TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Sunday that her administration will lay out plans to make the country bilingual by 2030 so that younger Taiwanese will be able to communicate directly with the English-speaking community to increase international awareness of the country.
Tsai made the comments during a seminar with a group of high school students in Taipei during which one of the students raised the question of whether the government will inject more budget to support high school students’ international exchanges with foreign counterparts.
In response, the president said the Ministry of Education has been funding such exchange programs for a long time but needs to further expand the programs to offer more opportunities in this regard.
She pointed out that during her inaugural address on May 20, she briefly mentioned that in her second four-year-term, she plans to cultivate more bilingual talent to make Taiwan “a bilingual country” so that its people can further connect with the international community.
Raising English-language proficiency will help to remove the language barrier to boost Taiwanese people’s interactions with foreign nationals, Tsai said.
The next step for the government is to put forward a nationwide “2030 Bilingual Country Project,” the president said, adding that one crucial part of the project is to create more English-speaking environments locally so that students can practice their English- language skills.
“The younger generation of Taiwanese need to learn how to clearly explain to the international community what kind of country Taiwan is, as well as its core values and its people,” the president said.
She said one major problem of Taiwan’s current English teaching is that schools focus more on teaching vocabulary and grammar.
“We need to provide a comprehensive English learning environment so that speaking English becomes a very natural thing in the country” she said, adding that this will be a major challenge for the government over the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, during the same seminar, the president said her administration is building a solid foundation in terms of the nation’s democratic and economic developments “so that the younger generation will have more room to exercise their talent and make their own decisions.”
The future of the country will be in the hands of the younger generation, she said, adding that it is important for Taiwanese youths to learn to make their own decisions and assume more responsibility.
To realize that goal, the president said her administration is planning to lower the legal voting age to 18 from the existing 20, she noted.