A British Voice in Taiwan
I should begin by introducing myself a little, which were it in person would begin with a traditional handshake, a smile, perhaps a polite 'good to meet you' or maybe even an informal 'alright', which would immediately give away my country of origin to another native English speaker.
If these were not clues enough for you, my homeland is famous for Shakespeare, the Queen, Tea drinking, Pub culture, areas of scenic beauty, bustling cities and living history. Four nations form the whole, and their cities are some of the most culturally diverse in the world. Musicians & artists from the island continue to be driving forces on the world stage, with Beatlemania, Punk and New wave/rave culture all originating here. The nation's favourite sports are not the usual American/Taiwanese fare of Basketball and Baseball. Instead we'd much rather play football, tennis, rugby or cricket depending on the season and weather, the discussion of which is another famous trait. Although our culinary skills are considered poor in comparison to our other fellow European nations, some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world are to found here, but at the end of the day I can't deny that fish and chips is what we're best known for! At their best, my country's people are known for their sense of humour and charm, although in Hollywood films we are more often than not cast as the cunning or quirky, loveable or dastardly bad guys!
Whether or not the generalisations are true, I hope you will have guessed by now that I am British, English if we're being exact. In this coming semester I will be joining the Foreign Languages Division of NTU as an IELTS instructor of spoken and aural English, and do hope I may have chance to see you in my class!
As a previous MA graduate of Edinburgh University in Chinese studies, and therefore a second language learner myself, I am well aware of the obstacles that face English language learners in Taiwan. Besides helping my students to develop their comprehension and conversational abilities, I look forward to sharing further the culture of my country, and of course helping them develop fine spoken English.
It cannot be ignored, that many people here in Taiwan mistakenly believe that American English is somehow 'better' or more highly regarded than British English internationally. To those of you who may wonder what differentiates the two, well the truth is essentially very little; some spellings and pronunciation of certain words are the most notable examples. In Britain, we are well versed in American culture and vocabulary through constant exposure, but ask an American what a 'jumper' is, what it means to be 'poorly' or if they would like to go for 'a pint' and you'd probably be met with a blank look of incomprehension!
There is no competition here; both forms of English well mastered will take you far, expanding your cultural horizons and opening many doors of opportunity for both now and in the future.
But for those wishing to prepare for time abroad in the UK, gain a 'heads up' on the culture and vocabulary of Britain, are inquisitive to learn through exploration and discussion, or perhaps wish simply wish to give their spoken English a more 'English' flair, well I look forward to seeing you in the coming semester!
筆者為任教於台大語文中心外籍教師 Alex Ives