Experts and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday raised doubts about the government’s readiness to execute the Development of National Languages Act (國家語言發展法) and said that there was ambiguity in the act’s definition of so-called “national languages.”
The act, which was passed by the legislature on Dec. 25, 2018, and went into effect on Jan. 9, 2019, is to promote the passing down, revival and development of national languages in recognition of Taiwan’s multicultural nature.
In the act, “national languages” are defined as the natural languages used by ethnic groups in Taiwan, as well as Taiwan Sign Language.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
The act stipulates that starting with the 2022-2023 school year, classes in national languages are to be mandatory “at all stages of compulsory education.”
Based on the Ministry of Education’s 12-Year Basic Education Curriculum Guidelines, which were implemented in August 2019, elementary-school students are already required to take a weekly class in either a bentu (本土, “local” or “native”) language — specifically Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Hakka or an Aboriginal language — or a “new immigrant language” (Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay, Filipino, Cambodian or Burmese).
Elementary schools are already facing a shortage of teachers of bentu and “new immigrant” languages, National Policy Foundation member Kao Yuang-kuang (高永光) told a news conference in Taipei held by the foundation — a think tank affiliated with the KMT.
He asked whether enough teachers would be available to teach “national languages” at junior and senior-high schools when they become mandatory next year.
KMT Legislator Cheng Cheng-chien (鄭正鈐) said that the ministry has yet to come up with a solution to the shortage of teachers.
The lack of teachers is the “biggest problem” with making “national language” classes mandatory for junior and senior-high school students, Cheng said.
The definition of “national languages” in the act is wide-ranging, he said, adding that it is important to clarify which languages are to be options.
Chinese Language Education Promotion Association secretary-general Tuan Hsin-yi (段心儀) also asked what constituted a “national language,” calling the act’s definition “vague.”
The “unclear” definition in the act is likely to lead to unequal treatment of languages, foundation member Ho Chan-hsu (何展旭) said.
In theory, languages such as Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Cantonese could also be considered “national languages,” Ho said.
KMT Legislator Lee De-wei (李德維) urged the ministry to focus on what would be meaningful for students when it plans and designs classes.
Education should not be treated like a “showpiece,” Lee said.
Additional reporting by CNA
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: A US Air Force KC-135 tanker came less than 1,000 feet of an EVA plane and was warned off by a Taipei air traffic controller, a report said A US aerial refueling aircraft came very close to an EVA Airways jet in the airspace over southern Taiwan, a military aviation news Web site said. A report published by Alert 5 on Tuesday said that automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) data captured by planfinder.net on Wednesday last week showed a US Air Force KC-135 tanker “coming less than 1,000 feet [305m] vertically with EVA Air flight BR225 as both aircraft crossed path south of Taiwan” that morning. The report included an audio recording of a female controller from the Taipei air traffic control center telling the unidentified aircraft that it was
A US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said yesterday, as tensions between China and Taiwan raise concerns in Washington. US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the strike group entered the South China Sea on Saturday, the same day Taiwan reported a large incursion of Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its air defense identification zone near the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島). The US military said the carrier strike group was in the South China Sea, a large part of which
STRATEGIC MISTAKE: Beijing’s deployment of aircraft near Taiwan proves the ‘China threat theory’ that sees it attempting to destabilize the region, an analyst said China on Saturday and yesterday sent a record number of military aircraft into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), in what analysts said was an attempt to flex its military might for US President Joe Biden. Thirteen Chinese warplanes flew into Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ on Saturday and 15 entered yesterday, the highest number observed in a single day this year, the Ministry of National Defense said. On Saturday, eight Xian H-6K bombers, four Shenyang J-16 fighters and a Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, entered the ADIZ, while yesterday there were two Y-8s, two Su-30s, four J-16s, six J-10 fighters and a Y-8 reconnaissance
DISPOSING MYTHS: A new constitution would better reflect reality, as the current one was drafted ‘in and for China,’ without the consent of Taiwanese, advocates said Independence advocates yesterday launched the Taiwan New Constitution Alliance to promote drafting a new, localized constitution. “This is a historic moment for Taiwan. Drafting a new constitution is the most important task Taiwanese face,” veteran independence advocate Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) said at the inaugural event in Taipei. “Although the Democratic Progressive Party is in power, its authority is based on the Republic of China [ROC] Constitution, which has no connection to Taiwan,” said the 95-year-old Koo, a former presidential adviser. “The historic task of drafting a new constitution depends on efforts by all Taiwanese,” Koo said. “A constitution for a sovereign, independent Taiwan