Language Policy In Taiwan


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Language Policy In Taiwan

  1. 1. Language Policy in Taiwan Language and Culture WTUC
  2. 2. Native Languages in Taiwan <ul><li>For many years, native languages like Southern Fujianese (often called Taiwanese 臺灣話 , spoken natively by perhaps 70 percent of the people of Taiwan) and Hakka, as well as the aborigine languages, were not given much official attention in Taiwan. </li></ul><ul><li>In the process of making sure everyone mastered the common national language, the importance of other dialects and languages was played down. For example, Taiwanese dialect pop songs tended in the past to be stereotyped and relegated to a subordinate position in the market . </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>In recent years, however, Southern Fujianese has entered the mainstream of popular culture . Singers are often expected to produce at least a few songs or an album in Southern Fujianese. Use of Southern Fujianese in advertising and business--from TV commercials to restaurant names--is considered fashionable. Bookstores now offer entire sections of literature written in a style reflecting spoken Southern Fujianese. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Hakka, on the other hand, is being spoken less by younger generations who favor Mandarin and Southern Fujianese. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Taiwanese Aborigines Many aboriginal people are bilingual and have been assimilated into mainstream society . Although more people today are willing to identify with their aboriginal ancestry than in the past, the new generation who grew up in cities can no longer converse in their ancestral tongues.
  6. 6. Policy on Aboriginal Languages <ul><li>To rectify this, in June 2001, the Taipei City Government's Council of Aboriginal Affairs (CAA) 原住民事務委員會 cosponsored two aboriginal radio programs--one on the Taipei Broadcasting Station and the other on the Broadcasting Corp. of China--to introduce aboriginal languages, cultures, activities, as well as the latest policies and welfare packages to the aborigines in Taipei. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Around the same time, the first program to combine the concept of local language education and childcare was also launched by the Taipei City Government, which has 632 Taiwanese-, 86 Hakka-, one Ami- 阿美 , and two Ataya- 泰雅 speaking nannies. The aim was to expose children to native languages during their preschool years, as this is believed to be the critical stage for language learning . </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Although the majority of the aborigines in Taipei's primary schools are either Ami, Ataya, Paiwan 排灣 , or Bunun 布農 (500, 164, 92, and 67 students respectively), most are scattered throughout different schools. Therefore, in July 2001, the CAA adapted New Zealand's Kohanga Reo programme for the Maoris and implemented the Scheme of Aboriginal Language Networks 原住民語言巢方案 in its 12 districts to provide total immersion education. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Language Education <ul><li>To encourage research on Southern Fujianese, Hakka, other Chinese dialects, and non-Han languages, the MOE offers various levels of financial support in the form of awards for scholarly publications in these areas. </li></ul><ul><li>Taiwan society is a rich mixture of diverse cultures, and more people on the island are becoming aware of the importance of preserving various languages and dialects. </li></ul>
  10. 10. “ Nativist&quot; Education This awareness has become the propelling force behind government efforts to promote &quot;nativist&quot; education 鄉土教育 in elementary and secondary schools. The goal of nativist education is to teach students about the natural history, geography, environment, dialects, arts, and culture of Taiwan, and thus cultivate an affection for Taiwan and respect for the island's different cultures and ethnic groups . Under initial plans adopted by the MOE in 1997 for promoting nativist education, bilingual education is a primary focus.
  11. 11. Bilingual Education <ul><li>Bilingual education has been introduced in the Taiwan area as a way of reversing the previous neglect of Chinese dialects other than Mandarin. The central government has been lagging behind several steps in its proponents for bilingual education ; thus, the magistrates of three counties, making good on campaign promises, chose to &quot;jump the gun&quot; and institute programs in the areas under their jurisdiction prior to any decision by the central authorities. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Obstacles <ul><li>However, the promotion of bilingual education by local governments has faced many obstacles. One of the obstacles comes from parents who do not support bilingual instruction programs. Some parents worry that instruction time spent gaining competence in a chosen Chinese dialect or aboriginal language might negatively affect a student's ability to compose in standard written Chinese, and possibly result in lower scores on college entrance exams . </li></ul>
  13. 13. Obstacles <ul><li>Other parents feel that the usefulness of their native language is limited. &quot;Wouldn't it be better to teach English or Japanese instead?&quot; they reason. For aborigines who are less well off, economic and social advancement is a much more urgent concern; bilingual education may be a luxury they feel they cannot afford. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Obstacles <ul><li>Another obstacle is the absence of generally agreed-upon standard written forms for each of the Chinese dialects and aboriginal languages. Different phonetic systems have been proposed and tried. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Solution? <ul><li>Romanization systems are perhaps the most flexible and precise and are well suited to serve as the primary writing system for aboriginal languages. In addition, they can serve as an auxiliary system for teaching Chinese dialects. </li></ul>
  16. 16. English in Taiwan <ul><li>In order to promote the internationalization of the ROC, on the other hand, the MOE has extended the teaching of foreign languages to the primary-school level. </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>“ Alongside the political project of independence exist the economic realities of a world that communicates in English. As Taiwan is a major global exporter of manufactured goods, even the most fervently pro-KMT businesspeople use English to sell their wares in a global market. Whether pro-independence or pro-unification, whether for political or economic reasons, the utility of English is recognised by many in Taiwan .” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>“ In 2002, Chen Shui-Bian even tentatively suggested that English should be Taiwan’s second official language . There is a historical precedent in this idea that conforms to his political stance of ethnic and linguistic equality in the name of national unification.” </li></ul> , p3
  19. 19. <ul><li>“ Yet Chen Shui-Bian’s stated rationale for this proposal was that English had given Hong Kong and Singapore an economic ‘competitive edge’ in Asia. In this analysis he had neglected the fact that these countries retained English as a legacy from what were often rather brutal episodes of colonialism by the UK, an odd position for a politician leading his people out of the ravages of a colonial past.” </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>“ The DPP Minister of Education, while conceding that it was a position ‘under consideration,’ and couching his thoughts in diplomatic language, also disagreed with Chen. He did, however, point out that: ‘English is the language that connects Taiwan to the outside world, and it is important to learn it well.’ </li></ul> , p3
  21. 21. <ul><li>“ English in Taiwan has become part of the formidable University entrance exams, acting as a gatekeeper to higher education and employment prospects. To pass the exams and vault the gate, Taiwanese students spend long hours in private after-school buxibans or ‘cram schools.’” </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>“ From a sociological perspective, English thus contributes to social exclusion in Taiwanese society on both ethnic and socio-economic grounds. Those that have a University education and thus decent employment – and historically, they belong to the elite mainlander groups in disproportionate numbers compared to ethnic Taiwanese, Hakka or Aboriginal groups – are the ones who can afford to send their children to private classes.” </li></ul> , p4
  23. 23. <ul><li>“However, examination of the micro-level practices of English language – in particular ethnocentric hiring practices – provides a more effective commentary on the links between ethnicity and ‘standard’ language that pervade social discourse.” </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>The MOE has focused on English as its first target in foreign language education and has scheduled the teaching of English to fifth and sixth grade students from September 2001 . In view of the need for globalization, the MOE also promotes the Second Foreign Language Education Five-year Program for Senior High Schools 高級中學第二外語教育五年計畫 (July 1999-December 2004), in addition to the compulsory English courses scheduled for primary school students. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Inside the English Language Schools in Taiwan <ul><li>“In the morning, entering the doors of a private English school in Taiwan one may hear the loud and frequently repeated words &quot;No Chinese&quot;. This is usually shouted hysterically by a worn owner or manager of the school and for the benefit of passer-by's, parents and other teachers and directed to a bunch of partially happy children starting the evenings, mornings or weekends torture.” </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Generally most English Language Schools rely on a foreign teacher to bring in the students. In fact without the presence of an English Speaking foreigner it is doubtful whether the school would be able to recruit anybody at all. The foreign English teacher then becomes the pivot around which the school operates. </li></ul>
  27. 27. School Structure.. <ul><li>Schools generally are small in scale. Many function in converted houses with five to six classrooms some on an even smaller scale. Classes vary in age groups, often 3-5 year olds being mixed together with 6-8yrs combined and 9-12yr olds combined. A more general classification is based on English language skills, with three levels of classroom being operated based on beginner, intermediate and advanced level. </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Many schools operate without a formatted curriculum and rely on the foreign teacher to meander through the year using materials that are scraped together from anywhere and mostly at the last minute. The Internet, other teachers minds, friends and personal books are plagiarised and copied in hysterical attempts to make lesson plans, minutes before class is due to start. </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>Parents eyeing up the school with intentions to sending their children to it are often invited to an open day. These open days are highly staged events to which the students have practiced for endlessly and without letup. What the parent sees is a group of kids performing shows, singing songs and generally advertising that they have a good grasp of the English language. </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>The government of Taiwan desperately needs to control and to monitor educational standards at these schools to ensure that a proper level and standard of education is being given. They must note that by simply having a native English speaker on the books does not mean that the school is up to standard. </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>It might be a consideration of the government to have a nationalised curriculum that private schools must adhere to or that potential schools must submit a curriculum to a government body for approval before they can open their doors. </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>Many schools in Taiwan offer an excellent environment where two (one foreign, one local) correctly educated teachers control classes using adequate and suitable resources and materials. But many do not and it is these ones that should be clamped down upon by government bodies, to eradicate the schools that exists purely to fill the pockets of shareholders as rapidly as possible, and thus to build up a network of schools across the Island that provide quality and positive grounding in the English language. </li></ul>
  33. 33. End