Wed, Jun 07, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Students seek end to English test

UNIVERSITY REQUIREMENTS:Political science student Liao Hao-hsiang said that overemphasizing English at the expense of other languages seems inappropriate

By Wu Po-hsuan, Hung Mei-hsiu and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

A student affairs meeting at National Chungchi University (NCCU) on Monday passed a motion to consider abolishing English-language proficiency tests as a requirement for graduation.

The university requires students to submit an English proficiency certificate — which they gain through a test — before they can graduate and those who fail the test twice can take an English class to satisfy the language requirement.

After students complained about the issue the meeting was scheduled, at which a recommendation was made for the university to abrogate the requirement.

NCCU Student Association president Chu Yen-chen (朱晏辰) said student representatives from the foreign-language center and the English Department objected to the requirement.

“The opinion of many students is that the university’s standard was not producing good results, so it contracted English instruction out to cram schools and test centers,” Chu said.

The vote to abolish the certificates as a graduation requirement passed by 45 votes, meaning the proposal will be brought to the university’s next faculty meeting for a final decision.

The Ministry of Education said it does not demand that universities set up English-language proficiency requirements and it would defer to the institute regarding the issue.

Director of Higher Education Nicole Lee (李彥儀) said the Teaching Excellence Project previously used “English-language graduation thresholds” as a metric for student subsidies, which led many universities to implement proficiency requirements.

However, the practice was discontinued after controversy surrounding the requirements in recent years, Lee said.

NCCU political science student Liao Hao-hsiang (廖浩翔) said he opposes the requirement, because students have to pay for English-language exams, which seems like “a surcharge to buy a diploma.”

Students should not be required to provide a certificate for English proficiency because English language credits are already a requirement for graduation, he said.

Overemphasizing English at the expense of other important foreign languages seems inappropriate, and although English is a useful language for professional reasons, students should be able to choose whether to study it, he said.

The National Tsing Hua University student association recently called for an end to the proficiency test at its institute after 100 students of this year’s graduating class of 1,400 failed to meet the requirement.

It said abolishing the requirement would improve the quality of English education at National Tsing Hua University, association president Yu Kuang-cheng (徐光成) said.

“Passing the threshold does not reflect genuine language proficiency... Universities should not create thresholds to comply with evaluation metrics, they should be providing more pathways to learning, like classes taught in English and language courses that motivate the desire to learn,” Yu said.

“The point is to encourage students to learn more foreign languages and the language does not need to be English,” director of student affairs Kuo Hung-chi (郭鴻基) said.

National Taiwan Normal University director of student affairs Chen Chao-chen (陳昭珍) said that universities should let each department handle its own evaluations.

“It is unlikely that an athletics departments would need students to reach high standards of English proficiency, but they might need to enhance instruction of English jargon for sports competitions or classes that teach etiquette in foreign countries,” she said.

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