Mon, Jan 25, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Education ministry considering tougher English requirements

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Education Wu Ching-ji (吳清基) expressed support yesterday for the National Science Council’s (NSC) proposal to establish an listening-and-speaking proficiency threshold in English to university entrance requirements.

Wu told reporters on the sidelines of a national conference on nurturing Taiwanese professionals that universities could set their own gate-keeping standards, while students could try to pass the relevant proficiency tests by the time they graduate from high school.

RAISING STANDARDS

Wu said high school students did not care about speaking and listening proficiency because these categories have never been included in the official college entrance examinations, but university candidates should have a certain level of English listening and speaking ability.

The ministry has yet to decide which organization should be put in charge of administering the proficiency tests, Wu said.

NSC SUGGESTION

Wu was responding to a suggestion by National Science Council (NSC) Vice Minister Chang Wen-Chuang (張文昌) to test high school graduates’ proficiency in English listening and speaking in the college entrance examinations.

Chang said Taiwan was failing to produce people who could work anywhere in the world because students did not have enough exposure to different cultures and lacked competence in foreign languages competence, particularly in English.

Some university departments require applicants to have a certain level of English proficiency or an English-language interview.

More than 100 universities require their students to pass the high-intermediate level of the General English Proficiency Test — a proficiency test commissioned developed by the Language Training and Testing Center — before they graduate.

FOREIGN STUDY

In other news, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) promised yesterday to send 300 outstanding people in different fields to study at top universities or research institutes abroad every year. He said people selected for the program would receive a yearly stipend of between NT$1 million (US$31,000) and NT$1.5 million.

The government should also invite renown international experts, academics and Nobel Prize laureates to teach or conduct research in Taiwan for at least one year to “promote academic research and inspire Taiwanese students,” the premier said.

FOREIGN TEACHERS

The ministry also plans to recruit outstanding foreign teachers to teach at universities by offering them a pay scale that was “as handsome as possible.”

Wu Ching-chi said local universities had been unable to compete with their counterparts in China or Hong Kong because they did not have enough distinguished foreign professors.

“We are willing to pay as much as we can as long as we can recruit good talent,” he said.

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