Wed, Nov 07, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Premier, officials take an English test in legislature

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

National Science Council Minister Cyrus Chu, left, Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling, second left, Premier Sean Chen, second right, and Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai answer lawmakers’ questions in the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Following the release of a report showing that English proficiency among Taiwanese was far from ideal, Premier Sean Chen and three government officials were yesterday tested on their English listening skills in the legislature in Taipei.

During the question-and-answer session, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) played several sections of an audio file which were excerpts from the speech delivered by US President Barack Obama when he accepted the Democratic nomination to run for a second term and asked the officials to translate the sentences.

Chiu praised Chen and Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) after they both translated the sentence correctly, saying he put them to the English listening test to demonstrate that Taiwanese officials are proficient in English.

Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) declined to take the test after a section of the audio file was played and she said that she had concerns about “translating a speech by a politician of a foreign country” on the legislative floor.

After another section of the audio file was played, National Science Council Minister Cyrus Chu (朱敬一) also refused the test, saying he did not think it was meaningful.

“I can make a two-hour speech without a prepared text. [You want me] to translate one sentence. What’s the point of doing this?” Chu asked.

Education First, an international education company, on Monday released the survey in which Taiwan was ranked ninth among 12 Asian countries rated in an English skill index, outperforming only Vietnam, China and Thailand.

Chen and Chiang both cast doubts on the survey results. Chen said he had never heard of Education First and he did not know what methodology it adopted in the survey.

Chiang said he had some doubts that Japanese performed better than Taiwanese in the test.

They said that the government has tried to create an English-friendly environment and has pushed for more bilingual education in schools.

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