Tue, Mar 24, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Ministry helping schools that need English teachers

'VERY CONCERNED’ The ministry is considering the option of allowing schools in remote areas to share English teachers or jointly hire them starting next fall

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) said yesterday that the ministry’s plan to hire 3,400 part-time junior high and elementary school teachers would partly resolve a shortage of English teachers at schools in remote locations.

In response to questions from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee, Cheng said the ministry was “very concerned” about the shortage of English teachers at remote schools.

SHARING RESOURCES

Cheng said the ministry was also considering the option of allowing schools in those areas to share English-teaching staff or jointly hire English teachers for the next academic year.

Cheng’s remark followed a story published in the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday that said 948 remote schools lacked adequate staff to teach English despite the fact that there are approximately 6,000 licensed English teachers countrywide.

Meanwhile, Cheng said the ministry could also reconsider its requirement that children start learning English in third grade.

Although Cheng said the policy had been created after in-depth discussions with language experts, he said the ministry could re-evaluate the regulation.

UNDER PRESSURE

During the committee meeting, Chinese Nationalist Party Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) said the ministry should consider pushing back English classes to the fifth grade because children are already under pressure to develop their skills in both Mandarin and another language — Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Hakka or an Aboriginal language — at primary school.

“They are under too much pressure by having to learn [English] as well,” she said.

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