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Premier calls for promotion of national languages

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Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday received a Ministry of Culture (MOC) briefing on a comprehensive development plan for Taiwan's national languages. The premier said the plan is expected to receive funding of over NT$30 billion (US$1 billion) over five years, and will tackle the issue at the levels of family, school and society. It will stimulate the use of national languages in daily life and foster native-speaking households and communities, thereby creating an environment that will ensure the passing of national languages to future generations.

Culture is the soul of a nation, the premier said, and language is a vital medium of cultural transmission. To advance the preservation, revival and development of national languages, the government promulgated the Development of National Languages Act on January 9, 2019, defining national languages as "the natural languages and sign languages used by the different ethnic groups in Taiwan," and stipulating that "all national languages shall be equal; nationals using a national language shall not be discriminated against or face restrictions." The MOC convened the first National Languages Development Convention in October 2021 in accordance with the act, while the premier in January directed the establishment of a board to promote national languages and serves as its convener.

The MOC formulated the national languages comprehensive development plan by compiling promotional strategies from pertinent government agencies. Over the next five years, the plan will devote more than NT$30 billion to focus on families, schools and society, and apply both static and dynamic methods of promotion. These methods include collecting and preserving valuable language materials, and updating native language writing systems to ensure native language scripts can be properly used. Promotional events such as competitions and camps will also be held to encourage native-speaking families and communities to use the languages more frequently and widely in their environments, the premier said.

The government's language policy has two parallel objectives: to preserve and develop Taiwan's languages, while improving the people's English-language abilities. The latter will enable those engaged in foreign affairs or professional fields—such as international negotiations, foreign trade, international finance and law—to strengthen their English capabilities and gain international competitiveness. Efforts are also underway to build an environment more conducive to English learning.

Language is central to building emotional connections and forging a national identity. The government is therefore determined to ensure the sustainable development of Taiwan's languages by pooling resources and strengths across government agencies. Agencies should promote the plan vigorously to protect the rights of citizens in using national languages and jointly enhance the development of multiculturalism in Taiwan, the premier said.

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