Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Language Rights


At 5/23/2007 10:26 PM, Blogger Dennis said...

Hello, Aiden--and students.

The information presented in this slide show is thought-provoking--particularly the references to a preference in some cultures for teachers who are speakers pf North American English and who are young, blue-eyed, and blond. I've known of this "mind set" for some time and have always felt dismayed at the type of "English experts" it can produce. I'm particularly dismayed that those who speak forms of English other than North American and who do not have a Northern European ethnic background are so often favored over others.

I live in an area where Spanish is spoken (as both a primary and an auxiliary language) by a very large portion of the population; Spanish is not, however, an officially sanctioned secondary language here. Further, those who do not know Spanish often feel threatened by it--and by the ever-growing number of Spanish speakers. The English-only movement has some strong supporters!

It is refreshing, however, to see that diversity is slowly being accepted here in spite of opposition to languages other than English and cultures other than those of Northern European origin.

Dennis in Phoenix

At 5/26/2007 10:25 AM, Blogger Aiden said...

Posted in behalf of Frances Huang:

Dear Aiden,
I still can't remember my user name and password, but i'd like to
respond to Dennis's comment. Could you please kindly post my comment
on the blog for me?

____________ _________ _________

Hello, Dennis

I am Frances from Aiden’s lc class. First, I’d like to send my
appreciation for the wise and objective message you left in
Chinswing regarded to the discussion of “native speakers = better
teachers?” I’d like to take the chance to add something that I
didn’t mention in that discussion– although many of the native
speakers don’t take their teaching jobs in Taiwan seriously, there
are still quite a few native speaker teachers who really enjoy and
devote themselves to the teaching career. I do respect them a lot.

And I’d like to share what I think about the “Fever of English
language” in Taiwan with you. Language learning phenomenon is quite
“irrational” in Taiwan, because it is in someway twisted. English
is the tool for international communication, but learning English
has become a means for private business to make great profits.
Taiwan has been in a difficult diplomatic situation due to the cross-
strait relationship and problem with China. Our government has been
struggling with the diplomatic oppression from China and trying
things they could in hopes of bringing Taiwan to the outside world.
And promoting English is one of them. English is seen as a gateway
for Taiwan to reach the global stage where Taiwan has not yet gained
a place.

But without a well-rounded program, English learning turns to be
very commercialized and even fake. Parents send their children to
cram schools because other people’s children are learning English.
Children sit in class and some of them are frustrated because their
parents make them come to the class. Therefore, the result turns out
to be high investment in learning English with low language
production and competence, because the learners (especially for
those who live in rural areas) don’t really have enough
opportunities to use the language actively. What makes the
situation worse is that the government has recognized the authority
of GEPT (general English proficiency test). In this way, English
learning would become more test-oriented.

Let me gather all the adjective together, English learning in
private business is irrational, commercialized, low in language
production and competence and test-oriented. I am not saying that no
one could use English well in Taiwan, in fact, there are plenty of
fluent English speakers in Taiwan. But for the prevalence of English
around Taiwan, we still have a long way to go.


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