Implement in Full Scale Bilingualization of Taiwan’s Educational System; Cultivate Bilingual Talents to Bring Taiwan to the World
To 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 a goal “to implement in full scale bilingualization of Taiwan’s educational system and to cultivate bilingual talents to bring Taiwan to the world.” To reach this goal, the following five policies will be launched: Adopt a dynamic teaching approach with focus on daily English use, expand human resources required for English education, make effective use of digital technology and promote individualized learning, accelerate the internationalization of the educational system, and relax current regulations to allow for flexible mechanisms. Students will enhance their English competencies both in general use and in the competitive workplace. Together with other ministries and departments, it is hoped that the needs of English can be activated, so that English education can serve as a useful tool in the society. Only at this moment can the bilingual-country policy be verified as successful.
The 12-year English curriculum guidelines aim to promote learner autonomy and life-long learning. Meanwhile, English education should also follow the global trend: to provide more opportunities for students to learn and use the target language in the real-life environment instead of sitting in the classroom and learning the English language preordained in textbooks. The English learners are further expected to be more capable of exploring the new world as more application experiences are enriched, and most importantly, they have to learn to appreciate and respect different peoples and cultures and to get ready to engage in international affairs with confidence and insight. To reach the goal mentioned above, the MOE will launch five policies as follows:
- Adopt a dynamic teaching approach with focus on daily English use to enhance learning motivation: Strengthening listening and speaking skills in primary and secondary education; promoting CLIL ( Content and Language Integrated Learning) in designated primary and secondary learning domains or subjects; implementing step-by-step the TEIE (Teaching English in English) policy in primary and secondary education; promoting ESP (English for Specific Purposes) teaching and learning for vocational schools.
- Expand human resources required for English education in response to local needs: Making effective use of English-speaking international students, as well as students and youths of Chinese descent, now studying in or visiting Taiwan to assist primary and secondary school English teaching; promoting the effectiveness of English teaching and learning resources centers sponsored by local governments; establishing TEIE (Teach English in English) research centers; hosting TEIE courses for in-service and pre-service teachers.
- Make effective use of digital technology and promote individualized learning to develop learner potential: Taking inventory of and integrating the resources now available in both the central and local governments, together with those in the private sector, for effective teaching and learning; promoting distance digital learning for young learners and their parents; intensifying digital learning and encouraging digital learning partnership.
- Accelerate the internationalization of the educational system to bring the world to Taiwan: Expanding international exchange in schools of all levels (e.g., educational travel programs and Model United Nations); promoting international joint and dual degree programs in higher education; increasing the number of colleges or degree programs for international students; making effective use of the resources of social education institutions (e.g., producing diversified English learning programs).
- Relax current regulations to allow for flexible mechanisms so that new learning modes can be created: Speeding 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 make possible the enrollment of Taiwanese students in private international schools such as Taipei American School). It is expected that the revised regulations will be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for review and discussion in March, 2019 and the sub-laws along with the accompanying implementation measures will simultaneously be enacted.
As for the concerns from all walks of life regarding the promotion of bilingual education in Taiwan, the official response of the MOE is as follows:
- Issues on teacher preparation and professional development: According to 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. Currently, there are 18 teacher training universities showing willingness to take part in the plan and it is expected that 2,000 teachers (short-term goal) will be ready in 2022, 3,000 teachers (medium-term goal) in 2026, and 4,000 teachers (long-term goal) in 2030.
- Issues on the gaps in English learning: To bridge the gaps resulting from regional variations, the MOE has provided special support to ensure stability of English teachers in remote areas based on the “Act for Education Development of Schools in Remote Areas”. English teachers in remote areas will have the opportunity to go abroad for summer in-service professional development programs. Students in remote areas will be given online resources for self-study to ensure that they also have fine quality environment for learning English.
- Issues on the use of digital technology to assist learning of English: The MOE has set up an educational information platform, entitled Education Cloud, to integrate a variety of learning contents and services. A special section will be designated for the learning of English exclusively, with analysis of learner data and personalized services. Innovative technologies such as AR and AI will be incorporated to create mobile virtual learning environments.
- Issues on creating a friendly English learning environment: Through CLIL lessons, learners are immersed in the learning of English. Furthermore, through listening to audio story books, reading novels and morning English reading activities, learners gain more exposure to English and have more opportunities to practice using English. It is hoped that, from a variety of perspectives (cultural, industrial, etc.) and through the joint effort of the central and local governments, an English friendly 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. Children learn English to get to know the world. After their English proficiency is improved, they will put what they have learned into effective use both in daily life and in workplace, ultimately boosting Taiwan’s visibility around the world.