Sat, Sep 29, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Premier seeks easing of rules barring English

Staff writer, with CNA

Premier William Lai delivers a speech in Taipei on Sept. 19.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Premier William Lai (賴清德) has directed the Ministry of Education to look at ways to ease regulations that ban English-language education at preschools in an effort to start the process of transforming Taiwan into a nation that speaks Chinese and English.

Lai issued the instruction at a meeting last week with officials from the ministry and the National Development Council (NDC), Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said on Thursday in response to media queries about the premier’s plan to make Taiwan a bilingual country, with Chinese and English as official languages.

Kolas said that during the meeting, which discussed how to best ensure the development of bilingual education, it was suggested that the earlier children start learning a language, the quicker they begin to use it.

Lai later instructed the ministry to look at ways to relax regulations that prohibit English-language education at preschools, she said.

Currently, no teaching of foreign languages is allowed at preschools, while the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) stipulates that foreigners can only teach at universities, colleges, high schools or cram schools, with few exceptions allowed.

Given the important role played by language in promoting national development, the premier also instructed the council to lead the way in drafting policies to turn Taiwan into a bilingual nation, Kolas said.

Meanwhile, NDC Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) said that a a “bilingual country” is defined as one in which most people can read, write, speak and understand two languages.

With that goal in mind, Lai defined the promotion of a bilingual nation as a short-term goal, while pushing for the long-term goal of embracing English as a second official language, Chen said.

She said the council would propose administrative plans or programs for the policy by the end of the year.

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