Are foreigners all English teachers?

Taiwanese people have always been world-renowned for their hospitality. This is the point that my Russian husband is most fond of talking about.

A “foreigner” with three-dimensional facial features feels that life in Taiwan is very convenient and safe, but there are only two things that make him feel uncomfortable:

The first is that there are no sidewalks in many places, and pedestrians have no space to walk, so they often have to fight for the road with cars and motorcycles; secondly, they are often asked when walking on the road:

“Hello~ Are you an English teacher? How long have you been in Taiwan? 』

Every time I was asked this way, the other party was very enthusiastic and had a shy smile, as if they were facing a really good English teacher. At first, the husband would answer very seriously in Chinese with a Beijing accent:

“I’m not American, I’m Russian”

Then there was a burst of exclamation: “Wow~ your Mandarin is great! ‘ but the next sentence is

“Come to Taiwan to teach English~”

At this time, the husband smiled and smiled silently, and I was responsible for explaining that he was not an English teacher nor an American.

But for the Russians who settled in Taiwan for their wives and children…

In fact, such a stereotype is not wrong. According to the latest statistics of the Immigration Department in September 2017: there were more than 763,000 foreigners in Taiwan that month, the largest number of foreign migrant workers (the statistics of the Immigration Department are in this section. There are more than 630,000 occupations, followed by 7,461 teachers, 5,511 business people, 3,044 engineers and 1,457 missionaries (the others are non-laborers, such as expatriate families). relatives). The foreigners in Taiwan are Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia in order of number (the above are more than 10,000 people). Followed by Japan, South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and France, which just broke the 1,000-person mark. After looking at the statistics, it dawned on me that such a stereotype seems to have its origins. Aside from the easy-to-distinguish Asian race, the blond and blue-eyed people are indeed mostly Americans.

But back to a more fundamental question: Who are the “foreigners”? If interpreted literally, all people who are not of their own nationality can be called “foreigners”. However, in terms of cultural habits, Taiwanese generally refer to foreigners as “European, American, Japanese and Korean people”. As for the Southeast Asian migrant workers with the largest number, they are regarded by most Taiwanese to a certain degree of economic and cultural superiority. Also classified as “foreign workers”. This is an issue worth thinking about in the future, and we save it for later discussion. Below this article, “foreigners” will be defined by cultural habits for the time being.

Why study English? ?

Because of its geographical location, Taiwan has been a trade hub since ancient times, so English, the international language, has always been the language that everyone is eager to learn. But in addition to this, I think there is a hidden reason, that is, when facing “foreigners”, Taiwanese will become “extraordinarily considerate”. I once saw a video of a Youtuber who pretended to be a Japanese who didn’t understand Chinese and asked for directions on the road. Every group he met, men, women and children, would try very hard to find a way to tell how to get there in English; People, when you see foreigners, they will enthusiastically say one or two words “Hello” and “Good”! However, in Japan, even if you ask for directions in English, nine out of ten the other party will answer in Japanese.


Whether it is cultural consideration or economic needs, in a word, this matter of Taiwanese learning English can be said to be a national movement. Lara himself has embarked on the road of English learning since the age of 5. Luckily, my first English tutor was very nice and often took us to eat “My Steak” after finishing a bunch of vocabulary tests (My Steak was a popular restaurant 30 years ago) so my children Learning English by memory = eating steak, there is no pain of being forced to learn. The only thing that made me unhappy was that the English teacher in the third year of the third year was too biased, and only recognized the scores but not the people, which made me lose confidence in English for a short time, but fortunately, I regained my interest in high school. In this way, my English grades have not been the best, but I have always been studying with the mood I like. For me at the time, learning a foreign language was to be able to speak to “foreigners” in the future, which I thought was a cool thing.

Later, the university entered the Russian Department. In the third year of my junior year, I went to Moscow University as an exchange student. I was surprised to find that these “foreigners” did not speak English. The English I had studied for more than 10 years was useless here. Wen has made great progress… After returning to Taiwan, he graduated from senior year and entered the workplace. The company is exporting industrial computers. At this time, he felt the importance of English, and silently felt that his commercial English was insufficient. The first month of work I bought several business English books and used them as dictionaries to consult them at any time. Until now, because of the relationship between children, the common language with other parents is English, which has become the language used every day. In this way of studying in English, I don’t have a certificate, but English is already a part of life for me.


Learning and learning, what have we learned?

I believe that many people, like Lara, started learning English since childhood, or felt that they did not learn well in those days, and now put all their hopes on their children. It’s just a pity that the learning of many things is distorted under the current education system. I once had a student who made up his English for a year or two. He was very keen on memorizing English words and often asked me to play English word competitions with him. Once I invited a German friend to do cultural exchange, hoping that the children would have the opportunity to practice practically. As a result, this child who usually has a large number of words can’t say a word.

This is a very common situation in Taiwan. Children are required to memorize a lot of words in the process of learning English, but they forget

The most important original purpose of learning a language is: communication and communication


If you learn English well, will you have an international outlook?

An astonishing statistic: Taiwan has a population of 23 million, and the number of overseas tourists in 2017 has reached 17 million, that is, more than 70% of Taiwanese have traveled abroad! According to this logic, most Taiwanese should have an international outlook. After all, there are so many people going abroad! However, it is not! Many people travel abroad may be a fixed-point sightseeing in a certain city, or a food tour, or even a travel agency packaged to get out of the car to urinate and get on the car to sleep. Simply doing this is no different from sightseeing in Taiwan. At best, it is the difference between taking an extra flight and arriving at one scenic spot to check in.

So the number of going abroad has nothing to do with the international outlook.

Kenichi Ohmae, a world-class management scientist, gave a brief and concise definition of “international outlook” –

“Knowing what’s going on in the world and having the ability to make an opinion about those things”.

It can be seen that there is no direct relationship between “international outlook” and English ability. If a person has passed the English Examination, but has no interest and indifference to the major events in the world, it can only be said that his English ability is good at best. People with good English skills do have an advantage in cultivating an “international outlook”, because they can obtain information from other international platforms and are less likely to be manipulated and restricted by Taiwanese media or interested people.

I once did an experiment in the classroom, the same news, the headlines under the Taiwan media are usually from the angle of gossip

Foreign media, on the other hand, write objective descriptions of facts.


International outlook is a quality. It requires us to be curious about the world, understand its culture, and then be able to make objective analysis and generate self-argument. Having the ability to speak a foreign language (English or any other language) is one more window to understand the world, giving us the opportunity to open the window and see the world from a different perspective. But the premise is to have the “willingness to open the window”, that is, the curiosity about the world and the desire to know all things. With this foundation (cognitive desire), coupled with different sources of information (foreign language ability), and the ability to think independently (logical reasoning), this is the ability to have an international outlook!

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