Tue, Jan 07, 2003 - Page 2 News List

MOE to snap up foreign teachers

BID Ministers plan to attract 1,000 teachers from English-speaking countries before August as part of a scheme to have one foreign teacher for each of Taiwan's schools

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Education will start recruiting foreign teachers from English-speaking countries next month to teach English in Taiwan's public elementary and secondary schools, Deputy Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) said yesterday.

Under the ministry's plan, the goal is to have at least 1,000 foreign teachers ready for the school year starting in August.

"The teaching program is being introduced in accordance with the implementation of the government's six-year national development plan -- Challenge 2008," said Fan. "Through this program, we wish to build a bridge from Taiwan to the world and boost Taiwan's competitiveness as Taiwan youngsters boost their English proficiency."

Under the Employment Services Act (就業服務法), public schools are prohibited from hiring foreign nationals as teachers. However, as consensus among legislators builds with regard to allowing foreign nationals to teach at public schools, recruitment will be able to start as early as next month, once the law is amended.

Aside from teaching students at schools, another function of foreign teachers will be to help train Taiwan's English teachers.

Fan added that, in a long run, the ministry wishes to hire 1,000 foreign teachers every year and to realize Premier Yu Shyi-kun's expectation to have at least one foreign English teacher in each of Taiwan's 3,300 elementary and secondary schools.

Yu suggested last year that English should become Taiwan's second official language.

Fan said that the ministry has notified foreign representative offices in Taiwan, including those of Britain, the US, Canada and Australia, of the ministry's plan and has asked them to help in recruiting teachers from their countries.

According to the ministry's plan, prospective foreign teachers must be under 45 and come from an English-speaking country with English as their mother tongue.

They must have a college degree in a linguistics-related fields, be proficient in basic Mandarin Chinese and have no record of drug abuse. Previous teaching experience is recommended.

Each foreign teacher will be paid NT$60,000 to NT$90,000 (US$1,800 to US$2,700) a month, which is about double the wage of Taiwan's English teachers.

Fan said a comparatively higher salary will be offered in order to attract competent teachers.

Prior to starting formal teaching in August, qualified teachers will have to undertake two weeks of training after arriving Taiwan to familiarize themselves with Taiwan's culture and educational arena.

"This teaching program holds multiple purposes," said Fan. "Aside from helping to upgrade English teaching quality, materials and curriculums in Taiwanese schools and make up for Taiwan's teacher shortage, these foreign teachers can also help broaden students' global view."

According to Fan, Japan started a similar program in 1978, South Korea in 1995 and Hong Kong in 1997. "Taiwan must do so too in order to catch up with the trend and to remain competitive with our neighboring countries," she said.

Despite the ministry's assurance that the program will not jeopardize the teaching opportunities of Taiwan-born English teachers, the program, however, has not been well-received by some Taiwanese English teachers.

Ho Hsin-yu (何心瑜), an English teacher from Taipei Mandarin Experimental Primary School, said that foreign teachers hired by the program will definitely jeopardize Taiwanese English teachers' career opportunities.

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