Fri, Feb 10, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Ministry initiates certification for teaching Chinese

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Education is planning a set of standards for the certification of instructors teaching Chinese as a foreign language to better ensure the quality of these teachers.

The Graduate Institute of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language at National Taiwan Normal University is heading the project and discussing possible methods for teachers to obtain an official certification from the education ministry.

Currently, university-affiliated Chinese-language centers hire their own instructors and provide their own certification.

A representative surnamed Lin from the Center of Chinese Language and Culture Studies at the university said that their teachers were selected after undergoing rigorous written exams, interviews, oral and pronunciation exams, and presenting demonstration classes.

A representative surnamed Hung from the Chinese department at the National Taiwan University Language Center said that they offered training courses providing a "certificate of completion" at the end of the program.

However, to be allowed to teach, prospective teachers need to obtain an official teaching certificate, Hung said.

After hammering out a set of standards, the education ministry hopes to provide a government-issued certificate for teaching Chinese as a foreign language, said an official surnamed Tang from the Bureau of Cultural and Educational Relations, which oversees the whole project.

Requirements for a government-approved teaching certificate may include taking certain training courses, undergoing exams in certain subjects and pronunciation tests, he said.

Nevertheless, university-affiliated language centers will not be forced to use only instructors with ministry-issued certificates, Tang said.

These centers will still be able to apply their own selection processes when hiring teachers, he added.

The government-issued certification will serve as a basic threshold for teachers, and will serve as official proof that the person has passed a government-authorized exam process, Tang said.

Whether those who graduate with Chinese-language teaching majors will be able to automatically obtain a certificate from the government is still under discussion, he added.

Although National Taiwan Normal University is heading the project, it needs the help of other language centers to compile a set of regulations that would be accepted by all centers, Tang said.

The education ministry will re-evaluate the standards as soon as the language centers finish drafting them, Tang said.

The system is slated for completion no later than June, although "the earlier, the better," he added.

As Chinese language instruction becomes more popular in schools worldwide, the need for qualified teachers is also on the rise, according to recent studies.

According to CNA, Teng Shou-hsin (鄧守信), a former director of the graduate institute, said that the lack of a systematic certification method has made it difficult to ensure the quality of Chinese-language teachers.

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