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English vocabulary requirement in Taiwan high schools reduced by 2,500 words

Required number of English words Taiwanese high school students must memorize will be reduced from 7,000 to 4,500

Taiwanese students napping.

Taiwanese students napping. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan's Ministry of Education announced on Sunday (Jan. 21) that it would reduce the number of English words high school graduates are required to learn by 2,500 in an effort to improve listening and speaking abilities, reported Liberty Times.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Education's Curriculum Evaluation Committee decided to reduce the number of words high school students are required to master before graduation from 7,000 to 4,500. The committee made the change to move away from mere rote memorization of words and instead focus more on developing practical listening, speaking and writing skills.

The reduction in word count was part of a series of amendments made to the curriculum guidelines for the 12-year national education system by the committee that day. At the meeting K-12 Education Administration Director-General Chiu Chien-kuo (邱乾國) said that committee members said that language is a tool for communication and therefore more emphasis should placed on listening comprehension and speaking instead of reading and writing, and taking into consideration different learning styles, bimodal grade distribution, and other factors, it was decided that the overall number of words taught should be trimmed down.

The required number of English vocabulary words High School Students must demonstrate mastery of by graduation has been reduced from 7,000 to 4,500, while the number of words students in comprehensive and technical schools are required to know will be reduced from 4,500 to 3,500.

Chiu reiterated that the number of vocabulary words is taken into consideration when selecting text books, with the hope that students can at least master the words presented in them and augment the 2,000 words learned in middle school and elementary school, but the compilation of teaching materials is more than just words. Qiu said that in the future there will be a deeper and broader curriculum, but they hope that the overall number of words introduced is reduced to avoid spending so much time on memorization, and instead allow more time for speaking and listening and reading comprehension.