Saturday, May 26, 2007

Test-oriented policy of English learning suffocates the learners¡¦ creativity

Dear Editor,

I'd like to express my opinion about the recent fever of English proficiency
tests in Taiwan. Thank you for the time.

Sincerely yours,
Frances Huang Mei-Tzu


Name: Huang Mei-Tzu


Test-oriented policy of English learning suffocates the learners¡¦

The education system in Taiwan is famous for its test-oriented policy, where
students must go on an arduous journey of entrance exams to approach to a
higher level of schooling. Inevitably, this rationale has been imposed upon
evaluating students¡¦ English proficiency level and gradually suffocates
their creative linguistic production. Many of the students become
well-trained test-takers who don¡¦t really enjoy the process of leaning
English, let alone appreciate the beauty of language itself. Alas, that is
indeed a tragedy to me, a lover of English.

The ¡§testing¡¨ phenomenon becomes worse when the government officially
promotes GEPT ¡V general English proficiency test. The ideal purpose of GEPT
was to recognize the importance of English in Taiwan and encourage folks to
learn it well. However, the reality turns into putting the cart before the
horse. Most parents in Taiwan have this fear that their children might not
be competitive with others, so eagerly, they send their children to the
test-training courses where numerous test examples are provided, answering
skills are cleverly taught, and the students are effectively trained.

The test results might be satisfactory, but the competence to master and use
the language would be limited. The weakness comes to the surface when
learners encounter the moments that they need to use English in reality.
Students who study abroad are evident examples. Many of them, with the help
of test-training courses, are able to pass the required tests. Later, they
find themselves grapple with their academic and social lives overseas
because everything goes beyond the materials that they are familiar with in
the tests. Language creativity is much more important than the results shown
in scores. Learning English actively with intrinsic motivation enhances
language creativity. There are efficient ways to learn English well other
than taking proficiency tests as ultimate goals. Let the horse lead the cart
and it will be able to take us to the destination where we are able to
freely express ourselves.

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