Taiwan's President Tsai responds to insulting English test question

Tsai cleverly responded to the issue by making it a teachable moment about freedom of speech in Taiwan

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(Image shared to President Tsai's FB page)

(Image shared to President Tsai's FB page)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In response to an English test question at a Chiayi high school that drew national attention over the weekend, President Tsai responded with clever and educational comment on social media.

The test question, which drew attention because of its insult to President Tsai read,“President Tsai-englishit made some silly ____in her speech,”with possible answers of “(A) amateurs (B) disasters (C) parades (D) comments.”


The original test question (Screen grab from Apple Daily)

In a very collected and intelligent response to the Chiayi teacher’s disparaging test question, the President chose to emphasize the educational aspect of the news story, by providing two pointed examples of the word “comment” in proper usage.

Tsai’s two examples, shared to social media were as follows.

In its usage as a noun, she offered, “President Tsai Ing-wen rejects Beijing leader’s unfriendly comments.”

In its usage as a verb, the President shared, “As there is no censorship in Taiwan, Brother Caramel can freely comment on public affairs.”

The sentence mentioning “Brother Caramel” is a reference to an instance in which a Taiwanese media personality wrote a preface for a book which was to be published in China in 2018. However, because “Brother Caramel” is Taiwanese and deemed to support Taiwanese independence, the book's publication was stalled.

The episode serves as an example of Beijing’s extremely censorious nature, and the example can be compared with the freedom of speech in Taiwan, and marks a stark contrast with the flippant and disrespectful test sentence written by the high school teacher in Chiayi, which is protected under Taiwan’s constitution.

Her Facebook post included a hashtag with “freedom of speech” highlighting Taiwan’s open and democratic civil society. The President also included a hashtag with a pun of her own name which might be read as “Study English with Ing-wen” (跟英文一起學英文).