Sun, Apr 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Low enrollment pushes school to reinvent itself

Staff writer, with CNA

Ming Tan Junior High School, which in 2016 faced closure due to its low enrollment rate, has been able to transform itself by combining local tourism with practical English-language teaching.

The remote junior-high school in Nantou County’s Yuchih Township (魚池) has experienced a low enrollment rate, similar to many schools in the nation, due to a sub-replacement birthrate and residents moving away.

However, although remote, Ming Tan Junior High School’s location — close to Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), a major tourist attraction — has become an asset in developing a hands-on, experience-based English teaching program for the school.

The school in 2015 began promoting an interactive English curriculum and hired foreign teachers, school director of academics Yeh Wen-fang (葉雯芳) said.

The first teachers were foreign-exchange students, so the local students were asked to present special aspects of the nation during their English classes, including Sun Moon Lake and Taiwan’s bubble milk tea.

Then in 2016, as the enrollment rate remained low, the school decided to apply for foreign teachers through the Ministry of Education to drastically upgrade its English-teaching capability.

These teachers would take students on field trips once a week to integrate the English-learning experience with real-life experiences.

From dressing up for Halloween to interacting with tourists at Sun Moon Lake, the students began to become more confident about their English-language ability and were more inclined to speak up.

The school is applying for more funding and programs from the ministry for the upcoming academic year so that it can continue to enhance its English education, school principal Lee Hui-fen (李慧芬) said.

Because of the community involvement that the school promotes, a number of lawmakers stepped in and petitioned for the school to stay open, with the result that, despite the school having only 20 students and 16 teachers and staff, it is to remain open.

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