Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Charlene's letter posted on China post

Click here to read the letter posted on China Post.

Here's a copy of the published letter. Congratulations, Charlene!

Foreign English teachers must understand local culture
Wu Hsiao-ling Kaohsiung City

As everybody knows, the topic of whether hiring foreign teachers is good or not is popular one in Taiwan. Some people say that foreign teachers are beneficial to the children's English pronunciation and writing, but some say it's difficult to examine the foreign teachers' moral standings and qualifications. In this verbal battle, the cultural difference between the nonnative teachers and Taiwanese students tend to be neglected.


Foreign teachers' expectations for the students are different from Taiwanese teachers' expectations because of the cultural differences.


Sometimes the different understandings of culture and English deficiency cause unfortunate misunderstandings between teachers and students. The misunderstandings might in fact not only diminish students' interests for learning English but also disappoint foreign teachers teaching overseas.


Language and culture are inseparable. Assisting those foreigners who want to teach English in Taiwan in understanding Taiwanese culture is urgent and essential. Only by knowing the nation's culture, can a foreign teacher guide local students to understand his or her own culture and language. The department of Education in Taiwan should offer courses that are related to Taiwanese culture and moreover, require foreigners to be intern teachers before they can officially be teachers of English in Taiwan. All of these are helpful ways for both nonnative teachers and students to adapt to each other since, after all, teaching is a way of communicating.

1 comment:

dan said...


Give young Taiwanese credit, encouragement on English

Dan Bloom, Chiayi City

In your editorial titled "TEFL scores in Taiwan: a humiliating failure" (Aug. 23), you correctly point out some important aspects of English education in this country, and I hope the nation's educators are listening.


However, when the editorial states that "despite huge amounts of resources invested, the campaign to make Taiwanese students proficient in English has been an ignominious failure", I must disagree. When the editorial further states that "[sadly], Taiwanese citizens' ability to use English has made little, if any, progress over the years," I must also disagree.


It's been my experience, and it's my view, that Taiwanese young people have made giant strides in the last ten years or so in learning English. Rather than always criticize the current state of English learning, why not offer some positive words of encouragement for a change?


I see all around me on a daily basis high school students and college students and graduate students from all over Taiwan who speak English very well, and can comfortably communicate with foreigners in English. Let's give them some credit. Let's congratulate the younger generation for learning English and making it part of their daily lives.


Compared with Japan, where people speak the most atrocious English on the planet — I'm kidding! — Taiwan is doing a very good job of absorbing English into daily life, and things will only get better as time goes on.


I would like to give Taiwanese people high marks for their English skills, and while there is still much improvement that needs to be made, of course, I think they have been doing a very good job of learning English and incorporating it into their daily lives. Look at the bright side! Things are much better now than they were 25 years ago! English is more or less the unofficial second language of Taiwan right now. This is a huge accomplishment.