TAIWAN-LANGUAGE

Posted on in Politica e lingue 5 vedi

TAIWAN-LANGUAGE

TAIPEI, SEPT 25 (REUTERS) – STRUGGLING WITH THE SING-SONG TONES THAT MAKE CHINESE SO FRUSTRATING FOR FOREIGNERS, HANNA BOEHME HOPES HER HARD WORK AT TAIPEI’S MANDARIN TRAINING CENTRE EVENTUALLY WILL PAY OFF. BUT THE 22-YEAR-OLD GERMAN SAYS PERSONAL MOTIVATION MAY BE THE LEAST OF HER WORRIES AS TAIWAN’S SWEEPING CHANGES ERODE ITS COVETED STATUS AS THE PRE-EMINENT PLACE TO LEARN CHINESE. "CLASSES HAVE BECOME BIGGER AND BIGGER. WE’RE NO LONGER ALLOWED TO KEEP TEACHERS FOR MORE THAN ONE TERM. THIS AFFECTS OUR LEARNING NEGATIVELY," SAID BOEHME. "MANY STUDENTS ARE SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT LEAVING." THE PLACE MANY ARE TURNING TO IS COMMUNIST CHINA, TAIWAN’S BITTER RIVAL FOR FIVE DECADES, WHOSE ZEAL TO ATTRACT LANGUAGE STUDENTS IS POLITICAL AS WELL AS POTENTIALLY LUCRATIVE."BEIJING FEELS AS IF IT SHOULD BE THE KEEPER OF THE CHINESE LANGUAGE," SAID KAN SHIOYUN, AN OXFORD UNIVERSITY CHINESE TEACHER WHO HOSTED A DELEGATION OF MAINLAND EDUCATORS IN JUNE. MOST MAINLAND UNIVERSITIES ARE OPENING MANDARIN CENTRES. THERE THE LANGUAGE IS CALLED PUTONGHUA AND IS THE OFFICIAL STATE DIALECT. "THE PROMOTION OF CHINESE-LANGUAGE TEACHING TO FOREIGNERS IS A POLITICAL PRIORITY IN CHINA," KAN SAID. "THERE ARE EVEN PLANS FOR A GOVERNMENT-FUNDED INTERNET-BASED TEACHI PROGRAM."GUARDIAN OF THE CHINESE LANGUAGE SINCE ITS 1949 CIVIL WAR DEFEAT ON THE MAINLAND, THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA GOVERNMENT THAT NOW RULES ONLY TAIWAN HAS SEEN ITSELF AS THE GUARDIAN OF CHINA’S LANGUAGE AND CULTURE AGAINST TUMULTUOUS SOCIAL RE-ENGINEERING WAGED BY THE VICTORIOUS COMMUNISTS.WHILE SOCIALIST STATES HAVE LONG TURNED TO BEIJING FOR STUDY OF THE OFFICIAL MANDARIN DIALECT, DIPLOMATS, STUDENTS AND MERCHANTS FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD HAVE FLOCKED TO TAIWAN, RENOWNED FOR ADVANCED, STUDENT-CENTRED TEACHING AND A RELATIVELY FREE, FRIENDLY AND FUN-LOVING WAY OF LIFE. EXPERTS SAY MANDARIN TEACHING HAS ADVANCED TAIPEI’S RIVALRY WITH BEIJING, ENGENDERING A LIFELONG FONDNESS FOR TAIWAN AMONG FUTURE MOVERS AND SHAKERS WHO SPENT THEIR FORMATIVE YEARS IN ITS CLASSROOMS. "IF TAIWAN WANTS TO BUILD STRONG INTERNATIONAL TIES, THE BEST WAY IS TO TAKE CARE OF THESE FOREIGN STUDENTS," SAID PATRICK HOGAN, LANGUAGE CENTRE DIRECTOR AT TAIPEI’S FUREN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY. "THEY CAN BE AMBASSADORS OF GOODWILL FOR TAIWAN."SQUANDERING A POLITICAL ASSET? THERE IS GROWING EVIDENCE TAIWAN IS LOSING ITS EDGE IN LANGUAGE TEACHING. WASHINGTON STILL HAS CHINESE-TRAINING CENTRES IN TAIWAN FOR U.S. DIPLOMATS DESPITE STRIPPING TAIPEI OF OFFICIAL RECOGNITION IN 1979, BUT HAS BEGUN NEGOTIATING WITH CHINA’S FOREIGN MINISTRY TO LAUNCH A MANDARIN CENTRE IN THE MAINLAND CAPITAL. ALSO, THE STANFORD CENTRE — A VENERABLE MANDARIN-TEACHING CONSORTIUM BACKED BY STANFORD UNIVERSITY AND OTHER TOP-FLIGHT US. COLLEGES — RECENTLY ABANDONED TAIWAN UNIVERSITY FOR BEIJING’S QINGHUA UNIVERSITY. MOREOVER, NOT EVERYONE WAS UPSET TO SEE STANFORD GO — A CLEAR REFLECTION OF THE "TAIWANISATION" OF LOCAL POLITICS."SOME TAIWAN UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS THOUGHT IT WAS NOT RIGHT TO GIVE THIS SPACE TO FOREIGNERS WITHOUT GETTING ANY BENEFIT IN RETURN," SAYS LU GUANG-CHENG, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE SCHOOL THAT INHERITED STANFORD’S PREMISES."SOME IN OUR STATE CULTURAL DIVISIONS BELIEVE TEACHING MANDARIN AND MAINLAND CULTURE ISN’T WHAT WE SHOULD DO."LI CHEN-CHING, WHO OVERSEES INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN THE EDUCATION MINISTRY, SAID THE MINISTRY IS HANDCUFFED BY FINANCIAL STRAINS AS WELL AS ACUTE POLITICAL PRESSURE, PARTICULARLY FROM OPPOSITION MPS. "IT COMES FROM LAWMAKERS, MOSTLY OF THE DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY, WHO WANT TO SEE TAIWANESE LOCAL CULTURE AND LANGUAGE ENCOURAGED," LI SAID.TEACHING IS ABOUT DOLLARS AT TAIWAN’S BIGGEST AND MOST PROMINENT CHINESE SCHOOL, THE 1,000-STUDENT MANDARIN TRAINING CENTRE, DIRECTOR LUO CHING SAYS HIS PRIORITY IS PROFIT — NOT DIPLOMACY."WE WANT TO RUN A FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL CENTRE," LUO SAYS.THE CENTRE ACCEPTS STUDENTS DETERMINED TO MASTER MANDARIN, BUT EMPHASISES LUCRATIVE SHORT-TERM STUDY TOURS FOR ACADEMICS OR WEALTHY INDIVIDUALS DABBLING IN CHINESE CULTURE AND ART."WE AREN’T EARNING VERY MUCH FROM OUR REGULAR STUDENTS BUT DO EARN A GREAT DEAL FROM THESE CULTURAL STUDY TOURS," HE SAID.BUT STUDENTS IN LUO’S PROGRAMMES HAVE BECOME RESTLESS."A LOT OF US FEEL THAT EVERYTHING IS DONE TO DRIVE STUDENTS AWAY," SAID RAVIT KADOSH, A STUDENT FROM ISRAEL."THE ATMOSPHERE IS CHARACTERISED BY FEAR THAT THE QUALITY OF TEACHING WILL DROP," ADDED STUDENT ERIN PRELYPCHAN, SAYING TEACHERS WERE BEING LAID OFF OR SEEING THEIR HOURS AND WAGES CUT BACK. SOME CENTRES ARE EVEN TEAMING UP WITH BEIJING, WEDDING LOCAL TEACHING TECHNOLOGY WITH GROWING DEMAND FOR MAINLAND STUDY.THE LARGEST PRIVATE SCHOOL, TAIPEI LANGUAGE INSTITUTE, OPENED A BRANCH IN BEIJING A YEAR AGO AND WILL ADD ONE IN SHANGHAI SOON. "WE ARE WITNESSING A BIT OF A DRAIN OF STUDENTS IN TAIWAN," SAID SPOKESMAN JACK CHANG. "A LOT OF STUDENTS EVENTUALLY WANT TO WORK IN MAINLAND CHINA — SO WE CATER TO THEIR NEEDS."

25/09/98




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