Why English education in public schools is useless | Irene Lin – Grade 12

students in class studying English education is increasingly important, but Taiwan's public schools fall short when it comes to teaching the language.
  • Many students are incapable of having an actual English conversation
  • Lessons are designed for tests rather than practical usage
  • More time needs to be spent reading, writing, and speaking

English is one of the major subjects that students in Taiwan often go to cram schools for. While public schools do have English classes, they’ve failed. Despite the growing anxiety of Taiwan becoming less competitive against other countries, there seems to be no political will to solve the crisis.

Many students, who are able to get high grades on tests, are incapable of having an actual English conversation nor write an essay on their own. Lessons are designed for students to be able to answer grammar questions and fill vocabulary into sentences rather than practical usage.

Problems with English education

Treating English like a math problem is the major flaw in Taiwan’s English education. Students are taught to look at a sentence by breaking them down into pieces based on parts of speech. Overemphasizing grammar and neglecting content causes students to misuse vocabulary and leads to a lack of ability to comprehend meaning.

Unlike math, which is filled with equations for people to solve, English is a tool for people to communicate and learn information. Being able to state an opinion and have an actual conversation should be the goal of our English education.

Looking at private English schools’ teaching styles, they try to provide an English speaking environment; this is what transforms students into fluent English speakers. With English being our second language, English learners already lack the opportunity to be in an English-speaking environment. Moreover, students don’t get many opportunities to practice speaking during classes, except for reading short paragraph dialogues.

With lessons lacking in “practical use”, it’s little wonder why the speaking incapability crisis has only worsened.

How to improve English education in Taiwan

The amount of reading, writing, and speaking needs to increase to solve the problem. However, we not only need to increase the amount but also its difficulty. Students learn more vocabulary through a novel compared to a five paragraph text; learning to write an essay provides the opportunity to learn critical thinking, an ability that Taiwanese education has never taught.

Very little will ever be learned if students are told to just sit and listen, the traditional teaching method doesn’t benefit students in the long run, regardless of how much time they’ve spent in English classes. Simply look at those of us who have been in a Chinese speaking environment since we were kids; few of us would describe ourselves as eloquent.

Therefore, with its undeniable importance and the need for actual practices, Taiwan needs to change its’ English teaching method and give students the skills to interact with foreigners alone and therefore compete with other nations.

About Taipei Teen Tribune (104 Articles)
Taipei Teen Tribune is a free-to-read online news and interest blog written by some especially talented teenagers from Taiwan. We like to talk about life as students, important issues that affect people in Taiwan including politics, daily life, and even more fun issues like restaurant and movie reviews. Our site is great for teens and adults alike, anyone wanting to practice English, and for locals interested in fresh perspectives. Like our page on Facebook, sign up for our newsletter or visit our blog for our latest write-ups on what's happening in Taiwan.

3 Comments on Why English education in public schools is useless | Irene Lin – Grade 12

  1. Your’e right about that. As much as many in Taiwan think the language is important, English has been taught at our schools in the wrong way — more grades orientend less practicality focused. Stduents’ speaking and writing ability will shock the disbelievers. Most of these students leave schools, enter the worlkforce, and hit with the reality that they can’t speak nor write proper English. I’m a priivate business English practitioner and I know that for a fact. What’s the point of acquiring grammar knowlege if you can’t apply it to practical English usage, just like you know all the traffic rules but can’t dirve nor ride?

  2. When you are writing a semi-professional article (or practicing/learning to do so), please make sure that you avoid using contractions.

    I think mastering English grammar/semantics/syntax is extremely important in one’s conquest of English. If you cannot write a persuasive sentence, your content gets lost among the words. How you deliver the content determines how the content will he received.

    The site should also have an editor who reviews and edits the articles for grammar and other linguistic issues.

    • Taipei Teen Tribune // November 26, 2018 at 9:40 am // Reply

      Hi William,
      Thanks for the feedback. We don’t mind contractions in our articles as they are informal and “bloggy” as it were. For formal academic writing, we agree 100%, but this is a site meant to generate informal discussion more than anything else, so we like to loosen our proverbial ties. And rest assured, we have a few editors to handle grammar and linguistic issues, but because we prefer our pieces to be entirely student written, we don’t mind if a few minor things slip through. We tend to think that perfection can be the enemy of the good, and we want to focus on ideas and discourse first. Thanks for reading!

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