Fri, Oct 26, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Councilor says English proficiency must improve

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Government civil servants should improve their English proficiency to provide better bilingual service to the growing number of foreign visitors and residents, a city councilor said yesterday.

English ability is especially important for civil servants in the city's police department, fire department and municipal hospital staff, as they often need to provide emergency services to foreigners, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Chueh Mei-sha (闕枚莎) said during a question-and-answer session at the city council.

Statistics provided by the Taipei City Police Department show that there are 91,876 foreigners living in the city.

However, only about 15 percent of civil servants have passed the General English Proficiency Test (GEPT), Chueh said.

"Although the city government intends to promote the city as an international metropolis, the English proficiency of its civil servants is apparently not good enough to meet the needs of its foreign residents," she said.

Chueh then invited staff from the police department, fire department, environmental protection department and Taipei City Hospital to have a conversation with her to test their English ability.

While most of the civil servants were able to give directions and telephone numbers of departments in English, Chueh urged the city government to devote more money to English-language training.

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