Mercury to hit 30 degrees
Taiwan could see abundant sunshine today, with daytime high temperatures likely to reach 30?C, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday. Lows are expected to hover between 21 and 24 degrees nationwide, forecasters said. They cautioned that there will be a big difference in the mercury between day and night, especially in central and southern parts. However, the pleasant weather could be replaced by rain starting tomorrow due to strengthening seasonal winds, the bureau said. Highs in northern Taiwan could drop by some seven degrees, adding that the unstable weather pattern is expected to prevail throughout next week, it said.
English proficiency slips
Taiwan’s English proficiency has slid since last year, according to a worldwide survey by Switzerland-based Education First, dropping three places to 33rd among countries where English is not the native language. The survey, released on Friday, ranked 60 countries based on 750,000 adults who participated in a one-hour test of English listening and reading proficiency last year. Taiwan earned a score of 50.95, down from 52.42 it got in the last survey conducted between 2009 and 2011, putting the country firmly in the “low proficiency” category. In Asia, Taiwan outperformed only China (34th), Thailand (55th) and Kazakhstan (57th). Iran, also ranked in the Asia category, came in below Taiwan at 42nd place. Malaysia was first in the region with a ranking of 11th, surpassing Singapore for the first time. Several countries in Asia saw massive transformations in their English proficiency between 2007 and 2012, the organization said, singling out Indonesia (25th) and Vietnam (28th). Despite enormous private investment in language education in South Korea and Japan, both countries saw their rankings decline slightly to 24th and 26th places respectively.
Large wave claims eight
Medics last night were unable to save the lives of eight people who were swept into the sea off the northern coast. A large wave crashed onshore at the coastal Longdong Geological Park in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao (貢寮) at around 3pm yesterday, sweeping the group into the sea. The eight were on a field trip from a community college in Shulin district. Authorities are warning the public of dangerous waves along the coast, due to sea surges from weather systems associated with the powerful typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into the Philippines, wreaking havoc over the past days.
Iranian is King of Mountains
Iranian cyclist Rahim Emami clinched the gold medal in the Taiwan King of the Mountains Challenge yesterday, finishing in a record-breaking 206 minutes and 59 seconds. Emami beat about 440 cyclists from 28 countries who tested their mettle in a 100km race on a route that rises from sea level to a 3,275m peak in Wuling (武嶺), Greater Taichung. The cyclists set off from Seven Star Lake in Hualien and passed through the scenic Taroko Gorge on the way to Wuling — the nation’s highest point accessible by public road. Emami’s victory did not come easy, as he was not able to free himself from his compatriot, Amir Zargari, until the finish line. Taiwanese Wang In-chi finished third in 207 minutes and 53 seconds.