KK in Taiwan

I started this tread in the culture and history forum but I wonder if it would have had more ‘interesting’ responses if I posted it in the teaching forum instead

An intersting discussion on whether to teach phonemic writing systems to children. I wonder who children (or adults for that matter) are going to remember the pronunciation of words without some phonemic script to help them. IMHO one of the greatest barriers to communication facing Chinese speaking learners of English is the problem of correct pronunciation. Surely these problems would be lessened if they were taught how to pronounce words properly from the beginning, and more attention was paid to word and sentence stress, and intonation ? Learning a phonemic script also increases learner autonomy when that script is used in most dictionaries. Again we see Taiwan isolating itself from the world by choosing a non standard method of phonemic transcription… First KK, and now Wu Yong Pinyin.

They don’t teach kk phonics in Taiwan anyway, do they? I taught it to adult immigrants in Aus, but have never seen it used in Tawan yet, nor do I know of anyone who teaches it here either.

Well, they use to. I remember it, and it’s in all my dictionaries from Taiwan. I remember that no foreign teachers had ever heard of it and the Chinese teachers couldn’t believe it - thought we were mad (or crap). I know two people who had taught English all over Europe, had CELTA, DELTA, and MAs, and had never heard of it until I mentioned it.

Everyone else uses the IPA system, but Taiwan uses KK
Everyone else uses Hanyu Pinyin, but Taiwan uses Tongyong
Almost everyone else uses simple Chinese characters, but Taiwan uses traditional
Taiwan is the only place using Bo Po Mo Fo but Mainland Chinese can type in and pronounce international Pinyin

I’m quite sure that all of these sound decisions were linguistically rather than politically motivated.

We begin our kids learning ‘natural’ pronunciation. (I’m not sure what they mean by the word ‘natural’. It is an overly loaded word IMHO) What this ‘natural’ pronumciation boils down to is to learn the alphabet with phonics. AAA ah ah ah A ah apple. You get the picture.

After they have become deliriously bored of alphabet drills we hand them Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop. They are supposed to take the alphabet phonics and combine them in simple words. Cup on pup. The kids get a kick out of it. It is cool to see the little sponges pick it all up so quickly.

After this something strange happens…

Parents start to look at what the junior high school is going to test in a few years down the road – that is, KK.

Soon after this great discovery is made the parents make it down to the school director to inquire why their child is not learning KK. He tells them that it is not appropriate for their kid to start to learn KK until they are at a much higher level. The thing is that KK just gets in the way of a kid who is trying to read. Some parents get it, some don’t. They pull their kid out and put them in a school that is going to teach them ‘testable’ english.

It is really a shame.

In my opinion, KK is just a tool. At advanced levels it is helpful to know when you are looking in the paper dictionary and you are having trouble with the finer points of the pronunciation. However, when a student is starting out, the teacher should not try to purposefully complicate an already complicated process.

Sometimes it really urks me that parents think that they have a better understanding of what their kids should be learning than the kids’ teacher does. Maybe the parents ought to attend some classes about language learning. :smiling_imp:

I see where you’re coming from in terms of small kids - I would agree. Kids of course have the ability to pick things up without all the complicated systems we adults need. One thing I remember from the few very young classes I had was the incredible ability kids had to pick up colds and pass them on to the teacher.

Yeah they are little germ factories…

The simplified v traditional character debate which was here now rages on (?) over here in Culture…