High school English test draws attention for insult to Taiwan's President Tsai

A student at National Chiayi Senior High School sent photos of the test with a complaint to Apple Daily news

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(Screen grab from Apple Daily news)

(Screen grab from Apple Daily news)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – National Chiayi Senior High School (國立嘉義高中) has drawn national attention this week for a peculiar question on an English test, which led students to criticize their teacher for seemingly bringing political bias into the classroom.

On an English test for second year students, taken on Feb. 15, a teacher, surnamed Chang (張) included the multiple choice question “President Tsai-englishit made some silly ____in her speech.” The possible answers provided were “(A) amateurs (B) disasters (C) parades (D) comments.”

One anonymous student reportedly sent photographs of the exam to Apple Daily, complaining about the insulting statement towards the President.

President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) given name is the same as the word for the English language (英文) in Mandarin, and she is sometimes jokingly referred to as “Tsai English” by some people.

The teacher’s intentional addition of an “-it” to the nick name drew the attention from the high school students for obvious reasons.

An Apple Daily reporter asked the teacher about the question, and he claimed that he has no political position himself, but that he simply used the President’s name to pique student interest for the purpose of improving their English.

He even referenced U.S. President Trump in defense of his test question saying, “It’s just like Trump, who is also often saying stupid things.”

As for the inclusion of an English expletive in the President’s name, the teacher suggested that since it was only a refresher exam following the recent break, that it was alright for some jokes and sarcasm to be included in the text of the exam.

Ultimately, the teacher did admit that he was sorry if his test question had made students uncomfortable.

An administrator at the high school said that the teacher, who is in his 50s and has taught English for over 20 years, is well respected at the school. The administration defends his right to design his tests as he sees fit, even if this particular exam has drawn unwanted attention.

In the future, the administrator said that they hope students will file such complaints through proper channels, so that the school can better address issues like this.