Thu, Jul 19, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Group pushes multilingual study

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A man holds a sign that reads, ``KMT; clinging to two dead Chiangs; egg-headed teachers; clinging onto a dead language; the ghosts refuse to disperse'' at a press conference yesterday held by various civic groups to call for more language diversity in education.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

A coalition of civic groups yesterday launched a multiculturalism campaign, urging schools to begin offering courses taught in other mother tongues besides Mandarin once a week.

Cheng Cheng-iok (鄭正煜), president of the Southern Taiwan Society, told the press conference that while 99 percent of the courses taught at kindergartens, elementary and high schools were in Mandarin, they would like them to be taught in other native tongues such as Hoklo (or Taiwanese), Hakka or Aboriginal languages.

As the Ministry of Education(MOE) has asked schools to designate one day of the week as the "Taiwan mother tongue day," Cheng said he hoped schools would take advantage of the occasion to teach native languages in accordance with the ethnicity of the school district.

Cheng also called on schools to hire Chinese teachers who have training not only in Chinese literature but also in Taiwanese and world literature.

Michelle Wang (王美琇), vice president of the Northern Taiwan Society, said that political and educational reforms were key to the democratic campaign to turn Taiwan into a more "normal" country.

"Political reform is like the roof of a house and educational reform is the columns," she said. "Completing political reform is like putting a new roof on a house, but the columns are still rotten if educational reform is not yet complete."

Without a normal educational system, Wang said children would not develop into citizens with high awareness.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Yu Shyi-kun, who also attended the press conference, said his party fully supports the teaching of native languages and will continue the campaign to strengthen Taiwan-centric consciousness.

Yu said he proposed bilingual teaching in junior high schools when he served as Taiwan provincial councilor 23 years ago. During his term as Ilan County commissioner, he promoted Taiwanese culture and languages. The DPP administration has also made efforts to advocate Taiwanese education. Among the achievements are the creation of Hakka and Aboriginal TV channels.

Tan Hong-hui (陳豐惠), director of the Taiwanese Romanization Association, urged the government to ditch the bopomofo phonetic system in favor of Romanization system suggested by the MOE in the teaching and writing of Mandarin and mother tongues.

With a little bit of training, it is easy to get used to Romanization, she said. She did not specify which Romanization system she was referring to. Tan said that Bibles translated into Romanized Aboriginal languages by missionaries were popular from 1885 and 1969 but unfortunately were banned by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration in 1975.

"Now it takes extra effort to resurrect it and keep it alive," she said.

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