Tue, Oct 20, 2015 - Page 5 News List

English proposed as second language

INTERNATIONAL:Tainan is heading the discussion for everyone in Taiwan to have English-language skills within 10 years to ensure the economy survives globalization

Staff writer, with CNA

Academics and officials on Sunday discussed a proposal to make English the nation’s second official language at a conference in Tainan, the city that is leading the push.

“English is part of national power,” Shih Chien University professor Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) said at the conference, which was organized by the Tainan-based Flomo Education Foundation.

“English proficiency in Taiwan is not just an educational problem, but an important asset for the country’s development,” Chen said.

“With Southeast Asian countries designating 2015 as the year of English, where are the international talent or people with English proficiency that we need for our ‘Go South’ policy?” he asked.

The ability to communicate in English is a “fundamental skill” that Taiwan should strive for in pursuit of internationalization and greater access to the global market, he said.

It means having “everyone in the country being able to speak English, more or less,” he said.

Flomo Education Foundation chairman Shen Kun-chao (沈坤照) said that Taiwan is an export-oriented economy and Taiwanese children face increasing competition because of globalization.

While more than 70 countries across the world have designated English as their second official language, Taiwan’s English education policy is being challenged by a lack of funds and the dispute over its squeezing funds out of the budget for mother-tongue programs, Shen said.

“How to assist our children in cultivating the ability to gear themselves for international conventions is an important issue that needs to be discussed,” he said.

The conference was also attended by Tainan City Government Bureau of Education Director-General Chen Hsiu-ping (陳修平), Democratic Progressive Party Tainan City Councilor Chiu Li-li (邱莉莉) and several school principals.

The city government started efforts to promote English as a second official language in May in line with Tainan Mayor William Lai’s (賴清德) goal to make English the second official language in the city within 10 years and turn Tainan into a “true international city.”

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