Sat, Mar 18, 2006 - Page 1 News List

CLA to limit English teachers' hours

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) will announce by the end of this month new regulations that will restrict the number of hours foreign teachers can teach English to no more than 32 a week.

The new policy will also require that those with more than one teaching position teach at least six hours at the other institutions. The total workload, however, still cannot exceed 32 hours.

The draft has already been approved by the council's review committee and official notices will soon be sent to English-teaching institutions nationwide.

Chou Ting-an (周丁安), chief of research and planning at the council's Vocational Training and Employment Department, said that the council had considered the average weekly hours a regular junior-high English teacher teaches when setting the standard.

"The main concern is quality of teaching," Chou said, "If there are no restrictions, the employers will increase the hours indefinitely and affect the overall quality of the teaching."

Chou said 32 hours is not an absolute standard and the minimum number of hours will remain at 14.

The regulations will see fines imposed on employers who break the rules. The exact amounts will be announced later this month.

To enforce the new policy, Chou said the council will entrust local inspectors in counties and cities with the task of conducting monthly checks on English schools within their districts. They will also randomly select foreign teachers from these schools and inquire about their class schedules.

Chou said the council was aware it was inevitable that some teachers will sometimes exceed the number when they substitute classes for other teachers, but said that these could be handled as special cases.

The policy change was likely benefit smaller English schools, which do not necessarily require teachers to commit to more than 14 hours.

English teachers, however, do not think the new policy will have a significant impact on their working conditions.

Joel Charron, who has been teaching for the past three years for the same school, said he did not know any foreign teacher who had been offered 32 teaching hours.

Teachers are in general offered around 20 hours, while 30 hours is probably the maximum number one could work, he said.

Charron said the council's concerns regarding teaching quality were legitimate, but pointed to the fact that some schools tend to change teachers too frequently.

"It would be tough on the kids if they have to readjust to new teachers and new management styles," he said. "They need consistency in schooling."

He expressed doubt that fines would deter schools from asking teachers to take additional hours.

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