English to be included in all civil service tests

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Examination Yuan will make English a mandatory subject in all civil service examinations in Taiwan within two years as part of a plan to beef up the international competitiveness of the civil servants here. Examination Minister Yang Chaur-shin announced the plan yesterday in response to a suggestion made by President Ma Ying-jeou at a meeting with members of the Examination Yuan on Sept. 1

Designating English as a subject of national examinations in civil service tests will help enhance public employees’ competitiveness, and their ability to keep abreast with a changing international situation, Yang said.

Possessing the ability to speak, read and write English has become especially important as Taiwan seeks to attract more foreign investors and tourists from overseas, he said. International businesspeople and visitors can become frustrated when they run into problems if civil servants, policemen or other people whose services they are likely to need are unable to provide timely assistance because they do not speak fluent English.

English-speaking government workers can also help Taiwan spot and take advantage of international exchanges and investment opportunities overseas.

Currently about 80 percent of the 315 examinations designed for the country’s civil servants include a test in English, said Yang. The remaining 20 percent of the examinations will have an English test within two years. Disabled candidates aspiring for joining government agencies will be excluded from the mandatory English test, Yang said.

Yang explained that the Constitution provides special protection for disabled people’s right to work and it is quite difficult for those with impaired eyesight and hearing to learn a foreign language.

For civil service examinations in which English is already a part of the test, the weight given to scores in the English portion of the examinations will be increased gradually, according to Yang.

For those categories of civil service in which the English language is frequently used, English will be made a separate and independent subject of test, the minister said.

The Ministry of Examination is also working on a system to grade the English ability of people who want to take the civil service examination for jobs in the fields of foreign service, international information, civil aviation or international economic service.