Report: Taiwan should be cautious about making English a 2nd official language

Since English is not the native language of Taiwanese people, the difficulty level of promoting English as an official language should be carefully assessed

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(photo from Pixabay)

(photo from Pixabay)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—Taiwan’s Legislative Research Bureau, which is an agency under Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, suggested in a report that Taiwan should be cautious about making English the second official language of Taiwan, saying that all countries where English is an official language have a historical background of being once a colony of an English speaking country.

In an interview with Economic Daily News in August, Taiwan Premier William Lai (賴清德) said that next year the government will implement a new "bilingual country" policy in which Mandarin and English will both be used in an official capacity in Taiwan to strengthen its international competitiveness.

However, the Legislative Research Bureau report says Taiwan should have specific legislation to deal with the issue of making English Taiwan’ s second official language. By doing so, English may be prioritized over other ethnic languages. This would not conform to the purpose of the National Languages Development Act draft bill, which is being reviewed in the Legislative Yuan, the report says, urging authorities to think the policy over.

The report also points out that all of the countries in the world whose official language is English have a history of being colonized by the U.K. or the U.S.A. and that English has existed in their societies as a basic communication tool for a certain period of time. Since English is not the native language of Taiwanese people, the difficulty level of promoting English as an official language should be carefully assessed.     

The report says that early Mandarin-English bilingual education is indeed necessary to strengthen Taiwan's international competitiveness, but people should not equate strengthening English education with making English an official language because they are not the same issue.

If the purpose of making English the second official language is to connect with the international community, then Mandarin-English dual language education instead of dual official languages should become the country’s policy, the report suggests.