Teaching other classes in English not very practical
The China Post

Some of Taiwan's universities plan to have all or some of their non-English classes conducted in English. A few of the universities have already started to experiment with this idea. In these classes, both teacher and students are supposed speak English as their chief means of communication although the subject taught is not English but a field such as math, physics or economics.

We once gave our approval to this concept and believed it could help lift the general level of English proficiency among the island's university students and graduates.

Now we are skeptical. We believe that it is not a priority where the promotion of English is concerned.

The main reason is that the university students' English skills have been declining steadily in recent years. The number of university students who are proficient in English has dropped in the past decade despite efforts by university authorities to improve students' fluency in English.

The majority of university teachers here, regardless of their areas of expertise, are fairly fluent in English because they have degrees from institutions in English- speaking countries. Some may speak the language with a thick accent, but most of them have little trouble getting their ideas across.

The main problem with the all-English idea is the fact that students' ability to understand English leaves a lot to be desired.

Unless the level of the students' English proficiency improves considerably, the lectures the professors offer in English will be mostly incomprehensible to their listeners.

We hope university authorities will use other, more effective strategies to help their students upgrade their English skills, especially their speaking and listening skills. Instituting more English conversation classes, for example, would be a step in this direction. Requiring students to pass tests such as the TOEFL before they are allowed to graduate would be another.