The UK is doing its part to boost English

As the British representative in Taiwan, I am struck by how much Taiwan and the UK have in common.

Although our vibrant democracies are nearly 10,000 km apart, we are closely aligned in many areas that will define the future.

Common UK and Taiwan priorities include driving innovation and cultivating the next generation of technologies, tackling climate change and ensuring our citizens can thrive in a competitive global marketplace.

In the UK and Taiwan you will hear a wonderful array of languages, dialects and accents. Languages ​​are the fabric of our two sets of islands, weaving together cultures, backgrounds and experiences.

The UK supports Taiwan’s ambitions to use the English language as the lingua franca at home and abroad. As Taiwan prepares to become bilingual in Mandarin and English by 2030, I believe passionately that the UK is a natural partner to help every step of the way.

Every April 23, we celebrate English Language Day.

We might think that the UK is the home of the English language, but we are happy to know that it was never ours. It is a shared global communication language used by billions of people around the world.

The history of the English language began in the fifth century, when Germanic tribes invaded Britain and brought their languages ​​with them.

In 1066, William I of France became king and French became the language of civil servants. Today, it is estimated that 45% of all English words have a French origin.

By William Shakespeare’s time, modern English had developed, the printing press had been invented, and people had to agree on “correct” spelling and vocabulary.

Today, English is increasingly used as a lingua franca, a way for two speakers of different native languages ​​to communicate with each other. For many people, the need to communicate is far more important than the need to speak like a native speaker.

Much has been said about how the English language will continue to open doors throughout this century. Efforts to create an inclusive bilingual environment will help improve Taiwan’s competitiveness, forge business relationships, strengthen its protective alliances, and create high-quality jobs.

So yes, there are practical economic benefits, but there is so much more than that. Even as a native speaker, I am still learning new things about the merits, beauty and brilliance of the English language. It is a versatile and wonderfully imaginative tool. It is at the heart of many of the world’s greatest achievements in movies and songs, in books and plays, and in technology and ideas.

English evolves over time, adapting to the daily needs of its speakers. He absorbs new ideas and never stops.

April 23 was chosen for English Language Day as it is believed to be Shakespeare’s birthday, and he alone is credited with inventing over 1,700 words and phrases that are still in use today. . For example, the words “gossip”, “fashionable”, and “solitary” were all first used by Shakespeare.

And more are being added all the time. An update to the Oxford English Dictionary in December last year recognized another 700 since the previous edition.

Language is a democratic and unlimited thing that we can all possess throughout our lives. It allows for great personal expression, providing options for conveying thoughts and feelings in multiple different ways.

However, as I know from my own experience, fluency in foreign languages ​​can be difficult. It’s often frustrating and the road to fluency can be long and winding. So how can the UK help Taiwan chart its course?

The UK brings decades of industry expertise in English language training, education technology, publishing and assessment.

The British Office and the British Council work closely with the Department of Education, National Development Council and Examination Yuan to cultivate English proficiency. We also encourage partnerships between the education sectors in Taiwan and the UK.

We recognize that there is no “off the shelf” solution. Skills development must always be adapted to local contexts for a transformative approach to the whole of society.

Experience around the world has taught us that successful education reforms cannot be achieved in isolation. Reforms to English curriculum, teaching and assessment need to be developed holistically. This is the most effective way to create a bilingual learning environment that will meet the needs of people from all parts of Taiwan.

Improvements in language learning must be guided by a comprehensive analysis of the needs and aspirations of stakeholders: students, parents, teachers and policy makers.

Teachers will always be the main success factor in language learning. Research suggests that money spent on training local teachers is likely to be a much better investment than recruiting native English speakers.

Innovative thinking is needed on how best to support the continuous professional development of teachers; how to strengthen English fluency and improve teaching skills for lifelong learning.

To this end, over the past 12 months we have run a series of seminars to share the experience of some of the UK’s leading experts in the field of teaching and learning English and teaching in English. We hope that their experience can lead to even better teaching and learning outcomes in Taiwan.

To ensure that their advice reaches as wide an audience as possible, we have made recordings of all their presentations, which are available online.

Please visit the British Council Taiwan official website and search for “UK Experience and Expertise in Support of Taiwan’s Bilingual Policy”.

Bilingual 2030 opportunities are rapidly heading our way, and the UK is ready to work in partnership with Taiwan as it enters the next chapter of this story.

John Dennis is a representative in the UK office in Taipei.

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