Tue, May 27, 2008 - Page 2 News List

FEATURE: Hakka language proficiency grows

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

In Touwu Township (頭屋) where Chen Yen-ching’s parents live, nearly 94 percent of the residents are Hakkas.

The council has exerted a lot of effort to save the Hakka language from extinction.

Besides the Hakka proficiency exam, there are Hakka life schools.

“The idea behind Hakka life schools is to increase the use of Hakka at schools,” said Chung Wan-mei (鍾萬梅), director of the council’s Culture and Education Department.

Elementary and junior high level schools are encouraged the join the program voluntarily.

In these Hakka life schools, signs are posted on objects around the school telling students how everything is said in Hakka.

“In addition, they may have a Hakka day or Hakka week when only Hakka can be spoken,” Chung said, adding that Hakka may become the language of instruction in certain selected classes on a regular basis in the future.

Since last year, there are all-Hakka kindergartens in townships with a Hakka majority in Pingtung.

“Surprisingly, all-Hakka kindergartens are quite popular,” Chung said. “Last year, there were only three such kindergartens. This year, two more applied to join the project.”

Huang is planning to set up Hakka cultural regions in townships with more than a 40 percent Hakka population.

In such cultural regions, Hakka will be promoted as the main language in the public domain.

“Even though we still have a long way to go, Hakka’s decline has at least been halted and its rise seems to have begun,” Lee Yung-te (李永得), the former council chairman who initiated the Hakka proficiency exam, said during a press conference to announce the exam results before he stepped down.

“Hopefully, in 10 or 20 years, Hakka will become a language that everyone in Taiwan can at least understand,” he said.

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