Taiwan to make English official second Language


for example pronouncing the letter “X” as “e-kuh-suh

Last year I found a children’s book that teaches the alphabet from bopomofo. Facepalm, NOPE

Funny anecdote: I once had to tell someone “Sorry, I don’t speak Taiwanese”. Seconds later I got what she said, she was trying to speak English using bopomofo sounds…


syllables that end with consonants. Chinese speakers of English far too often either add a superfulous vowel sound to the end of these or drop the sound entirely.

This is a big one here.


I can attest to this. Many universities are training teachers to instruct students in a very academic way. It won’t work. I’ve seen and evaluated the results. They don’t gain practical skills and learn to engage with students. Their profs are “academics” who often publish articles that contribute nothing to pedagogical and practical knowledge.

Can you please clarify this?

I’m not disagreeing, but not sure what context you are referring to. Can you please explain a bit more? Thanks.

I would stop short at saying the whole system is corrupted. I’ve seen some renegade teachers and innovative principals at the elementary and preschool level. I’ve also spoken to very knowledgeable and sensible officials locally, regionally, and nationally. I wish I could give them public credit. However, I do acknowledge that there is a top down flow of crap policy (I blame policy, since the system can be overcome). This top down flow of garbage meets the positive and innovative up flow from our educators of younger learners. Usually at the Junior High level. I often argue that things need change from the top. However, please forgive me for making a joke: those who can’t do, teach; those who can’t teach, become teacher trainers :sweat:; those who have no concept of education become MOE administrators. Only partly joking.


Can premier lai speak English himself?


I’ve been saying this for years, as thousands of others have. Most of the curriculum planners here (that I’ve spoken with) have not even heard of Krashen and Comprehensible input!
I was watching a school manager teaching their native English speaking teachers how to teach, and one piece of advice given was “Don’t talk too much, let the students do more talking among themselves”.
If they actually were serious about improving the second language abilities of their youth then it could be done ; however that would result in far less monetary reward for the Cram schools.


The biggest problem would be the lack of foreigners here to drive the demand to learn and use English as a daily language.



I was involved in helping write policy (not English related, so don’t blame me). Basically I wrote the section our “team” was responsible for, then translated to Chinese. The supervisor for our section made revisions, I accepted the reasons ones and rejected the rest (some of the useless ideas were just poplar jargon, others were illogical). Next step, discussing with the big dogs. They generally accepted everything but wanted to have the same number of “points” for each section, as it would look better. I just combined two points and it “looked” good enough. It’s now policy.

I’m evidently arrogant enough not to kowtow to the brass and stick to the policy points that made sense; after all, I was one of the experts. Other team members dared not challenge senseless content and additions of useless jargon (arrogant foreigner). I’m very sure, on other cases, the “elite” at the top got their way. So, many of our policies are based on “hot” topics that are no longer “hot” or ideas that were treated, but failed under empirical scrutiny.

Situation Normal: +++


taiwan is already separated culturally. taiwan has culture, china has shopping malls.
i see what you are saying but i don’t agree with it, it would be like taking away some of taiwans good points just to be unique, which you could argue it wouldn’t be anyway because taiwanese also comes from china.


Might that not be Krashen’s fault for failing to make himself understood and repeating himself enough?


The teachers do not have time to teach nor can engage the kids. There is no time between test taking, test preparing, etc. Daily tests, mid terms, finals…while teaching kids how to tie their shoes, deal with others.

Classes still divided by «ability». Kids literally having their fates stitched to their chests in the form of their student number, etc.


Most common theories used in TESOL and TEFL are ignored here, ands by that I mean people don’t know and the instructors do not want to know. They have their own theories which look a lot like a certain controversial California based theorist who advocated the nefarious T1 teaching for immigrants, hence slowing their integration. Here in Taiwan you will hear all kinds of justification to teaching in Chinese. The best one I have heard was at master level in Taida, discussing English literature in Chinese «because that is the way they do it in Germany».


I see what you did there. : P



I won’t give up the day job.


Thank you for your explanation. If this is an English teaching related comment, I would say that: 1) paper and pencil testing is, indeed, an issue. I do reinforce my (future ETs) students with the idea that you assess what you teach. If you use songs, authentic dialogues, more productive language activities, you then test according to THOSE activities. The equivalent, but less effective application, is “teach to the test” using paper and pencil quizzes and homework. 2) The crap starts at the top. College entrance exams influence high school entrance exams all the way down to elementary fifth and sixth grades. The nature of these tests, up until very recently was almost exclusively reading and writing, with some listening comprehension thrown in. But , what are the basic skills of any language? Listening and Speaking, of course. 3) Despite test pressure, I’ve seen many renegade teachers actively engage students. Not only the newer generation, but interestingly the more experienced teachers. There is hope, a lot of hope. 4) I do tell my ET students that no matter what, a teacher is a teacher. A role model. Needing to call about life skills, personal issues, etc. Yes, so ETs do teach kids beyond language skills

In terms of stigmatizing influences: 1) I’ve never seen a case in Taiwan, in primary or secondary schools, where students numbers were not based on gender and age (according to your birthday), 2) There are two ongoing theories regarding the legality of schools separating classes into levels (I know of a few schools in the past who separated higher and lower English Proficiency students to perform a type of differentiated instruction). I’ve heard it’s still legal, but most schools I know of stopped doing it due to their belief it’s illegal. One school I know (small, two classes per grade) still does this successfully, due to participating in a government project. Their solution to stigmatization is to let students and their parents assigned to basic or advanced classes choose to opt themselves into the other level. Some kids in the higher level want an easy option. Some parents and kids assigned to the lower levels want more opportunities. 3) Student numbers are helpful for class management and other duties. Separating students by even or odd numbers eliminates gender and other factors, for example


Ok, complete n00b here. I am going to apologize right now if this is a stupid question.

I know next to nothing about teaching or Chinese or teaching Chinese, etc.

So question for those who do, what do you think about the efficacy of real-time translation using machine learning as a substitute for learning English?

The link notes that about 5 months ago Microsoft supposedly achieved a high quality (“with human accuracy”), Chinese>English translation in real time. I suppose the other way is a problem, but I’m not sure.

What I’m saying is, rather than invest in language education why not invest in developing a phone app that provides high-quality, instant translation Chinese<>English? The app would use the phone’s speaker to verbalize and I suppose the app could be developed to provide a copy of the conversation in both languages (although that’s only an assumption on my part). Seems to me that if English language acquisition is a public good for Taiwan, a real-time translator would be faster, cheaper, easier, less frightening, and more accepted by Taiwanese.

I suppose it could generate sales revenue as well, especially if such machine learning could be applied to other languages. Would seem to be a large investment in any case.

Am I missing something here? Has this been done or tried already?


Language isn’t just a form of communication but also a part of culture. It isn’t so much about people’s inability to communicate with each other, but being able to speak another persons language goes a long way in terms of building relationships. Plus within each language, accents are important. I can tell in Chinese where a person is from in most cases, as well as in Korean and English. So I don’t think language learning is purely about being able to communicate. There’s also social aspects to it. There’s a reason why the church insisted on copying the Bible in Latin when only the clergy and loyalty would learn Latin or how Chinese was only available to learn inside the forbidden city. There’s a level of social class being able to speak a language. Like you said, anyone with google translate can kinda get by. That’s my guess on why technology isn’t paving the way.


The same reason calculators make us useless with maths (what’s the square of 11 for example). Moreover, our spelling ability gets increasingly worse due to autocorrect. Although, in my case, autocorrect usually messes up what I want to say. By the, for example 「拉肚子」英文怎麼拼?


Google translate is pretty crappy sometimes. I wouldn’t want to have to use GT if I had to depend on it for my life.

I guess I’m assuming Microsoft’s machine learning methods are better than Google, but I don’t know enough about either to know for sure.

Anyway, it seems that translation programs are on the horizon for us all, and will likely be used in the near future.


Right, I’m not doubting the technology or criticizing it. We will probably one day have the ability to have something like implants to translate. But what language you know is and always has been tied to social class. Plus it’s a important way to identify your kin so to say or possibly an enemy. For example I probably wouldn’t bring up how I feel about Taiwan’s status as a country with a person with a strong Beijing accent. I don’t think we can eliminate these aspect of language. I can clearly tell if someone is from the south of Taiwan or from Taipei in most cases.


I believe that Trump, Merkel et al have a similar policy to you on that one.