The government plans to train 2,000 grade-school teachers to teach entirely in English within the next four years, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Monday.
The Executive Yuan on Dec. 6, 2018 passed a “blueprint for developing a bilingual nation” submitted by the National Development Council, with the goal of achieving widespread public fluency in English by 2030.
President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday met with a group of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, and reportedly urged the lawmakers to make faster progress on the blueprint.
Tsai, who is also the DPP chairperson, was quoted as saying that English fluency was necessary to ensure Taiwan’s international competitiveness, and asked the ministry to work with legislators to facilitate that progress.
DPP Legislator Rosalia Wu also said that bilingualism was important for Taiwan’s international competitiveness, adding that it was an important policy for Tsai to implement during her second term.
DPP Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien said Tsai had spoken with Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung by telephone earlier in the day to inquire about progress on the blueprint, and was told that it had been put on hold due to elections.
Citing Tsai, Chang Liao said English fluency was important in many circumstances, such as when procuring arms internationally.
Tsai has asked defense officials to improve their English-language proficiency and knowledge of international affairs toward this purpose, he added.
The ministry later on Monday said it is promoting the use of English as the medium of instruction for English-language classes — as opposed to teaching grammar using Chinese, adding it would begin promoting the use of English as the medium of instruction for all courses in some vocational school departments.
It plans train 2,000 English-speaking teachers for this purpose over the next four years, and an additional 1,000 teachers before 2028, it said.
DPP Legislator Huang Kuo-shu said that the ministry still had no road map to implement its goal.
The legislature cannot do anything until the Executive Yuan works out a legislative proposal that lawmakers could discuss, he said.
According to the ministry, the Executive Yuan has begun looking at loosening some restrictions, such as a stipulation in the Regulations Governing the Implementation of Kindergarten and Childcare Services that prohibits all day or half-day foreign language lessons for children, as well as a stipulation in the Employment Service Act prohibiting kindergartens from hiring foreign teachers.
It was focused on pushing for amendments to the National Education Act and the Senior High School Education Act that would pave the way for elementary, junior and senior-high schools to become more bilingual, the ministry said.
It said it also wants to have the Private School Act amended to allow Taiwanese students attend international schools in the nation, and would push for dual-degree programs at colleges, among other amendments, it said.
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