A record number of people took the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Hoklo-language exam this year, the ministry said in a news release yesterday.
A total of 18,622 people, aged six to 86, tested their proficiency in the language, which is also known as Taiwanese, the ministry said, adding that among the test takers were also Americans, Japanese, Malaysians and South Koreans.
This represented a 34 percent increase from last year, it added.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Education
Feng Chung-hsing (封中興), an administrator at Tainan’s Haidian Junior High School, said that offering Hoklo courses to seventh and eighth graders has led to significant improvements in graduates’ writing skills.
The mother of the youngest examinee, surnamed Tsai, said that Mandarin and Hoklo are used in her family, but her daughter mostly uses Mandarin.
Fearing that her daughter might lose touch with her native language, the mother said that she and her husband started telling their child stories in Hoklo and enrolled her in lessons as soon as she was old enough for kindergarten.
Public schools provided guidance and materials to help her daughter prepare for the test, the mother said.
Lee Ya-lin (李雅玲), 82, is a retired translator who had worked for the Taipei District Court.
She said she enrolled in a course as soon as she found out that a local community college offered Hoklo classes.
She has been speaking the language all her life, but hopes to achieve a higher level of proficiency, she said.
“People are never too old to learn, and I love to learn new things,” she said, adding that although she believes her spoken fluency is high, she had to take the entry-level exam as a first-time test taker.
Kim Han-bin, a South Korean national who studies at National Taiwan University, said he used immersion-based methods to learn the language on his own.
Kim said he was confident in his proficiency and chose to take the level 2 exam on his first try.
In other developments, the ministry and the British Council on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in Mandarin and English-language education.
Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said the ministry is proud to reach a milestone on the way to making English the nation’s second official language by 2030, as planned by the government, adding that the UK is an important partner in the effort.
Pan thanked the British Council for its assistance with proficiency evaluations and for bilingual programs in institutions of higher education.
Department of International and Cross-strait Education Director Lee Yen-yi (李彥儀) said the agreement would benefit both sides.
Taiwan is to help the UK implement Mandarin-learning programs, Lee said.
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