AIT Kaohsiung chief lauds benefits of learning TaiwaneseEven among polyglot foreign diplomats, Matthew O'Connor, chief of the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT) Kaohsiung branch office, may be one of the few able to greet an interviewer in fluent Taiwanese.A 47-year-old Maryland native and alumnus of Georgetown University's Graduate School of Foreign Service, O'Connor has spent a total of eight years in Taiwan since arriving in 1994 to study Chinese at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU).In addition to his two years at NTNU, O'Connor worked in the Economic Section of AIT Taipei from 2006 to 2010, and assumed his current position in Kaohsiung in August 2017.During a recent interview with CNA, O'Connor described the changes he has witnessed in Taiwan over the past quarter century, which he said included impressive strides in everything from public transport to air quality.However, he said, his tenure in Kaohsiung has been special, for having introduced him to a totally new side of Taiwan -- something aided in no small measure by his knowledge of the Taiwanese language, which is widely spoken in the south.O'Connor said he began learning the language back in 2006, simply because "many people's mother tongue is Taiwanese."After learning the basics at the AIT language school on Yangmingshan, O'Connor said he made up for the relative lack of Taiwanese-language learning materials by developing study habits which he has continued up to the present, such as listening to Taiwanese-language news broadcasts, making conversation with taxi drivers and bus passengers, and working with a tutor.More recently, O'Connor has marshaled these skills for AIT's Kaohsiung branch office by releasing Taiwanese-language holiday greetings, including videos for Lunar New Year and American Thanksgiving.Studying Taiwanese, O'Connor said, has allowed him to "overcome the linguistic and cultural gaps" he might otherwise face in his work, and experience the "warmth" and "hospitality" of Kaohsiung residents, which he described as one of the highlights of a two-decade career that has taken him from Australia to Japan and Iraq.Asked about his enthusiasm for southern Taiwan, O'Connor recalled accompanying Taiwanese Major League Baseball star Lin Tzu-wei (林子偉) on a visit to his elementary school in Namasia District, a mountain indigenous district located in rural Kaohsiung."The natural scenery and cultural sites there felt a world away from urban Taiwan, and made a really deep impression on me," he said.As he approaches the end of his term next summer, and with his wife and five children waiting for him in Michigan, O'Connor said there are still several things he would like to do before leaving Taiwan, including visiting Meinong District, a famous center of Hakka culture in Kaohsiung, and climbing Yushan, Taiwan's highest mountain peak.That, and continuing to improve his Taiwanese. So if you see O'Connor on the streets of Kaohsiung, don't be afraid to say "Li ho!" (origin from:CNA)
A great annual event of the Chinese education - ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) has been held on November 22nd to 24th at Washington, DCA great annual event of the Chinese education - ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) has been held on November 22nd to 24th at Washington, DC Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Office of Global Mandarin Education established by the Ministry of Education organized the exhibition space for the Taiwan pavilion. The pavilion was joined by 8 Mandarin educational institutes and units including Steering Committee for the Test Of Proficiency-Huayu, International Chinese Language Program of National Taiwan University, Mandarin Training Center of National Taiwan Normal University, Chinese Language Center of National Cheng Kung University, Chinese Language Center of Tamkang University,Mandarin Learning Center of Chinese Culture University, Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, Tamkang University Chinese Language Center, Center of Chinese Language and Culture Fu Jen Catholic University. We took the learning experience of “Mandarin in Taiwan” to the global spotlight. The exhibition promoted culture in a lively way by arranging Chinese staff who wore traditional Chinese costumes to invite foreigners of non-Chinese origin to learn about the special characteristics in Mandarin. Activities like Happy Hour were introduced to attract more Mandarin educators understanding Taiwanese Mandarin. Application policies were also being explained at the exhibition. Many interactions focused on Taiwanese and American way of Mandarin education, bringing up a lot of intriguing discussions that show the uniqueness of Taiwanese Mandarin. The exhibition arranged many activities such as Taiwan pavilion policy introduction and Q&A with prizes, Chinese calligraphy writing and reading, mini sky lantern origami, and ink-blow painting. These activities offered opportunities for the Mandarin educational institutes to share their experience in Mandarin teaching to visitors, show the excellent courses available in Taiwan for Mandarin education, qualified teachers, resources, etc. These discussions might have triggered related cooperation opportunities. In order to establish a communication and relationship between Taiwanese Mandarin educational institute and overseas educational institute, a business lunch has been joined by the representatives of Chinese Flagship Programs, held by Yuri Chih, Deputy of Education Division, TECRO in the U.S. They established a successful communication between researchers in Mandarin educational organizations of Taiwan and the United States, and improved the knowledge of the global market in understanding the current market and resources available in Taiwanese Mandarin education. Taiwan has joined ACTFL for many years. With the rich experience we have, we found that every year the mainstream schools and language institutes in the United States contact us through this platform to establish a cooperative relationship with Taiwan educational institutes. The theme for 2019 was “Mandarin in Taiwan”. Taiwan representatives took this opportunity to promote the excellence in Taiwanese Mandarin education along with over 8,000 educators, over 800 types of educational courses, over 250 language related product manufacturers. The exhibition was heated up by the lively sales activities that highlighted Taiwan. The reputation of Taiwanese Mandarin education has been improved and expected to further develop, being promoted to the rest of the world and create more cooperative opportunities.
Kiwi student wins Mandarin public speaking contest in TaipeiA language program student from New Zealand on Thursday won the top prize in a Mandarin public speaking contest in Taipei where foreign nationals described their experiences in Taiwan or shared other personal viewpoints in Mandarin Chinese. Samuel Chetwin George, one of the 64 contestants and a Mandarin Chinese language student enrolled in National Taiwan University's International Chinese Language Program, won the first prize with a speech about using humor to resolve an embarrassing situation. George took the audience through a scenario where he resorted to making fun of himself during an embarrassing moment to create laughter and defuse an awkward situation. George, who started learning Mandarin in September last year, told CNA that he was born in Hong Kong and grew up in New Zealand where there is a large Chinese immigrant population. "I'm from New Zealand, and there is a big population of Chinese -- mainland -- Taiwanese, Hong Kong families there, so I have always been really curious (about the language)," he said. "Beyond just the interest of learning a really fascinating language, I think it will be really useful." Moving forward, he will continue his post-graduate studies in East Asian studies at Stanford University in the United States in September 2020 said the 30-year-old, who received NT$10,000 (US$330) in prize money for his win on Thursday. The contest, which is now in its 47th edition, was organized by National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to promote Chinese-language learning and Taiwan's culture, according to Liang Yung-fei (梁永斐), the memorial hall's director-general. The contestants, from 12 countries, combined fluent Mandarin public speaking, lively body language, props, and a sense of humor in their speeches. Some sang and one contestant even waved around Sansing green onions from Yilan to add color to her speech. American medical student Samuel Woodward Noble, who praised Taiwan for its freedom and democracy in his speech, finished second and won NT$8,000 in prize money. The 36-year-old American medical student from Indiana, who is currently in his final semester at Kaohsiung Medical University said he spent most of the past three weeks preparing for his speech. "I have a midterm on Monday, but I have pretty much been spending all my time on this," Noble said. Noble said he began learning Mandarin Chinese in 2002 when he first came to Taiwan as a Mormon missionary, when he stayed in the country for two years. "When I went back after my mission to the U.S., in college I took Chinese classes," he said, adding that he continued to improve his Chinese proficiency when he returned to Taiwan about five years ago, initially studying at National Taiwan Normal University's (NTNU) Mandarin Training Center before moving to Kaohsiung. Nguyen Thi Nga, 21-year-old Vietnamese sophomore university student from NTNU's Department of Chinese as a Second Language, received NT$6,000 for her third-place finish. Meanwhile, Jana Nudelman, 23-year-old American language program student at NTNU's Mandarin Training Center, won NT$4,000 for finishing in fourth place and 12 other contestants received merit awards for their speeches. Li Chen-ching (李振清), a professor at Shih Hsin University in Taipei and one of the judges, called this year's presentations "the most exiting and inspiring" because the jury saw some of the best public speaking at the contest in many years. "We don't often see such excellent display of content, use of words, meaning and intonation," he said. (origin from:CNA)
Norway Conducts the First Chinese Proficiency Test for Students Planning to Study Chinese in TaiwanThe University of Oslo (UiO) Norway has recently conducted the Test of Chinese as Second/Foreign Language (TOCFL) with the Ministry of Education (MOE), of which 19 people have applied to take the test. It was the first Chinese Proficiency test held in Norway; students of the school will also plan to learn Chinese at the National Taiwan University (NTU).The Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages of UiO has hosted on October 21, the TOCFL test, of which 19 people have applied for basic and advanced levels of the test. It is of great significance for Norway to hold the test for the first time, as within the North European nations, only Sweden has ever conduct Chinese proficiency tests in the past.Born in Chiayi and has been teaching at UiO for years, Lin Chieh-Ting said there are not many people learning Chinese in Norway; people could only take Chinese proficiency test held in Bergen. Thus, it is excellent to see a Taiwan developed test for evaluating Chinese language ability is held here in Norway.The Test for Chinese as Second/ Foreign Language (TOCFL) also offers a simplified Chinese version. Still, some of the applicants have chosen to take traditional Chinese version questions. Eivind, a servant of the public agency, is one of them.Eivind is fluent in Chinese and loves Taiwanese culture, who thinks only traditional Chinese characters could demonstrate the aesthetics of the traditional culture. He has taken the TOCFL test first held in Norway to express his support, and also for evaluating and a better understanding of his language ability. Starting from this year, the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages is carrying out several collaborated projects with Taiwan. Besides the agreement signed with the NTU earlier this year, to send students to learn Chinese at NTU, the school also cooperated with the MOE in August, to introduce in Mandarin Chinese Teaching Assistants from Taiwan. Yu Chia-Yu, who has studied a master’s degree at National Taiwan Normal University, has, therefore, become the only Chinese teaching assistant from Taiwan within North European universities.Yu has been an exchange student to Finland and is used to the severe cold weather in northern Europe. She was responsible for oral practice courses and for organizing cultural nights each month, to introduce tea ceremony, calligraphy, traditional handicraft and the culture of Mazu belief, and so on, which were highly appreciated by students.Rune Svarverud, professor of the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at UiO used to be worried for the instructor from Taiwan might not be able to adapt to the UiO, but was surprised to receive positive feedback from students, and was impressed with the excellence presented by Taiwan trained Chinese teaching professionals. As students have shown noticeable improvement in oral and tests, the department will continue to recruit the Chinese teaching assistants from Taiwan next semester. (origin from:CNA)
US-funded language program opens center at NTUThe Chinese Overseas Flagship (COF) in Taiwan center, part of the US government-sponsored Language Flagship program, officially opened yesterday at National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei. The Language Flagship is an undergraduate program that includes instruction in languages such as Arabic, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish under the US’ National Security Education Program (NSEP). The NSEP was established in 1991 under the David L. Boren National Security Education Act that mandated the US secretary of defense to create such a program to provide scholarships for undergraduates, fellowships to graduate students and grants to US institutions to fund the study of countries and languages critical to the US’ national security. The COF in Taiwan center, which was established on June 3 and received its first batch of students last month, is one of two such centers in Asia; the other is at Nanjing University in China. There had been one at Beijing Union University for several years, but the COF headquarters in the US is no longer using it for the capstone portion of the program, in which students who have completed four years of Chinese-language undergraduate courses take classes and intern in professional environments. The Taipei center has 22 US students who have received scholarships of more than US$10,000 a year to study in Taiwan, center director Chao Der-lin (趙德麟) said at the opening ceremony. Chao is a professor and head of the Chinese division at Hunter College in New York City as well as the director of that school’s Chinese Flagship center. Hunter is one of the 12 universities that comprise the domestic Chinese Flagship in partnership with the US Department of Defense, and it has partnered with NTU to run the Taipei facility. Aside from studying language and subjects related to their field of interest at NTU, the students will be able to intern at Taiwanese businesses and organizations, NTU said. In a speech at the opening ceremony, American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen said that Taiwan is a good place to learn Chinese due to its safe environment, hospitable people and diverse culture. Christensen encouraged the students to make the most out of their 10-month stay in Taiwan, saying that what he learned in Taiwan on his first overseas diplomatic assignment has helped his career. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) said that the COF Taiwan Center is a milestone of US-Taiwan educational cooperation that symbolized strong Taiwan-US relations. NTU already has a storied reputation for running intensive Mandarin language-training programs. Stanford University established a Mandarin training center on NTU’s campus in 1961, which two years later became the Inter-University Program (IUP) and over the next three decades set the standard for instruction in modern and classical Chinese. In 1997, the US universities involved in the IUP moved the program to Tsinghua University in Beijing, while NTU assumed full administration for continuing the program on its campus, which it renamed the International Chinese Language Program. Data source：Taipei Times
Arrival of Flagship in Taiwan significant for US-Taiwan relations: William StantonThe U.S. Language Flagship Program Has Come to Taiwan Relations between the United States and Taiwan have clearly never been better, but we tend to measure that progress only in terms of major events like higher-level U.S. visitors or a major arms sale. Meanwhile, quieter but in the long run equally important developments are often taking place which will also do much to strengthen ties between Taiwan and the United States. One that has largely gone unnoticed here in Taiwan is the U.S. decision to establish in Taiwan a Language Flagship program for improving the participating American students’ skills in Chinese. The program opened in early September with the arrival of 22 U.S. highly qualified undergraduate students on the National Taiwan University campus. The Language Flagship is a unique innovation of the National Security Education Program (NSEP) funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. Flagship’s mandate is to develop advanced foreign language skills among young Americans who, according to NSEP, “will take their place among the next generation of global professionals, commanding a superior level of proficiency in one of ten languages critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.” The overall goal is to “educate a citizenry prepared to address the nation’s well-being in the 21st century.” What is Flagship? The Language Flagship program began in 2002 as a small pilot project to encourage U.S. universities to build advanced language learning programs in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Russian. Flagship was initially designed to provide graduate students with professional proficiency in these hard languages. In 2006, Flagship expanded its reach to include undergraduates at all of its Flagship centers in U.S. universities. The Language Flagship program has now grown to include 31 Flagship centers at 21 institutions of higher education in the United States and has added the study of Persian, Portuguese, and Turkish. In the case of Mandarin Chinese, there are currently 12 U.S. universities participating in the program. For each Flagship language, there is one foreign university hosting a “Capstone Year” overseas program where all of the domestic Flagship centers for that language send those exceptional students who qualify. In the case of Chinese, the only Flagship centers abroad have been in the PRC, principally at Nanjing University. (There was previously another center which began in Tianjin in 2013, moved to Beijing in 2017, but was closed earlier this year.) The addition of Taipei means that Chinese is the only language for which two overseas Flagship centers are now available. This is because the Chinese language attracts the most Flagship students, and therefore can use another overseas center. The Flagship program at the university level is unique in several respects. The students selected for this highly competitive program all receive financial support from The Language Flagship. Those who are qualified arrive overseas for their Capstone Year having already studied their chosen foreign language for at least three or four years, while also pursuing a major in another subject of study. Another unique aspect of the Taiwan Center's program is that all of its advisors and language instructors are trained, supervised, and paid by Flagship, rather than the overseas university where they are based. Most important, the students during their stay overseas do not simply study the foreign language, but also enroll in a course related to their major area of study taught in the language they are working to improve. In the first semester Flagship students are also required to undertake a research project in their future professional area of concentration tied to whatever subject class the student is taking. In the second semester students must intern full-time for four months at a business, organization, or non-profit related to their majors, where the foreign language they are using is spoken. At the end of the Capstone Year, the students will have thereby also improved their foreign language proficiency in both academic and professional contexts. Why is the Arrival of Flagship in Taiwan Significant? There was a time when most Americans and nearly everyone else who wanted to learn or improve their Chinese came to Taiwan, including many well-known diplomats, academics, businesspeople, and politicians. It took some time after the establishment of official relations between the United States and China in 1972, the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, the aftermath of the Tiananmen massacre in 1989, and some years of “opening up” and development in China before Americans and others thought about studying Chinese in the PRC. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department never closed and to this day continues to maintain its Foreign Service Institute Chinese-language school in Taiwan, first in Taichung and later in Taipei. Until at least the 1990s therefore, an entire generation of U.S. and other nations’ China hands studied in Taiwan, principally first at the Mandarin Training Center (國語教學中心) established in 1956 at National Taiwan Normal University, or beginning later in 1963, a Mandarin language center established by Stanford University on the campus of National Taiwan University (NTU). It was then known as “The Stanford Center,” or after other U.S. universities helped finance and thereby became partners in the Center, also named the “Inter-University Program.” It was only in January 2006, that what had been formally called since 1997 the International Chinese Language Program, was finally incorporated into NTU as a university institute. In 1997 as well, in an indication of changing times, an offshoot of the Stanford Center was also established at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Over time more and more students have been studying Chinese in the PRC and fewer in Taiwan. This is consistent with the overall proportions of Americans studying all subjects in the two countries. According to the 2018 Open Doors Report of the Institute of International Education, in the 2016-17 academic year, there were 1,002 Americans studying in Taiwan (a 3.3% increase over the previous year), and 11,910 Americans studying in China (a 1.9 % increase over the previous year.) The arrival of Flagship in Taiwan promises to help start reversing this trend, at least in Chinese-language learning. Most important from a political perspective, the introduction of more young Americans to Taiwan can only strengthen relations between our countries. In my experience and that of most foreigners I know who live here, as well as surveys of favorite countries for expatriates in which Taiwan always ranks among the very top choices, to know Taiwan is to love Taiwan. Moreover, many of the bright, talented and Chinese-speaking Flagship students who come here will make personal and other contacts and perhaps find future employment opportunities that bring them back. Given its continuing demographic trends, Taiwan can certainly use smart American professionals who speak Chinese. Many people, like me, had previously wondered why there was no Flagship program in Taiwan, which embodies and exemplifies traditional Chinese culture and values far better than the PRC. It was, however, a Taiwanese-American professor, Dr. Chao Der-lin (趙德麟), Director of Chinese Studies at Hunter College in New York, who took the initiative to bring Flagship to Taiwan, and who now also serves as the Director of the Chinese Flagship at Hunter College and as the administrator of the Flagship Taiwan Center. She told me that as she approached retirement, establishing Flagship in Taiwan was a way of giving something back to her country of birth. Thanks to her unflagging dedication, persistence, and hard work, we now have a Flagship Center in Taiwan. More and More Flagship Students in Taiwan Likely I have met the 22 Flagship students currently in Taiwan and they are indeed impressive. The Taiwan Center expects ten more students to join the program in the spring semester. (This smaller number is understandable because the academic year usually runs from fall to spring.) Some 50 to 60 Flagship students, however, have gone to China every year, and more U.S. Flagships programs are expected to be established in the United States after the ongoing 2020-2024 round of competition for new grants. Each competing program aims to have 60 students and to send 10 or more of its best students each year to Capstone. They are planning to award 8 to14 programs, so the total annual Capstone enrollment would be 80 to 140. Flagship Taiwan Center therefore expects more Chinese-language students will be in the pipeline, and that the numbers here will continue to rise. Professor Chao has been advised to prepare for a program with a capacity for 100 students by the end of the third year. She expects between 40 and 50 students beginning in the Fall of 2020, and by Fall of 2021, the number could rise to between 70 and 80 students. The Nanjing Center has a limited capacity, so as more students enroll in the domestic Chinese Flagship programs, more Capstone students will come to Taiwan. Flagship’s Future in the PRC Could Be Limited Another factor affecting Flagship’s future in Taiwan is the increasing unwillingness of the U.S. Government to fund U.S. universities that support PRC programs like the Confucius Institutes that are seen as United Front efforts to influence U.S. perceptions of China and its policies. Moreover, unlike Confucius Institutes, but consistent with the PRC’s usual lack of reciprocity, U.S. American Centers in China are strictly limited. Section 1091 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 therefore prohibited U.S. Government funding to U.S. universities hosting Confucius Institutes. As a result, a growing number of U.S. universities have closed these centers. Although this U.S. legislation did not affect funding for Flagship Centers in China, it seems to be having a knock-on effect for U.S universities with Flagship programs. In explaining the closing of its Confucius Institute, the University of Oregon explained that the decision was “necessary in order to protect the funding [some US$343,000] for the Chinese Flagship program.” It is therefore possible that in the future Congress could focus attention on Flagship Nanjing. After all, the overseas Flagship program for Russian is notably not located in Russia, but instead at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Kazakhstan. The logic behind that decision could in the future also be applied to U.S. Government funding for studying Chinese in the PRC. Consistent with the overall improvement in U.S.-Taiwan relations, the prospects for the Flagship Taiwan Center are very bright indeed, and Flagship can only contribute to the further strengthening of our relations. National Yang Ming University appointed William A. Stanton as Vice President on August 16, 2019. He previously served from August 2017 to July 2019 as a Professor at the Center for General Education at National Taiwan University. Dr. Stanton earlier worked for four years as the George K.C. Yeh Distinguished Chair Professor and founding director of the Center for Asia Policy at National Tsing Hua University (NTHU). From October 2014 through January 2016, he was also NTHU’s Senior Vice President for Global Affairs. Dr. Stanton previously served for 34 years as a U.S. diplomat. His final posting was as director of the American Institute in Taiwan (2009-2012). Data source：Taiwan News Online