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Taiwan parents want English as official 2nd language

Up to 80 percent of Taiwan parents hoped the government would declare English the second official language of Taiwan, according to findings of a survey released yesterday.

The survey was conducted by King Car Education Foundation in December 2005 on 2,059 parents around Taiwan. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

The survey showed that 90 percent of the parents lack confidence in their English ability.

Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of Taiwan parents send their children to cram schools to learn English, with 70 percent hoping their children will develop an interest in English at the cram schools.

Officials at the foundation noted that the TOEFL scores of Taiwan students have for several consecutive years occupied the bottom places among Asian students, and that the TOEIC scores of the Taiwan people ranked ninth from the bottom around the world, which they said shows that the English ability of the Taiwan people is still insufficient despite the English-learning fever in the country.

Although most parents do not expect cram schools to significantly boost their children's English ability significantly, they hope their children will have stronger English ability after attending the cram schools.

While English is now being taught starting in the third year of elementary school in Taiwan, the survey showed that 40 percent of elementary students started to learn English at pre- school age.

On the advantages of allowing children to start learning English early, 97 percent of the parents said better English ability will promise better job opportunities, and 85 percent said enhancing the English ability of the Taiwan people will help upgrade the country's competitiveness.

While 60 percent of the respondents recognized the government's efforts to promote English education, they gave Taiwan's English education a failing grade — 57.5 on a 100-point scale.

Also, 70 percent of the parents believed the government's education policy has the greatest influence on the younger generation.

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