Bilingual Learning in Vocational and Technological Colleges and Universities—Series 1 National Taiwan University of Science and Technology Cultivates Industry Practice Talents with International Communication Skills
The Ministry of Education (MOE) is promoting the program on Bilingual Education for Students in Taiwan College (BEST) to develop English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI). This program, divided into two sections called “Focused Development” and “Generalized Enhancement”, is aimed to elevate international competitiveness among the entire sector of higher education schools. The main goal is to cultivate national talents in key industrial areas with bilingual capability, and encourage instructors and students in colleges and universities to comprehensively improve their skills in teaching and learning English. The MOE has approved 8 departments within 4 Focus Development schools and 13 Generalized Enhancement schools among vocational and technological colleges in Taiwan. These selected schools are encouraged to establish the foundation of students’ English learning, and once these students have sufficient English proficiency, EMI courses would be promoted to ensure the effectiveness of all English-taught courses. The MOE expects to cultivate industry practice talents with international communication skills as well as internationalizing campuses and elevating international competitiveness.
Three colleges in the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) were selected by the BEST program as cultivation schools and were financed with NT$ 21 million in total: the College of Engineering, the College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the School of Management. Taiwan Tech took advantage of its previous English-taught courses, and with the support of BEST, they prepared summer EMI courses for pre-freshmen. The courses combined lectures, bilingual glossaries, and English academic articles for these students to experience English-teaching environments for their future studies. The goals of the courses are to cultivate the foundation of academic English and let the students adapt to the EMI teaching style.
In 2020, the Language Center, the College of Engineering, and the College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in Taiwan Tech co-organized “Guide to English-taught Programs” and 300 pre-freshmen participated in these programs. The curricula of the programs established academic courses with professional subjects taught in English, and emphasized English listening, speaking, and reading skills to meet the demand of EMI requirements. In order to ensure learning outcomes, these programs hired teaching assistants and English tutors to provide individual tutoring services for practice based on personalized learning needs.
Participants who attended the programs noticed that these EMI preparation programs benefited their understanding of academic English and expanded their professional vocabulary word banks. They also found that when reading English books, their reading fluency and comprehension had greatly improved. Additionally, they were much more able to utilize the contents of the EMI courses during all subsequent semesters and could talk with their instructors and classmates in English. As their English-speaking abilities grew, it built up their confidence and encouraged them to take and participate in other EMI courses.
In addition to establishing preparatory classes for pre-freshmen, the College of Engineering in Taiwan Tech, which was selected as a cultivation school for the BEST program, offers English-taught experimental courses. These professionally mixed classes are taught by Dr. Hao-Yeh Lee from the Department of Chemical Engineering with students from the Taiwan and other international students using the smart chemical laboratory together. Dr. Lee observed that in the beginning of the class, students from the Taiwan were too nervous to collaborate with foreign classmates; however, they gradually became familiar with each other as the class got underway. Mr. Zhong from the Department of Chemical Engineering, who is also a member in the English-taught experimental courses, claimed that there were engaging group discussions and students in class needed to complete different experiments with their foreign lab partners. During the class, not only did they improve their speaking skills, but also gained more confidence in expressing their opinions in English. Mr. Zhong considered these learning experiences to be very unique and unforgettable.