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Proposal discussed to make English 2nd official language in Taiwan

2015/10/18 21:58:11

English course at an elementary school in New Taipei. CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA) A proposal to make English the second official language in Taiwan was discussed at a conference Sunday in Tainan, the city that is leading the push.

"English is part of national power," Chen Chao-ming (陳超明), a chair professor at Shih Chien University, said at the conference, which was organized by the Tainan-based Flomo Education Foundation.

English proficiency in Taiwan is not just an educational problem, but an important asset for the country's future development, Chen said.

"With Southeast Asian countries designating 2015 as the year of English, where are the international talents or people with English proficiency that we need for our Go South policy?" he asked.

The scholar stressed that the ability to communicate in English is a "fundamental skill" that Taiwan should be using to strive for internationalization and greater access to the global market.

The idea of designating English as the second official language of Taiwan was derived from the pursuit of internationalization, Chen said. It means having "everyone in the country being able to speak English, more or less," he said.

Flomo Education Foundation Chairman Shen Kun-chao (沈坤照) said that Taiwan is an export-oriented country, in which the children will all face competition as the economy is globalized.

With more than 70 countries around the world having designated English as their second official language, Taiwan's English education policy, however, is being challenged by a lack of funds and the dispute over its squeezing funds out of the budget for mother-tongue programs, Shen said.

"How to assist our children in cultivating the ability to gear themselves for international conventions is an important issue which the relevant sectors of the country need to discuss," he said.

Apart from Chen, the conference also drew Tien Ling-hu (田玲瑚), deputy director of the Tainan city government's second official language promotion office; Chen Hsiu-ping (陳修平), head of the city's Bureau of Education; Tainan City Councilor Chiu Li-li (邱莉莉); and several school heads.

The Tainan city government kicked off efforts to promote the second official language in May based on the policy of Mayor Lai Ching-te (賴清德) to make English the second official language of the city within 10 years in an effort to build Tainan into a "true international city."

(By Yang Sz-ruei and Elizabeth Hsu)