Language Socialization in Taiwan

The current essay deals with the problem of language socialization in the context of English education in Taiwan. The issues which are connected with bilingual education in Taiwan, institutional and educational difficulties tied with teaching language, and future perspectives for those proficient in English will be analyzed both from a theoretical and practical standpoint.

First of all, it would be coherent to propose the theoretical background and definition of language socialization. There is no denying the importance of the fact that language socialization may be defined as the function of new language and new ways of thinking, social adaptation, and behavior that ensues in the overall social evolution of the individual. These social frames of language socialization are called by Ochs ‘sociocultural defined contexts’ (1986, 2).

Language socialization may be also defined as socialization to the use of language and socialization through language by means of which children acquire the knowledge of specific culture, social traditions, relations, and society and social order. Among the most important aspects of language, socialization is communication which helps people form mental and relational patterns which accompany them throughout their entire life. According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, different languages presuppose the formation of different mental, comprehension, and mindset patterns in their bearers. In the context of learning English in Taiwan, this hypothesis may be added by our own assumption that English as international lingua franca and the language of commerce, business, and marketing has a certain consequence on the socialization of Taiwanese children who learn it (Whorf, 1956). From these viewpoints, the analysis of English-language socialization in Taiwan will be made.

The role of English in language socialization in Taiwan

English has been the most common language in the world. It is the official international language among all the countries. Recently, learning English has become very important in Taiwan. Most of the schools teach English now; however, it is disappointing that the children do not get to learn English until high school. This means that English is still like a foreign language / second language to the children. A lot of kids have very bad grammar; therefore, schools actually emphasize reading and writing in English hoping the students can achieve higher grades that could lead to furthering of education to higher levels. (Antonio, 2001). These examples show that there exist considerable problems with English socialization in Taiwan. The insufficient teaching in grammar and reading results in a low level of English knowledge which can be appropriate only for realizing minor and secondary functions in the global division of labor. Poor knowledge of English which is institutionalized in Taiwanese education prevents children from understanding and consuming real advantages and paramount of English-speaking culture as they are represented in English and American literature and make them speechless bearers of the limited corporate culture with the standard set of terminology and communicational clichés. Hence, we should point to the fact that proper language socialization in Taiwan is dependent on the development of good English courses in elementary and high schools which are centered not only on the provision of the needs of the labor market but comprehensive development of language culture.

With the lack of an incorporated curriculum of writing and reading, the failure in English has been high in Taiwan. Thus the main focus for students in Taiwan is to ensure that they get the right grammar base in English during high school, which will help them to pursue higher education. Most parents in Taiwan consider the methods of teaching language which exist in their country as being inappropriate for the necessary level of knowledge.

In that, the students do not have the skills that will help them to have success in learning English. In other words, the students are not well taught. They cannot read and write in English, and this has been a barrier to entry in most of the important businesses in the world. The solution that the parents came up with is that they want their children to have a strong base in English. What the parents have done is to have their kids take additional English classes besides the programs that are provided by the school. What I mean is that most of the school does not teach enough, and this has been due to the fact that the teachers have limited time to teach each subject. They have no extra for teaching students to write, read and speak English. The problem of poor performance for the students in English has led to the introduction of English foreign language programs in the country. But this program has been experiencing many problems which include: lack of a well-set curriculum for English activities, most of the students are not being able to memorize and recite the vocabulary of English, the main emphasis is not on English but is on drills, the environment that is provided in the schools is not best for English speaking and the children are not used to speaking of English because of a special language relationship that was established. These problems are therefore very complex and a project has been carried out so that it can address these problems. (Antonio, 2001).

Most of these projects are the focus on understanding theories that are relevant to bilingual education this will mean that with these theories then they will have a view of how to integrate the language that will be best for students to use and this will lead to language development. The project will be able to offer a bilingual curriculum that will be based on language development theories. This will mean that these theories are very important as the teachers will be able to know how to convince the students to have changes made to their language. The experiments that will be carried out will be mainly based on a bilingual curriculum in that the language that will be developed will match what they are supposed to get for their performance in English to be changed. Taiwan parents have been involved so that they can have the best language for their children this shows that socialization is very important in school if the children have to pass and have high standards that are best for higher education. The experiments that are carried out will mean that they are ready to provide an archive monolingual English environment that will lead to changes made in the English curriculum. The most important thing that has to be done will be to have a complex curriculum based on children’s daily experiences meaning that this will promote effective use of language. What this means is that with a curriculum that is stressing on English then it is obvious that students are in a position to know the importance of English use in speaking and writing and this will change their idea of not being able to speak English to their teachers who are Chinese. In grouping time for foreign teachers, it should include English vocabulary and sentence structures in the classroom. This will mean that if these foreign teachers use English then the students will be able to take a step so that they can have changes made in their English language. (Charles, 1999).

In other words, it is important and should be put as a rule in Taiwan that all teachers use English vocabulary so that the students can see the need to use English in whatever they do in class and out of class. Many students will be able to become familiar with English vocabulary and sentence structures through teachers’ repetition. In other words, students are ready to repeat what the teachers say and it is from this repetition that they will be able to memorize and recite English vocabulary as required. Interaction of teachers and students is very important this is due to the fact that it is part of ensuring that what is taught to them is understood in other words the teachers should ensure that they have a good relationship with their students so that use of English is enhanced. This is because a student will not be able to accept information from a teacher if they have no relationship and this will mean that they will not pay attention to what they are taught leading to a lack of memorization of their English vocabulary. Generally what I mean is that it is very important to have a relationship between teachers and students so that they can be free to ask questions about things that are not understood. This will indicate that students who are close to their teachers are able to understand what they are taught and still repeat what their teachers’ do thus the teachers are their role models in learning. There is a need for a free and open environment in that the students and teachers should be free with each other meaning that if a student has pressure to learn then the learning rate will be affected leading to more harm to such a student because learning and understanding will be a burden to them. English has been one of the important means in communication media should be well understood by students so that they are not left out by others who are not in a position to understand what they are saying. This will mean that English been a tool that is different from the current language used at home and community should be taken with a lot of concern by teachers, students, and parents. The experiment done on bilingual curriculum would help create an environment in which students will be happy in that they will know the importance of English use and still they will be motivated because to be a curriculum in the school then it is highly stressed. This will mean that it is very important to motivate students to learn English through speaking and memorization of vocabularies that will lead to change in the language of Chinese children. (Eddy, 1999).

English use for these children will lead to efficient communication and it will be possible for such students to express themselves. This will be because with this language then the students are able to interact with others who are not from their country and this will lead to high communication efficiency. What I mean is that most of the students who have accepted English to be part of their language have been able to move from their country to other countries and still fit in these countries simply because communication to them is not hard in expressing ideas and having their views communicated. Communication and interaction between students and teachers are very important to the progress of student cognitive and social learning. Cognitive means the act of knowing or knowledge in that a student will be able to know new ideas that he or she did not know meaning that their knowledge will be on things that are taking place in the world around them. The cognition will lead students to have the zeal of interacting with others so that they learn from them. In another word what I mean is that with new changes in the world like technology then they will be able to know what is required of them and this will improve the way things are viewed. Social learning is where a student is in a position to know what is taking place around them this is learned through interacting with others who know and have been able to communicate freely. Therefore in social learning interaction is very important for those who are ready to learn to communicate without barriers. Generally what I mean in the bilingual curriculum to be fixed in Taiwan is because the children have to be enlightened on how to live with others who are not from their race so that they can do away with conflict and not see others as enemies. Therefore it is the task of teachers and parents to ensure that English which is a dominating language worldwide is taught with much emphasis on speaking and writing. (Baker, 1997).

This will give these students morale to get information from others that will change their culture and wellbeing in their country and out of the country. It is therefore the responsibility of language teaching academics to have effective methods for teaching the English language most of the things that have to be done will be to have changes made on teacher’s qualifications and application of complex teaching techniques. Therefore qualified teachers will give standard education to students as they know how to ensure each student has understood and will be in a position to deal with slow learners. The teaching techniques that can be acquired will be like making sure that every time new vocabularies are taught in every lesson this will create a desire to these children who will be able to memorize new vocabulary every day. With new English vocabulary then it will mean that such a student will not forget as they have to do it in a repeated way which will involve reciting. Other techniques that can be used will be the improvement of Taiwan education in other words getting back to the basic meaning that with the cultural and socio linguistic background then one will know where to start and end. The students should be taught in such a way that they will not be affected culturally but have the willingness to learn English. Fluent speaking and writing English will benefit students as they interact with others this has an indication that for this to be effective teachers should have interaction with their students so that they know how to correct these students when they have done something wrong. What this bilingual education system has an emphasis on is to have interaction which will be through this socialization that students will learn many new things from their foreign teachers. (Baker, 1997).

English has been an important language that has been used worldwide. How to teach English should be the main focus of Taiwan’s education system. Right now, Taiwanese students are still having a hard time communicating with others and expressing themselves. Therefore it is hard for a Taiwanese child to communicate with people from another country. Taiwanese government needs to adopt a more efficient teaching program so that the Taiwanese kids can speak better English. English socialization in Taiwan can be achieved if the language teaching methodology and curriculum centers on the recipients of knowledge. This presupposes delinking from understanding English as a mere tool for achieving successful promotion in transnational corporations.


Antonio, K. (2001). “International language use. Globalism and western Canadian trends”. Canadian ethnic studies, 32, pp, 150-170.

Baker, C. (1997). Bilingual education. Sydney: multilingual matters, 151.

Charles, D. (1999). Language in Taiwan. Cambridge, University of Cambridge press.

Eddy, M. (1999). “Language policy”. TESOL journal 8, pp, 20-30.

Ochs, E. (1986). “Introduction”. In B. B. Schieffelin & E. Ochs (Eds.), Language socialization across cultures (pp. 1-13). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Whorf, Benjamin (John Carroll, Editor) (1956). Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. MIT Press.

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