On Tuesday the KMT’s presidential candidate, Ma Ying-jeou (Mǎ Yīngjiǔ / 馬英九), made a campaign promise to establish a national “English village” to promote English education. This would be part of strengthening “practical English teaching” in Taiwan, Ma said, according to the Taipei Times report.
Scott Sommers has already written about the prospect of English villages in Taiwan and about the Korean model that Ma wants to copy. Johan has touched on this, too. So I’ll leave further discussion of Ma’s at best naive position on English villages in their capable hands.
But the article had some other points I’d like to address.
When approached by reporters later, Ma said he believed fifth grade is the best time for elementary schoolchildren to study English.
This is very strange. In 2002, when Ma was mayor of Taipei, the city moved the start of the teaching of English in Taipei from third grade to first grade. The move from fifth grade to third grade was made just a few years before; this might also have been under Ma, though perhaps it was late in the Chen administration.
At any rate, under Ma Taipei moved to teaching English quite early, something that has prompted the KMT-led Taipei County Government to follow suit, with English classes in Taipei County now beginning in first grade rather than third grade.
So is Ma saying he was wrong before?
He said he was opposed to having kindergarten children spend the whole day learning English because they should master Mandarin before they learn any second language. Ma also said it was unnecessary and unfeasible to make English an official language.
Just something for the record.
source: Ma promises to set up a national ‘English village’, Taipei Times, December 12, 2007