficient English ability, Chang said.

The King Car Foundation is a non-profit organization that organizes annual English camps and exchange programs for children. It has previously brought Christian missionaries to Taiwan to serve as English teachers in more remote areas.

The survey of 2,059 parents was conducted by the foundation in November.

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