Interfaces: EU Studies and European Languages Programs in East Asia

José E. Borao Mateo、Vassilis Vagios 主編
Hungdah Su、Hans Werner Hess、Aleksandar Pavković、Roland Vogt、Jose Eugenio、Borao Mateo、Wai-Meng Chan、Andrew E. Finch、Chung Heng Shen、Yi-De Liu、Vassilis Vagios 著

Partly due to the European Union’s insistent and successful policies on pluriculturalism and plurilinguism, there have recently been voices challenging the prevalent and practical consensus in East Asian educational policies that saw English as the only tool for international communication. Their argument emphasizes that when dealing with countries that are sellers of goods and services, knowledge of the languages and cultures of prospective customers is essential. They also acknowledge the strong correlation between economic and political power and the extensive study of foreign languages.

This book takes a stand on important aspects of this multifaceted argument. The first part addresses the meaning of European Studies, an issue of great relevance now that Europe, in sharp contrast to East Asia, is experiencing a severe economic recession. The second part presents formulas that have been employed by institutions in East Asia in attempting to satisfy the needs of students and scholars for advanced knowledge of European languages as they strive for answers to their research questions on Europe. The final part deals with the difficult issue of linking the syllabuses of European Studies and foreign languages.

The consensus that emerges from the scholars contributing to this book points towards rejecting the addition of large scale resources for the creation of successful programs in outstanding universities. Instead, it seems preferable to maximize existing resources by creating conditions that allow ad-hoc cross campus cooperation, and foster mobility of students through exchange programs so that they can have their own European experience.


Hungdah Su is Professor & Jean Monnet Chair of the Department of Political Science College of Social Sciences at National Taiwan University. He is also Director General of the European Union Centre in Taiwan.

Hans Werner Hess is Professor of European Studies and one of two Programme Coordinators of the European Studies programme at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research areas include E-learning / Blended Learning, European Studies curriculum development and issues of European history relevant for Asian students.

Aleksandar Pavković; is Associate Professor of politics at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He has served as coordinator of the Master of European Studies at the University of Macau, Director of the Centre for Slavonic and East European Studies and Program Director of the Bachelor of European Studies at Macquarie University.

Roland Vogt is Assistant Professor of European Studies in the European Studies Programme, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, at the University of Hong Kong. His research interests are European diplomacy and foreign policy, Sino-European relations, political leadership, and value contestation in Europe.

Jose Eugenio Borao Mateo is Professor of Span ish Language and Spanish Culture in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University, where he has served as coordinator of the European Languages Division, of the Department of Foreign Languages. His areas of research focus on the historical relations between China & Taiwan and Spain.

Wai Meng Chan is Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Language Studies at the National University of Singapore. His research currently focuses on learner autonomy, metacognition, language learning motivation, and the application of new technologies in language learning.

Andrew E. Finch is Professor of English Education in the School of Education at Kyungpook National University, in the Republic of Korea. His research interests include heritage language learning, language teaching as education of the whole person, the non-threatening learning environment, and task-based supplementation of textbooks.

Chung Heng Shen is Assistant Professor in the Department of French, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Fu Jen Catholic University, in Taiwan, Republic of China. His major research interests are European Union integration, European citizenship, language and identity, French government and politics.

Yi-De Liu is Associate Professor at the Graduate Institute of European Cultures and Tourism, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan. His research interests and reaching expertise include cultural tourism management, European heritage tourism, European cultural events and European cultural policies.

Vassilis Vagios is Associate Professor of Classical Greek in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University. His research focuses on functional linguistics and its application for interpreting literature.


Part One: Building EU and European Studies Programs

1. A Historical and Academic Review of EU Studies in Taiwan

2. Understanding Europe – Understanding Yourself:
European Studies in Hong Kong

3. Keeping in Touch with Europe: European Studies at Macau

4. European Studies on China’s Transformation: A Critical Assessment

Part Two: The Role of the European Languages (EUL) Programs

5. The Formation of the European Languages Division in the DFLL at NTU and the Challenges for the Future JOSE EUGENIO BORAO MATEO

6. Foreign Language Learning in Higher Education in Singapore: With a Special Focus on the European Language Curriculums of the National University of Singapore

7. The Decline of European Language Education in Korea and the Rise of English

Part Three: European Languages Interacting with European
and EU Studies

8. “Language for Specific Purposes” and European Studies: Chances and Dilemmas

9. The Partnership between Culture and Tourism: What Can Taiwan Learn from Europe and How?

10. Language and Culture: The Contribution of European Classical Languages



Soon after its inauguration in May 2009, the European Union Centre in Taiwan signed an agreement with the prestigious National Taiwan University Press to publish a series of books on EU Studies for the purpose of deepening and widening the understanding of the EU and its policies, both in Taiwan and the rest of the Chinese-speaking world. In order to ensure the high quality of the series, all of the books are peer reviewed, chapter-by-chapter, and then adopted by the editorial board before publication. All editors of the books are well-established scholars in the field of European Union Studies.

The series on EU Studies in Taiwan has already published two books. The New Era of the European Union’s Economic and Trade Policies, edited by WTO panelist Professor Catherine Li, focuses upon developments in EU economic and trade policies after the Lisbon Treaty came into effect. The second work, The European Union and Integration Theory since 1950, published under my personal editorship, presents a general and detailed review of the interplay between EU history and developments in integration theory. Professors Borao and Vagios’ book, Interfaces: EU Studies and European Languages Programs in East Asia, is the third in the series, but the first English publication of the EU Centre in Taiwan. It addresses the interaction between EU Studies and the teaching of European languages, which constitutes the very basis of any understanding of European civilization. The publication of this book confirms both the value and the feasibility of interdisciplinary cooperation within EU Studies. This publication is the result of ceaseless hard work by professors Borao and Vagios, and amicable cooperation by the other authors.

In the coming years, the EU Centre in Taiwan plans to publish at least five books: New Trends of the EU Law, Smart Power of the EU, Public Governance of the EU, Debt Crisis and Financial Governance of the EU, and External Action of the EU. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to all of the editors, authors and referees of these books, the members of the editorial board, and the colleagues of the NTU Press and EU Centre in Taiwan. I am particularly grateful to Ms. Penny Chen, the administrator responsible for editing the series. Without the cooperation and devotion, of all these individuals none of the above mentioned publications would have been possible. I invite all readers and experts to comment upon our publications in order to ensure that this series will continue contributing to a greater understanding of the EU throughout the Chinese–speaking world.

Chief Editor of the Series

Hungdah Su


A common approach taken by educational policy makers or tertiary institutions administrators is to understand foreign language instruction either as a medium of communication for business or as a tool to facilitate reading assignments in graduate studies. At the same time it is tacitly understood that foreign language will usually mean English. However, English is not always the only or best option. As Stephen Brockmann said to an American readership, “A country that merely wants to buy goods and services from other countries … may be able to rely on others’ willingness to speak its language. But a country that wants to sell goods and services must learn the languages and cultures of its prospective customers … and it is hard to escape the conclusion that the extensive study of foreign languages is positively correlated with economic and political power”. Similar ideas may lead some program designers to think that the market decides the policy regarding the supply of languages to be taught; and that, consequently, some languages will be fashionable in a given period while others may never be. For other school bureaucrats, Foreign Languages other than English may present a positive image in their statistical discourse about the international standards of their university. As a result, favouring the European languages that are usually more in demand (i.e. German, French or Spanish) will be more expedient when building the school image, since they will provide a larger enrolment, especially so if they are only taught at the beginners levels. Even if there is some truth in all these assumptions, tertiary institutions should have other goals apart from merely serving the needs of the market. A case illustrative of an alternative aim is the situation of the European Language (EUL) courses offered in National Taiwan University, which have been designed from the point of view of their teachers, not that of administrators. The results do not necessarily show the evolution of any market, but instead display an evolution that attempts to meet pedagogical goals: that what is on offer is built (under the limitations inherent in any institution and allowing for the lack of specific EUL departments) under the understanding among the teachers that they are creating comprehensive programs, making space for the so-called “less common taught languages”, which nevertheless are rich in cultural connectivity.

When researching Foreign Languages teaching policies, the creation of syllabi and the establishment of synergies between complementary areas of learning – in other words, the purpose of this book – it is difficult to escape the simple but necessary approach of offering reports of the situation in a given school or country, and this difficulty loomed as we were compiling this book. Nevertheless, we have tried consciously to go beyond this approach, because statistics only offer trends, not the reasons why a particular design works or not, or what its process of consolidation and renewal is. So we have deliberately attempted to set a new approach: to focus on when and how syllabus constructions can link European languages and European studies.

The first part of this book considers the meaning of European Studies, an issue which becomes especially relevant now that Europe, in sharp contrast with the situation in East Asia, is experiencing a severe economic recession. The purpose is to address the question of how European studies can or should adapt once more to a new political, economic, social and cultural environment. It seems that those studies experienced a decline of interest in regions like Japan, Korea, Hong Kong or Macao, and the authors of the book propose a range of different explanations. Sometimes the reason is that the relevant programs lack definition or practical application, and when this problem is compounded by high fees, the situation results in cases like Macao in a high percentage of non-completion, since students are tempted to start working before graduation. In other cases the decline can be attributed to the perception among students that the EU is changing from integration to disintegration, that Europe is in a process of re-construction, and that it is difficult to see what the new Europe will look like or stand for. Certainly this perception is further strengthened by the fact that Europe has been presented as a series of disasters, rather than as 70 years of peace; as conflict rather than as ways of ritualizing conflict, despite the fact that this latter approach can be very well understood in an East Asia of societies shaped by the Confucian principles of social harmony.

Integration is most commonly chosen as a focal point in European Studies when a program concentrates on recent political affairs. Yet, there is a great multiplicity of possible approaches, like – to mention just an example – the dialogues between government and civil society. Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, broadened the vision of Europe saying: “The economic success of Europe depends on a triangle, composed by the competence, which works as stimulus of the economy, the cooperation, which enforces it, and the solidarity, that unites”.

Solidarity becomes more prominent when one attempts to understand the diversity of cultures in Europe, for which communication through language instruction – the topic of the second part of this book – seems to be essential. Do the students and scholars need advanced knowledge of EUL to answer questions on Europe? In the mind of the contributors of this book there are even more specific questions. What is the identity of Europe? What do Europeans say about themselves? What is the understanding of human nature which forms the foundation of the European legal system? Is there any European tradition as an intellectual phenomenon? Many programs rely on English books to approach these questions, but they may only offer a shallow knowledge of the topic for graduate students aiming to write their thesis on specific countries. On the other hand, the list of challenges of the feasibility of the programs can be enlarged. As Europe is made up of different states and as courses about Europe are taught by specialists from different countries, there is the risk that some undergraduate programs offer content but without a clear framework of reference that would help students to map the knowledge they acquire. Similarly, many students probably know quite a lot about European Union but not about European history. This lack of a general perspective may lead to many structural and rigid conclusions. Finally we can see how some programs offer a list of courses with appealing titles, like “Handling a Conflict”, or “Love in the European Tradition”, etc., resulting in a general organization that is confusing for the students: deep in analysis, but with little overview. What is the role of the language in integrating this knowledge? Probably it is not a matter of levels but of the diversity of languages. The best “course” is to learn more than one European language and to balance the same issue by using different national perspectives, which are integrated in the same mind of the researcher. It is known that elites look for two or three languages to succeed in their careers, but can this achievement be democratized? It appears to be a difficult way to go, but when the programs are thoroughly designed this objective is not as unreachable as it may seem. Probably the best programs are those that are actualized, modified and improved every year towards a clear well defined goal. To define this goal is not a matter of predetermined levels of proficiency following the Common European Framework of Reference for languages, but to know the general academic framework of the students and to see how programs can best suit them, in a permanent process of trial and error.

The third part of this book deals with the difficult issue of linking the syllabi of European studies and foreign languages. Certainly, the three economic axes of competence, cooperation and solidarity mentioned by Delors should be embodied in the different domains of the European social fabric, consequently giving even more importance to the learning of languages not only to better enhance cooperation and solidarity, but to apply the proper language acquisition for the specific fields of knowledge. How should departments be organized? Are multidisciplinary, or multilingual or multicultural programs better? Further questions add additional perspectives. For example some would consider that teaching grammar is obsolete for teaching languages for specific purposes; or a graduate student of Tourism would not be considered a potential tourist guide, but a potential tourist manager, needing language skills that will enable him or her to consult data to produce statistics, look for prospective markets, etc. From other perspectives again, the link between European studies and languages is an art that seeks to find the best method of interpreting language and content (showing for example why the subjunctive mode is important to understand a culture). The same kind of art needs to be possessed by those who seek to co-ordinate these different perspectives in a way that would allow combining the five departments of languages in a College of Foreign Languages, because while such diversity is a treasure, it can also be an obstacle.

It is difficult to reach conclusions, but we think that the best way for creating successful programs in big universities is not just to add a great amount of new resources, but to think on ways of maximizing the existing ones, creating conditions that allow ad-hoc cross campus cooperation, and certainly fostering mobility of students through exchange programs so that they can have their own European experience. Language should be a tool to reach Europe and immersion for at least a year should be a requirement, bearing in mind that it is the experience in Europe that counts, not the mastering of European languages. The experience will even be further enhanced, enhanced, if the student is able to gain some practical working experience in one or two European countries. Equipped with all these experiences it will be considerably easier for a student to understand more sophisticated concepts like the claim that the European Union is based on mutual forgiveness and understanding; or to demand from students to write their thesis in English or other European languages. But most importantly the students, and their instructors, will be trained in critical thinking, and because of that they will reassess what critical thinking means.

Finally we want to add also a touch of realism. When designing programs, administrators should not be so naive as to ignore what companies want, what human resources departments look for, and other basic things like an excellent command of the applicants’ own national language which are still very important in terms of employability. After all, ultimately graduates have to make a living. We hope that these ideas and the approach of the present book will be further developed by others and that our contribution may serve to serve to open up a debate that encourages more colleagues to participate.

Jose Eugenio Borao Mateo

Vassilis Vagios