The Tainan City Government is actively promoting its English as the second official language policy and encouraging residents to improve their daily English communication skills by integrating English learning into their everyday lives. This policy has widespread support, and this year (2018) Chun Shin Limited, ETS’ Taiwan representative, began offering the opportunity to take the TOEIC Bridge test for free to 1,500 Tainan residents. The test takers will not only receive study materials for free, but also have the chance to obtain the “I Speak English” English certification emblem for free. Those who meet the score standards will also receive official certificates.
The city government convened a public press conference today (March 20) to share the good news with city residents. It formally announced the launch of the registration for the free “TOEIC Bridge” test, and invited residents interested in assessing their own English communication abilities to register.
In his speech, Tainan City Deputy Mayor Chang Chen-yuan said that ETS’ Taiwan representative Chun Shin Limited’s large-scale sponsorship of the TOEIC Bridge test is “limited to Tainan” and unprecedented in Asia. As the registration fee for the TOEIC Bridge test is NT$1,100 and 1,500 Tainan City residents will be able to take the test for free, the monetary value of this sponsorship is over NT$1.65 million. Those who meet score standards will also receive official certificates (worth NT$300). Chang specially thanked Chun Shin Limited for its strong support of the Tainan City Government’s policy to promote English as the second official language. He added that the company originally offered 1,200 slots. However, as there was such a positive response, Chun Shin Limited Chairperson T.J. Shao specially increased the number to 1,500. Spaces are limited, so city residents are urged to take advantage of this rare opportunity and register immediately.
Office of English as the Second Official Language (OEASOL) Director and Tainan City Government Deputy Secretary-General Lee Hsien-wei said registration fees will be waived for residents, and they will also be able to download study materials compiled by the “Global Education Association in Taiwan (GEAT)” for free. If they are interested in evaluating their English proficiency beforehand, they can download the official TOEIC Bridge Practice Test for free. Test takers who achieve a score of 92 or above will receive English certification emblems provided by GEAT. Those who achieve a score of 134 or above will receive official TOEIC Bridge certificates of achievement awarded by ETS.
Shao said TOEIC Bridge is the bridge connecting TOEIC. Compared to TOEIC, which assesses the English skills needed in the workplace, TOEIC Bridge focuses on the English skills needed for everyday situations. The number of test questions is lower and test time is shorter, and the results have diagnostic capabilities and can be used as indicators to improve the study of English. The test is designed for beginning to intermediate English learners and evaluates the basic English communication skills used in everyday life.
Shao emphasized that the Tainan City Government has spared no efforts to promote English as the second official language, driving the entire city to learn English. The TOEIC Bridge test is extremely suited for company employees or residents wishing to evaluate their everyday English communication abilities. Chun Shin Limited made the decision to offer free tests to support the city’s promotion of English as the second official language and assist residents in assessing their English proficiency and improving their English abilities.
During the press conference, GEAT CEO and professor Chen Chao-ming indicated that English proficiency is an asset, and improving one’s English proficiency is the direction that everyone should work towards. With regards to the demand for proficient English speakers, job requirements should guide the proportion of linguistic talents deployed. When companies need talented negotiators who can sit down at international conference tables, they should look for those with TOEIC scores of 900 or above. In government offices, these proficient English speakers only account for 10 to 20 percent of the workforce. A larger proportion (about 60 percent) of employees only need to know simple English to communicate with foreigners or hold simple conversations that use everyday English. This is enough to create an international living environment. Not everyone needs to learn the same English. English is the second official language of Tainan, and there is no need for people to speak it as well as the first official language of Chinese or their native tongue. Instead, the objective is to cultivate a type of supplementary and simple communication tool.
Chen also said the Tainan City Government’s effort to promote English as the second official language is a step-by-step process, and simultaneously addressing different job requirements while establishing different English language ability indicators is a more pragmatic approach. The GEAT also specially compiled the “Easy English for All Walks of Life” study manual that offers abundant practical content. For this project, the GEAT designed the ‘“I Speak English’ English certification emblem” to recognize the achievements of test takers. Shops and companies can also display this emblem to help promote their English-language services.
The OEASOL said the registration period opened on March 20, 2018, and the test will be administered in May. A certain proportion of the spaces will be reserved for city government employees, and spaces will also be offered to residents. Those who are interested can get more information and register through the OEASOL’s website (oeasol.tainan.gov.tw). They can also download free study materials and practice test questions to prepare for the test.