For a Multilingual Taiwan

twitter threads, language policy, Taiwan

Bilingual” in Taiwan means English + Mandarin. Putting aside the way this sidelines Taiwan’s other languages, I’d like to question the emphasis on English. In today’s world, does it make sense to prioritize English over other foreign languages?

(Link to Twitter thread)

I’d argue that many Taiwanese would be better served by learning Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, or Tagalog. These are important regional languages that are also widely used in Taiwan. (And there is the added advantage that two of them are Austronesian languages.)

I also think English mastery is less important for your average Taiwanese today than it was in the past. Gone are the days when you need to go to an English speaking country to get a good education if you didn’t test into NTU.

More and more information is now available in Chinese translation, and when it isn’t, Google Translate can give you a perfectly adequate translation at least 80% of the time. Yes, there are a number of professions where English is still essential… but I don’t think every Taiwanese needs to be bilingual in English. Many would be better served by learning other languages instead.

Why not a multilingual Taiwan”!? After all, it already is.