How could Taiwanese speak better language here?

Hi there,

I came back to Taiwan after being away for the past 10+ years. After being here for just over a month, I am shocked to see how bad people’s English still is here. :frowning:

Let me give you a couple of examples. I’ve been watching U.S. Open day and night this past week, but the commentators couldn’t even pronounce the players’ names correct - I call their language as “Chinglish”. :unamused:

OK, so the names are a bit difficult to get them right. How about the news broadcasters, TV show hosts or game show hostess? When they try to say a few English words in their Chinese conversation, it leaves me ponder “what da heck he/she just said?” The English newspapers are not much better either - I find typos or incorrect grammar on daily basis. Why do Taiwanese rather speak incorrect English? Or did they not know their English is rather poor?

I see a lot of English learning centers in every corner and all of them hire native-English speakers to teach Taiwanese English, but I often hear terrible English spoken (not just the pronunciation) mixed with Chinese sentences among Taiwanese. Why? Why couldn’t Taiwanese learn proper English from the native-English-speaking teachers? What did I miss?

I know it’s silly, but I’d love to find out how come the effort made by Taiwanese doesn’t produce the result they expected.


Hilarious…thanks a lot!

Yeh! yeh! yeh! You’re full of it. If you’re a Taiwanese, you probably suffer severe “reverse culture shock”! And if you’re not, why not ccomplaining why Caucasion Americans don’t speak Spanish well when the Spanish-speaking population in the US has been increasing? Why not complaining why most Canadians don’t speak French well wheh the French language is actually one of their official languages?

Ah ha! This is the answer! Maybe those native-English-speaking teahcers don’t know how to teach properly??? And you’re one of them???

I suggest you step through the doors of one of these places and sign up for some classes before you start going off on the English-language abilities of Taiwanese people here. Most of them haven’t had the benefit of “10 years away,” yet a great many of them are far more competent than you appear to be. :unamused:

Oh, come on, Sandy, this has got to be a joke. Nobody would seriously use such poor English to slag people with poor English! Right?

(Where is that looks around icon again?)

Frankly, I am not here to sabotage the Taiwanese’s English ability; I merely want to find out the reasons why Taiwanese couldn’t express themselves in proper, correct English. Is that because the training they receive is not adequate or is that because the mass media doesn’t send the correct messages to the audience. :shock:

I, myself, admit that my English is not great and am still in learning process; it is something that I don’t think I’ll get tired of doing it. However, there must be ways to guide people who want to learn good English. :unamused:

Believe me, I did go to a couple of classes at these English learning Centers and I also watched a couple English-learning TV programs, but I am not impressed with what I saw or heard. I could easily identify the mistakes these “teachers” made. How could this happen?

Please accept my ignorance. There are a few things I am simply confused, be it a culture shock or reverse culture shock, that I’d like to learn more. :smiley:


I have been a member of Oriented/segue for a few months now and have closely watched many of the conversation threads with interest as I have just moved out here.

What I have noticed with stunning regularity is that many of the people that post replies always seem to go on the defensive and take it as a personal attack when someone posts somethinng that they deem not to be good.

Crunchnumber’s point is, I think, a valid one. Taking into account that Taiwan is a highly developed teaching market and that they do put a huge amount of emphasis on learning the language how come the level of English on display does not support this.

Is it because the methods employed aren’t as effective as they could be or is it because there is a general mob of bad “native-english” teachers that are employed in these ubiquitous language shcools.

No doubt I am opening myself up to a lot of abuse and sarcastic comments but it would only go to reinforce my earlier point. Please lighten up!

Crunchnumber does have a good point. So what is preventing some people from advancing their language ability?

I think people need to be honest. Most of the people “studying” don’t really want to learn and therefore don’t really try. The kids really don’t care and are forced to learn because of their parents.

Adult learners are often stuck in a “what section of the dictionary should I memorize?” mindset that doesn’t work. Memorization on a massive scale as a child was how they learned Chinese so that’s the only method they think works. They often forget that they are now adults that don’t have the time and energy to do that again. It’s hard to open their minds to other methods.

I don’t really fault the kids. I would rather go out and play too. But getting an adult learner to open their minds and really work at it shouldn’t be as hard as it is. It would also help if they would shun the endless pursuit of the almighty dollar for just a minute, then they might succeed.

For instance, has anyone noticed that women here often speak better English than men?

Hmmm …

Slimjim wrote:

You’r apparrantly smart enough trying to avoid yourself from bombarding. :wink:

Yes Taiwanese people put a lot of resourses in learning English, there’s still a long way to go and there’s a lot to be improved in terms of methods, systems, or whatever, but the problem is the way Crunchnumber talks. Let me rephrase what he said:

"I left Taiwan 10 years ago; now I came back, wiith excellent English but native people here cannot compete with me at all. Shame on them!!

Listen to those commentators. They are Taiwanese, and they can’t even pronounce English right! Do they really think they are entitled to make commentatary on those sport games? They can’t even say those players’ names right! My! Those Chinglish speakers!

All the radio or TV DJ, VJ, actors or newscast anchors, why bother saying English words in your conversation? If you can’t speak English fluently, then you are not allowed to say it at all, got it? My god!!!

Crunchnumber, I’m not criticizing you anymore because your second post is so humble :wink: , and from that we know that you just cannot employ the English language properly; you did not actually mean to say it that way.

So this is not about defensive (thouth sometimes yes), this is about the way we communicate.

I think there is one major reason- their general attitude on education. Education is not meant to learn about the world, expand yourself or learn new skills. The entire purpose is to get into a good college and thus career.

The ten years (or whatever) of mandatory English learning in K-12 is copmletely geared for tests - written tests. (The teachers themselves can’t really speak; how could they test students anyways?)
I remember when I studied Spanish for three years in high school; I was the master of memorizing 50 vocab words 10 minutes before the test, doing well, and then forgetting them the next day. It might not always be that extreme, but you get my drift.

Parents’ attitudes just reinforce this; they pay big bucks to a bushiban so their kid can be forced to be entertained by someone with no teaching skills (no offense to all the decent teachers out there; this is an overly vast generalization). Thus, Taiwanese businessmen out for big bucks open up bushibans; they ALWAYS make money, no matter if the kids learn or not (which is unfortunate, because from what I’ve seen, bushiban teachers are generally the worst people).

Teachers in Taiwan don’t help,either. Most think that they are the cream of the crop in society just because they’re teachers, and that they should be worshipped even though they can’t really do anything, and don’t really care about the kids.

IMHO, if they ever get rid of that stupid two-day, once a year test that determines one’s entire future, the Taiwanese education system might begin making improvements.

Just my NT$0.68…

Reminds me of some show I heard on the radio that had something to do with business English. Phone rings and operator answers with the typical “Good afternoon, Acme Wholesale” or something like that. Caller asks to speak to Mr. So-and-so and the operator/secretary/receptionist says, “Just a sec”.

Um, that’s not business English. “One moment please, while I transfer you,” or “May I tell him who is calling?” or even the lame but still usable “Please hold”, but not “Just a sec”.


Littleiron, please tell us more about this 2 day test they take once a year. What grade do they start taking the tests? Is it a placement test for the year? Or for several years (middle school/high school). My 5 yo is in kindergarten so I want to know what I should expect. I’ve heard from a couple of local teachers that the government is trying to get teachers to test less.


Sorry… I’m not really an expert in all this (just ranting… :smiley: ). As I understand it, the two day test is taken the summer after graduation from senior high school. Depending on how well they do numerically, they are allowed to go into certain universities (ie, the top 2% can choose any uni, the top 5% can choose any but the best, the top 8% can choose any but the two best…). I’m just making up numbers, by the way. And unfortunately, its only once a year, so if you aren’t feeling well those two days…

However, AFAIK, there are even entrance exams to get into jr high and sr high schools; the better your scores, the better the school you can get into, and the better your chances of getting into a good uni later (the pressure starts young!).

They are trying to find more progressive ways to enter college, and they’ve started accepting a limited number of direct applications and a couple of other methods…?

Again, I’m no expert, and I’m sure a lot of other people know better… anybody else care to explain in more detail?

I’ve noticed this quite often. I always just attributed it to the high number of Taiwanese girl/Western guy couples I see, but now I think that’s more an effect than a cause. Basically, women seem less comfortable than guys are with their Taiwanese identities. To many women (and, unfortunately, many foreigners), Taiwanese=low class, thus the greater effort to learn at least cosmetic English, fashions, etc.

[quote=“chessman71”]For instance, has anyone noticed that women here often speak better English than men?

Research into second language acquisition and gender, well- documents that women are typically better language learners than men. This could be attributed to learning styles and strategies, women employing cognitive and metacognitive strategies in combination. It may also be linked to right brain processing functions. Ever notice how liberal arts courses at universities are more populated with women, whilst engineering/mathematics classes attract more men?
Yet again, it has also been investigated that female attitudes about language learning, as Poagao mentioned above, are affective strategies in and of themselves.

Social Factors That Affect Social Language Acquisition

Brain Research: Implications for Second Language Learning

Language Learning Strategies: An Update. ERIC Digest.

Hey guys,

Thank you all for putting your insight (or NT$ 0.68) in this subject I raised. Many good points and I appreciate you taking time to express them here. I also thank you for not slapping four-letter-words to my ugly face! :wink:

A-Da, I wouldn’t say my English is excellent; can’t you tell from my writing? I still suck now and then, especially the spelling (spell checker is my best friend)! :mrgreen:

My next wonder is how could Taiwanese learn better English under the current environment they face here? Is this a complicated question to answer? Could it be done? Anyone got any idea?

I understand the government has made an effort to pormote English-learning environment but are they doing the right thing the right way? Kids seems like the victim in this all mess, too weak to express their opinion (if they’ve got any) to adults, but how about adults? How could we guide them to learn good English and benefit from it? Even though brain surgery has been performed in large scale these days (not that more Taiwanese women got on the operation table more often than the men as to speak better English), it’s hard to change the mindset of how Taiwanese could learn English in a different (maybe better?) way?!

Hmm, I’m just a person with many questions. :shock:

Take care,

Success with Foreign Languages:
Seven who achieved it and what worked for them
by Earl W. Stevick

One of the biggest problems Taiwanese have is a lack of effective Learning strategies

This is a great forum! :laughing:
I’m a bit shocked at an earlier comment made about buxiban teachers (littleiron?) generally being the worst. Forgive my ignorance, but is really the case here? From what I recall last I was there most of the laowai teachers taught kindergarten, a few of them even lucky enough to snag a position at a real elementary school. And, sad but true, but most of them neither taught well nor even cared, and were simply exploiting the market at the expense of the children they were supposed to be teaching.

As I found out quickly that teaching children (babysitting, playing games and singing songs, entertaining, what have you) was not my gig I ended up teaching at a buxiban a couple nights a week, and loved it.

Although I found out after a while that the owner of the “school” was a big greedy bastard (sorry, but no other word to honestly describe him) I ended up staying. I realized that I enjoyed teaching there more than any of the other classes I had. I had big, full classes, packed with adults who really listened to what I said, asked questions, and wanted to participate. And all the other teachers there (all 4 of them) were really good teachers and, like me, did it because they truly enjoyed teaching and wanted to do a good job.

This buxiban paid way less than any other class or student I had, but I felt a connection there with the students and knew that I was really making a difference in being there. In addition the other teachers, one of whom had been teaching there for 6 years at that same school, felt the same about teaching and were fully commited to being there to teach. So in this I wonder about the comment made previously about buxiban teachers…

Am I wrong in my thinking that we (the buxiban teachers)are not looked down upon as the lower-grade in the teaching industry here? From what I’ve seen most of the others teaching at the kindergartens and elementary schools fit this stereotype. But I could be wrong. :unamused:

Anyone free to comment or set me straight?

Actually, I wasn’t making any distinction between bushibans and kindergartens or whatever… My point wasn’t to bash teachers at all, my main point was just saying the entire setup/environment severely detracts from people learning actual English effectively. Speaking within the microcosm of the bushiban, I think its generally the boss’s fault (and parents) that nobody learns rather than the teachers.

I don’t know about kindergarten teachers vs bushiban teachers (I don’t have enough experience with either to say anything), but everything else you said rings true with me. Although adults who are paying you out of their own pockets rather than kids forced to attend after-school school sounds more like something I’d be interested in…

Littleiron, thanks for clearing that up. I didn’t take it as an attack but was a bit curious as to what you meant in that statement. And I totally understand and agree with your statement on the differences in teaching children and adults. :wink: