Implement in Full Scale Bilingualization of Taiwan’s Educational System; Cultivate Bilingual Talents to Bring Taiwan to the World
In accord with the “Blueprint for Developing Taiwan into a Bilingual Nation by 2030” announced by the National Development Council (NDC) on December 6, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has now set “implementing full scale bilingualization of Taiwan’s educational system and cultivating bilingual talents to bring Taiwan to the world” as its goal. To reach this goal, five policies will be launched: 1. Adopt a dynamic teaching approach with focus on daily English use, 2. expand human resources required for English education, 3. make effective use of digital technology and promote individualized learning, 4. accelerate the internationalization of the educational system, and 5. relax current regulations to allow for flexible mechanisms. These policies will enhance students’ English competencies for both general use, and for use in the competitive workplace. Working together with other ministries and departments, the MOE wants to meet the need to vitalize English teaching and learning, so that English can serve as a useful tool in our society. Only then can the bilingual-country policy be deemed successful.
The 12-year English curriculum guidelines aim to promote learner autonomy and life-long learning, and Taiwan’s English education will follow the global trend: it will provide more opportunities for students to learn and use the target language in real-life environments instead of sitting in the classroom and learning the English language from textbooks. We expect that our English learners will be more capable of exploring the wider world as their experiences using English are more enriched, and most importantly, they will learn to appreciate and respect different peoples and cultures and be ready to engage in international affairs with confidence and insight.
The five policies the MOE will launch to reach the goal set out above are outlined below:
- Adopt a dynamic teaching approach with focus on daily English use to enhance learning motivation: strengthen listening and speaking skills during primary and secondary education; promote CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) in designated primary and secondary learning domains or subjects; implement the TEIE (Teaching English in English) policy for primary and secondary education step-by-step; promote ESP (English for Specific Purposes) teaching and learning for vocational schools.
- Expand human resources required for English education in response to local needs: Make effective use of English-speaking international students, as well as students and young people of Chinese descent currently studying in or visiting Taiwan, to assist primary and secondary school English teaching; promote the effectiveness of English teaching and learning resources centers sponsored by local governments; establish TEIE (Teach English in English) research centers; host in-service and pre-service TEIE courses for teachers.
- Make effective use of digital technology and promote individualized learning to develop learner potential: Take inventory of and integrate the central and local government resources now available, together with those of the private sector, for effective teaching and learning; promote distance digital learning for young learners and their parents; intensify digital learning and encourage digital learning partnerships.
- Accelerate the internationalization of the educational system to bring the world to Taiwan: Expand international exchanges in educational institutions at all levels (e.g., educational travel programs and Model United Nations); promote international joint and dual degree programs; increase the number of colleges and degree programs for international students; make effective use of the resources of social education institutions (e.g. by offering a diverse range of English learning programs).
- Relax current legislation to allow for flexible mechanisms so that new learning modes can be created: Speed up the process of relaxing the “Primary and Junior High School Act”, the “Senior High School Education Act” (to allow for the establishment of bilingual schools), and the “Private School Law” (to permit Taiwanese students to enroll private international schools such as Taipei American School). It is expected that the revised laws will be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for review and discussion in March, 2019 and will be passed together with the subsidiary-legislation and associated implementation measures.
The MOE has given the official responses below to concerns raised by people from different walks of life about the following aspects of the promotion of bilingual education in Taiwan:
- Teacher preparation and professional development: In accordance with the “CLIL Teacher Preparation Plan”, promulgated in November 2018, the MOE will host pre- and in-service teacher training programs to ensure that there are enough qualified teachers for CLIL classes in primary and secondary schools. Eighteen teacher training universities have already stated that they are willing to take part in the plan, and it is expected that 2,000 teachers (the short-term goal) will be ready to begin teaching in 2022; 3,000 teachers (the medium-term goal) in 2026; and 4,000 teachers (the long-term goal) in 2030.
- Gaps in urban-rural access to English learning: In accordance with the “Act for Education Development of Schools in Remote Areas”, the MOE provides special support to ensure the stable provision of English teachers in remote areas to bridge the gaps resulting from regional variations. English teachers in remote areas will have the opportunity to go abroad for summer in-service professional development programs, and students in remote areas will be given online resources for independent study to ensure that they also have excellent quality English-learning environments.
- Use of digital technology to assist learning English: The MOE has set up an educational information platform called Education Cloud that integrates a variety of learning content and services. It will have a special section exclusively designated for the learning of English, providing an analysis of learner data and personalized services. Innovative technologies such as AR and AI will be incorporated to create mobile virtual learning environments.
- Creating a friendly English learning environment: In CLIL lessons, the learners are immersed in English. Furthermore, listening to audio story books, reading novels, and taking part in morning English reading activities will give learners more exposure to English, and more opportunities to practice using English. It is hoped that with the joint efforts of the central and local governments, a friendly English environment can be created here in Taiwan.
The MOE will strive to achieve the goal of making Taiwan a bilingual country by 2030. Laying a solid foundation for English learning at an early age is important. Learning English children to get to know the world. As their English proficiency improves, they will be put what they have learned into effective use both in daily life and in the workplace, and this will ultimately boost Taiwan’s visibility around the world.