The Association to Remedy Chinese Language Education on Wednesday urged the Ministry of Education to focus more on Chinese language teaching in schools.
The Association said the Chinese language skills of Taiwanese children appeared to have deteriorated in recent years because education reform neglected the importance of Chinese language in its national curriculum guidelines.
Under current guidelines, the minimum required units for Chinese language classes have been cut and the content oversimplified, the association said.
It urged the ministry to increase the requirement to a minimum of 10 units a week at elementary school, eight units at junior high, and six units at senior high.
The association also called for a single version of Chinese language textbooks, edited by academics and strictly supervised by the ministry, for high-school age students.
Liu Yuan-tsun (劉源俊), deputy convener of the association and former principal of Taipei Municipal University of Education said one of the problems with education in recent years has been the increased use of multiple-choice questions in exams at the expense of narrative skills.
The ministry has also put more emphasis on English education, at the expense of Chinese, Liu said.
“Walk with the classics and be friends with saints and the wise,” said Lee Su-chen (李素貞), executive secretary of the alliance and a teacher for more than 30 years.
Asked why the association called for at least 65 percent of literary Chinese content in textbooks, Lee said classic writings such as the Four Books of Confucian teachings and famous poetry, have stood the test of time and are essential elements of Chinese culture.
However, given their complexity, students would benefit tremendously from a school environment in which their meaning could be better explained, Lee said.
Vice convener of the association and writer Chang Hsiao-feng (張曉風) said many Chinese-speaking countries in Asia were increasing their focus on Chinese language education and that Taiwan should follow suit.
However, young teachers’ poor Chinese skills create an additional challenge, Chang said.