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Taiwan Scholarship Recipient Learns to Speak Minnan

Daniel Isaacson speaking on a Minnan-language television show panel (photo provided by Daniel)

Daniel Isaacson was first awarded a Ministry of Education Huayu Enrichment Scholarship and subsequently a Ministry of Education Taiwan Scholarship, and he began a master’s degree program in the Department of Political Science at National Taiwan University in 2019. After being accepted into the program, Daniel took an introductory course in Minnan (also known as Taiwanese Hokkien) offered by the university’s language center, a language spoken or understood by about 70% of the people in Taiwan
He supplemented the classwork with regular conversations with vendors at the markets and his landlord and listened to audio files of his textbooks repeating what he’d just heard, while doing mundane tasks at home or riding his motorcycle.
He completed the language program and received the Most Progress Award, and wanted to learn more but there were no intermediate-level courses available. So as well as working on his degree studies, Daniel enrolled in a course in the Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature at National Taiwan Normal University. He also made semi-regular appearances on a Taiwanese Hokkien-language television news panel discussion show and taught himself the vocabulary associated with the content of the next program.
In August this year, he sat for the Ministry of Education Taiwan Hokkien Proficiency Test at C level, the most advanced level. Daniel didn’t succeed this time but he’s looking forward to taking on this challenge again next year.
According to Ms. Yin Jiating, a Section Chief in the Lifelong Education Department of the Ministry of Education, the number of test takers for the Ministry’s Minnan language proficiency test has increased steadily in recent years. 
There were 13,886 test takers this year, an increase of 2,000 from last year, the highest number ever. They included some American students, and students from France, Japan, and Malaysia too. The youngest test-taker was just 6 years old, the oldest was 83.