Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 4 News List

English-teachers' conference focuses on class challenges


English teachers in Taiwan said yesterday that the most common problem they encounter in classrooms is the gap between students in urban and rural areas and the different levels of students.

They made the remarks at a press conference which was held following two workshops sponsored by the College Board, a New York-based education institution that specializes in nurturing English teachers.

The three-day workshops were held in Taipei from Aug. 14 to Aug. 16 and in Kaohsiung from Aug. 18 to Aug. 20. A total of 154 English teachers from junior and senior high schools attended.

The two teaching experts and two staff of the College Board, who were invited by the Ministry of Education to come to Taiwan, said that the ideal situation would be around 20 students in a class, although most of the English teachers said that they have to deal with far more students than that.

A survey of the participants in the workshops found that up to 90 percent of the teachers said that the workshop helped them.

Some also suggested that there will be advanced courses in the future and that they could receive guidance on how to effectively teach a class where students have strikingly different ability levels.

Fang Huei-chin (范慧琴), an English teacher in a Taipei County junior high school, said that -- under the present examination system in Taiwan -- English teaching tends to focus on reading.

Fang said that she had spent a lot of time comparing the English teaching materials on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and found that the materials used in China seek to upgrade the students' ability in listening, speaking and reading and writing simultaneously. That, she said, came as quite a surprise to her.

Fang noted that she used to focus on the performance of the students in tests, and now she was aware that listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities are equally important.

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