Promotion of Bilingualism with Great Effort: 50% of Students in Higher Education Expected to Reach Fluency Level
Higher Education Bilingual Policy-Promoting The Program on Bilingual Education for Students in College (BEST)
An unstoppable and irreversible trend under the sweeping wave of globalization is as follows, in spite of the Coronavirus 19 (COVID 19) pandemic: regarding any individual or nation that attempts to remain advantageous in competition, the command of the most important language for international communication – English – will always be a critical key to success.
In order to enhance the English abilities of students in the Republic of China (R.O.C. Taiwan), the Ministry of Education (MOE) promulgated the policy of The Program on Bilingual Education for Students in College (BEST) in April this year (2021), which is intended to strengthen students' English proficiency and promote English-taught environment or courses.
The BEST will be launched in the forthcoming semester (the academic year 110). Mr. Pan, Wen-Chung, Minister of Education, elaborated on this policy “To carry out bilingual teaching, the MOE will assist schools in recruiting international teaching talents for co-teaching with domestic faculty and for setting up an English-taught system. In addition, more teaching assistants will be introduced and scholarships will also be established for the construction of an English-taught environment”.
Moreover, offering more English-taught courses through resource sharing and inter-school cooperation is also one of the specific measures taken by the MOE to implement this program.
Cultivation of Major Domains and Establishment of Beacon Schools for Benchmarking
“Cultivation of major domains” and “Popularized enhancement” are the two themes in the BEST program. First of all, as to the cultivation of major domains, the MOE will select the universities and colleges which are more developed with international competitiveness to be transformed into beacon bilingual schools and will select professional domains academies to be transformed into beacon bilingual colleges, and serve as models for promoting bilingual education for domestic universities and colleges.
Concerning the “cultivation of major domains” for universities and colleges, the two goals set by the MOE to be achieved step by step are “25-20-20” by 2024 and “50-50-50” by 2030.
The goal of “25-20-20” means that at least 25% of sophomores in 3 beacon universities and 18 colleges will reach effective operational proficiency and mastery above The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) B2 in listening, speaking, reading, and writing by 2024, and at the same time, at least 20% of the sophomores and first-year graduate students will take more than 20% of English-taught course credits for the year.
The goal of “50-50-50” means that at least 50% of sophomores in 6 beacon universities and 30 colleges will reach effective operational proficiency and mastery above CEFR B2 in listening, speaking, reading, and writing by 2030, and at the same time, at least 50% of the sophomores and graduate students will take more than 50% of English-taught course credits for the year. In addition, the graduation certificate with English-Medium-Instruction Courses (EMI) certification will be promoted in order to be in line with international trends and the business world.
Popularized enhancement and Expansion of English-taught Courses
With regard to popularized enhancement, it aims to encourage all universities and colleges to improve overall teachers' English teaching abilities as well as students' English abilities which include two major goals: firstly, over 30% of English courses will be English-taught courses for at least 20 universities and colleges by 2024 and over 80% of English courses will be English-taught courses for at least 40 universities and colleges by 2030.
Secondly, students are encouraged to take EMI courses. It is expected that at least 5% of sophomores and first year graduate students in 2024 will take at least one English-taught course. At least 10% of sophomores and first year graduate students in 2030 will take at least two English-taught courses.
According to Mr. Pan, Wen-Chung, Minister of Education, “Through the increased percentages of English-taught courses in colleges and universities, we will cultivate talents who can engage in international communication.” The realization of the goal to build R.O.C. (Taiwan) as a bilingual nation by 2030 starts with the cultivation of college and university students with the ability to communicate in English.