There is a feature article in today’s China Times on English learning in Taiwan. While the article touches on efforts to overcome the rural/urban divide and on English instruction in the universities, it is primarily a hostile look at all-English kindergartens. I have summarized some of the highlights for your collective amusement.
“Many problems begin in All-English kindergartens…,” where foreign teachers demand “No Chinese.” Xiao Zhaojun, Associate Professor of Primary Education at Hualien Teacher’s College, said that when she went to a local kindergarten to pickup a friend’s child, she saw a “No Chinese” sign and an American flag on the wall. She said she felt like she had entered an American concession.
The article notes the resentment that non-english speaking teachers feel in public schools that emphasize English instruction. One Hualien teacher says that at her school students who speak English well are placed on the A track where they receive more attention. She would like to help the students in the B and C tracks, but she doesn’t speak English. “The school wants to become known for its English programs–which country are we citizens of?”
Another parent claims that her daughter speaks Chinese with English syntax and that she is becoming “culturally different”–that she is extroverted, likes to be hugged [!], and demands that people say “Sorry” to her.
Children who study at All-English kindergartens are said to have emotional problems, maladjustment, and even childhood mental illnesses [!].
Children think that English is a superior language and Chinese an inferior one because “as soon as the foreign teacher shows up, the Chinese teacher is like a servant.”
The article concludes that this reflects a “colonial mentality” in Taiwan and the “superficlal utilitarianism” of the Taiwanese people and government."