Wanluan Township Kindergarten in Pingtung County has implemented Hakka immersion education since 2013, with remarkable results. Li Jung-chen (李容珍), the head of the kindergarten, was interviewed by the editor of the HAC’s English website and shared the experience of Hakka immersion education in the kindergarten over the years.
(Photos courtesy of Wanluan Township Kindergarten)
Li said that the goal of the kindergarten is to bring the Hakka language into everyday life, strengthen children's Hakka language ability, and build up their self-confidence in listening to and speaking Hakka language. The curriculum planning of Hakka language teaching is discussed, conceived and designed by the teachers in the kindergarten. The content of the curriculum is combined with the local culture of Pingtung, such as local specialty fruits, gourmet cuisine, tourist attractions, and traditional toys, and is aimed at arousing students' interest in learning Hakka language through games. Teachers sometimes take students to participate in community activities, allowing children to interact with local elders and have more opportunities to speak Hakka in daily life. The kindergarten's teachers also took part in the workshops held by Pingtung University of Education from time to time. In addition to improving their own teaching ability, they also gain a deeper understanding of Hakka language and culture by attending the workshops.
In the early stage of promoting Hakka immersion education, the kindergarten won unanimous approval from the parents. Li said that the feedback from parents is very positive, because the teaching themes in kindergarten all come from students’ daily life experience, and with the new words they learn, students can talk to their parents in Hakka more naturally at home. Even non-Hakka families are very willing to learn Hakka language with their children. Using this method, Hakka language immersion education is not only limited to the kindergarten, but extends the use of Hakka language to the family and even the community.
In the past, Li was worried about the rapid loss of Hakka language, but over the years as she devotes herself to promoting Hakka language education in kindergartens, she has gradually seen results. She has begun to gain confidence that this non-mainstream language can continue to be passed down from generation to generation in Taiwan.