No English, No Chances

Google chose their APAC headquarters to be based in Singapore rather than in Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia. Why do you think that is?

To be successful on the global stage, you must have a great command of English. If you don’t, you can forget about it. In that, Singapore outperforms the rest of Asia.

If you’ve ever studied a foreign language, then you probably already know the challenges and frustration that come with it.

So, what does it take to get your message across in a different tongue? Why do some countries do so well while others don’t?

In reference to English as a second language, today I learned that Taiwan, my birth country, ranked poorly (scored “low”) on the English Proficiency Index (EPI) 2018 released by English First (EF). Standing uncomfortably at the 48th place worldwide out of 89 non-English-speaking countries, this disappointing result was Taiwan’s worst over the last 8 years, dropped from the 40th place in 2017, the 2nd worst record in history.

With the next index due to be released on 05 November 2019, I’m very keen to find out how much worse it can get!

So, what needs to be done to increase the level of literacy and overall linguistic skills in English for Taiwan? Not that there’s a lack of focus or support from Taiwanese authorities, schools and parents. In fact, there’s plenty. But relying solely on an existing curriculum or external support network will not help students go far enough, because they have their own limitations, and this is true for any countries.

From a personal experience, it was the extra time and effort invested outside the school hours that helped me make a difference. Back in the day, I used to listen to the English broadcast on the radio to improve my listening and speaking skills. I also hired personal tutors (who were native English speakers) and went to private English classes in the evening.

I remember how I usually sat in a front row of the classroom acting like a top student. I just grabbed any opportunities I could to practice my English and ask a lot of questions.

Having a bit thick skin allowed me to keep my fears under control. Some common fears such as fear of being laughed at, fear of being called a show-off and fear of making mistakes weren’t simply in my vocabulary! To this day, I’m still the same person who loves learning new words and phrases.

With the convenience of internet everywhere, there’s really no shortage of external learning resources. So, to thrive, it all boils down to “inside job”. What? Inside job? Don’t freak out. By that I mean working on it internally to acquire language skills or any skills for that matter.

Lastly, confidence doesn’t come from self-talk, it comes from self-practice. It may not be as easy as ABC in the beginning but with practice, practice and practice, the results will soon speak for themselves…

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