The Taipei City Government yesterday launched an online learning system for Aboriginal languages in elementary schools, the latest in its effort to encourage the learning of mother tongues, as the city observed International Mother Language Day.
The “Aboriginal Language Long-Distance Learning” system, launched by the city’s Department of Education last month, aims to fill the gap caused by a shortage of teachers of Aboriginal languages in elementary schools.
Chan Yi-tsong (諶亦聰), a section chief at the department, said the system offers online courses in three languages: Atayal, Saisiyat and Puyuma.
More than 10 students in six elementary schools have started to use the system, with the students learning their mother tongues face-to-face with their teachers online.
Of the 43 languages used by Taiwan’s Aborigines, there are only about 60 to 80 teachers available to teach these courses to about 1,700 Aboriginal students in elementary schools in Taipei.
The department would continue to expand the scope of the system and offer courses on 12 Aboriginal languages that are spoken by a smaller number of people, she said.
The Ministry of Education has made mother-tongue education a compulsory subject in elementary school since 2001. Taught once a week, these courses are offered in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), Hakka and Aboriginal languages.
Chan said the city established the system last year and tested the online courses at three schools before launching it last month. She invited elementary schools to apply with the department for the online program.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday joined students of Hakka and Aboriginal ancestry in promoting the importance of mother languages on the UN-declared International Mother Language Day at Taipei Hakka Culture Park. The mayor pledged to dedicate more educational resources to preserving local languages.
“There are more than 6,000 languages around the world, but about 10 languages become extinct every year ... The online learning system for Aboriginal languages is a pioneer system in Taiwan and reflects the city’s dedication in preserving languages and promoting mother tongues,” he said.