Legislators and educators called on the government to make English the nation’s second language, with recommendations to allocate money from the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Plan to achieve the objective.
Taiwan has to improve its English-language proficiency because it is the common language of international trade and commerce, and on a regional level it could facilitate the nation’s drive to forge partnerships with Southeast Asian countries under the government’s “new southbound policy,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) said at public hearing on Friday, promoting the use of English throughout the nation’s private and public sectors.
The proposal for English to be included in the Ministry of Culture’s “national language development bill,” is to be taken into consideration along with a focus on promoting Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), Hakka and Aboriginal languages, the ministry said.
Participants at the hearing also made suggestions for implementing bilingual education programs for children to require civil servants to pass spoken English proficiency tests and to change the way English is taught, by emphasizing listening and speaking rather than the pedagogical fixation on grammar and sentence construction.
“We have more people speaking and writing messages in Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Hakka and English [via Line and other social messaging apps] with all the different languages all mixed together,” Liu said.
“As long as people can understand each other, there is no need to get worked up about grammar and correct sentence structure,” he added.
DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) said he would request for the Ministry of Education and the National Development Council to implement programs under the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Plan to teach foreign languages in the public education system and create friendly environments to promote the use of English at city and county levels.
Liu and Chiu suggested a 20-year national plan for Taiwanese to speak English as a second language, using the examples set by Singapore and Malaysia.
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