Promotion of Southeast Asian languages


If this catches on, hopefully they won’t need to go to Vietnamese buxibans after school to “supplement” what they learned earlier in the day (as with English). :slight_smile:

There is (arguably) some political involvement:

While Vietnamese-language instruction is not prevalent in the public education system, the government’s promotion of its “new southbound policy” would make knowledge of Southeast Asian languages a competitive asset for Taiwan’s next generation, school principal Tai Chin-lung (戴進隆) said.


There were 208,000 children of Southeast Asian immigrants in elementary and junior-high schools in Taiwan in 2015, 40.7 percent of whom were of Vietnamese heritage, 10.6 percent Indonesian and 2.2 percent Philippine, the data showed.

The government is rolling out the Southeast Asian language program with the aim of offering at least one foreign language option to all students in the K-12 system, and to help Taiwan-born children of immigrants learn their mother tongues so that they can work in Southeast Asia if they wish, Tsai said.


This article is talking about a demand for Vietnamese and other southeast Asian languages to be taught in Taiwan. So if you speak Chinese and one of those languages, maybe you have a job opportunity.

But when you read it, you come to this

The government is rolling out the Southeast Asian language program with the aim of offering at least one foreign language option to all students in the K-12 system, while helping Taiwan-born children of immigrants to learn their mother tongues so that they could work in Southeast Asia in the future if they wish, according to Tsa.

The phrase “Taiwan-born children of immigrants” stands out as showing that the government doesn’t consider children born to a Taiwanese father and SE Asian mother to be Taiwanese and probably inferior to Taiwanese.

Reading between the lines, it seems that they want to teach these children their mother’s language, so they will leave Taiwan.


If you have to learn the language in school, how is it your “mother tongue.” These people are really confused when it comes to issues of ethnicity and nationality.


“Mother tongue” or “母語” is a term they have always used in the education system for home languages like Minnan, Hakka and aboriginal languages.


Well, I guess it literally is their “mother’s tongue,” even though it’s not their mother tongue. But I suspect 母語 is a literal translation of the English term.


I think it’s that, and also perhaps Taiwanese wanting easier business dealings with SE Asia as a way to ween themselves off of China. I could be wrong though; the former seems likely, after all Taiwanese now fear (rightfully so) that the SE Asians will slowly replace much of them. Given every country’s right to self-determination, it would make sense for them to want to control the foreigner population. Us Westerners are a drop in the bucket compared to the Viets and Thais.


I think you’re reading a little too much into the phrase “Taiwan-born children of immigrants” (assuming the translation is accurate). I’m not saying there isn’t racism against Southeast Asians or that the phrase is ideal, but I don’t see actual malice in what the official said.

And if they really want to get rid of these kids, giving them an economic advantage (as SF said) sounds like an odd way to do it.

@Dr_Milker You can have a mother tongue that you aren’t qualified to use for various purposes because you never learned it academically. You might not even be literate in it.


You mean like to write business letters or something? I suppose that’s possible, but do you think that’s what they meant? The new government does seem to be trying to better serve the interests of immigrants (well, the female ones anyway) and their children, but most of their efforts seem either half-assed or half-baked.


Definition of mother tongue :

Definition of mother tongue
1: one’s native language
2: a language from which another language derives

How can someone grow up speaking Mandarin but yet have a different native language? (Unless you grow up speaking several, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here).


Yes. Think of the average North American you know who grew up in a household with one immgrant parent and one local parent. In adulthood, how does the person compare with someone who went through the old country’s education system? Again, the person may be illiterate in the relevant language.

How would removing extracurricular tuition affect the result? (Heritage language “buxibans” for kids are definitely a thing in NA, but not so much in Taiwan, unless the language is English, Japanese, etc.)

How would adjusting the immigrant parent’s educational background to match that of the average foreign spouse in Taiwan affect the result?

If it’s the language you grew up speaking with your mother, it’s reasonable to call it your mother tongue. That doesn’t mean learning it at school is a waste of time.