[lg policy] KMT lawmaker pans premier’s bilingual policy

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Oct 24 11:14:18 EDT 2018

-- KMT lawmaker pans premier’s bilingual policy LEGISLATIVE QUESTION:English
proficiency would be a better goal for Taiwan than having English as a
second official language, Ko Chih-en told William Lai
By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

The government’s plan to make English the nation’s second official language
would be a waste of resources and of little help in improving the nation’s
competitiveness, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ko Chih-en
(柯志恩) said yesterday.

“If the government wants to improve people’s English proficiency, it should
establish a committee to promote English proficiency instead of a committee
to promote English as an official language. They are two entirely different
things,” she said during a question-and-answer session at the Legislative
Yuan in Taipei.

The Executive Yuan in October last year instructed the Ministry of
Education to establish a Committee to Promote English as an Official
Language to research English education policies and draft a plan on how to
achieve the goal.

It said in August that it would present policy goals next year for making
Taiwan a “bilingual nation” that speaks Chinese as well as English.

Asked how the Executive Yuan plans to promote the policy, Premier William
Lai (賴清德) said the first goal was to make Taiwan “a bilingual nation, where
the government would use both English and Chinese.”

English could be promoted as a second official language once the first goal
has been met, he said.

Promoting English as a second official language might be “the wrong thing
to focus on,” as that has nothing to do with global competitiveness, Ko

Of the 76 nations that have designated English as their official language,
most were former colonies of Britain, she said.

“Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Iceland do not have English as an official
language, but they have a higher GDP than Taiwan. Belize, Zimbabwe and
Uganda are officially English-speaking countries, but are they more
competitive than us?” she said.

Recklessly implementing the policy could lead to great waste of educational
and governmental resources, she said.

“English might not radically change things for the better, but it
definitely helps,” Lai said.

Ko also criticized the Executive Yuan’s plan to relax the regulations on
foreign teachers in the face of a need for more English teachers for the
bilingual policy plan.

According to a National Development Council bill on economic immigration,
foreigners with a college degree would be eligible to teach English and
other subjects at elementary, junior-high and senior-high schools as well
as universities, while Taiwanese would still have to meet many
qualifications — including taking teaching courses, completing an
internship, obtaining teaching certificates and passing tests — to qualify
as teachers, the lawmaker said.

Was it really necessary to lower the threshold for foreign teachers, Ko
asked the premier.

The bill has yet to be approved by the Executive Yuan and the government
would implement supplementary measures for foreign teachers when it is, Lai
said, adding that most teachers would still be Taiwanese.

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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