At least half of the graduates from a select group of benchmark universities and colleges would possess bilingual skills by 2030, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Sunday.
The ministry plans to invest NT$1 billion (US$35.14 million) over this year and next year on a three-phase project to promote bilingual skills in higher education.
As part of the project, the ministry said that it would introduce a program in August to develop key universities and colleges.
To apply for the program, universities would need to teach at least 10 percent of graduate courses and 5 percent of undergraduate courses in English, the ministry said, adding that it would soon send invitations to public and private universities.
At least 20 public and private universities meet the requirement, sources said.
Taiwanese universities teach about 4.5 percent of their courses in English; the top universities teach 20 percent in English.
A survey conducted by British Council Taiwan and the ministry over the past two years showed that 17.1 percent of 12th-graders have a B2 level in English, as shown on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages scale — while 4.3 percent have a C level.
This shows that about one-fifth of 12th-graders could take courses taught in English and assist in promoting the “bilingualization” of higher education, the ministry said.
Nearly 7,000 full-time university instructors, or nearly 19 percent, could teach a course entirely in English, ministry data showed.
To quickly improve English proficiency among first-year students, the ministry said that it would invest in key universities, including adding 50 faculty positions at public universities, hiring more teaching assistants and transforming first-year English courses.
In 2024, in the second phase, three benchmark universities and 18 benchmark colleges would be selected from among the key schools, with the goal of having at least one-quarter of second-year undergraduates reach the B2 level or above in English, it said.
The ministry said that it hopes to have at least 20 percent of second-year undergraduates and first-year graduate students at the benchmark schools complete more than 20 percent of their 2024 coursework in English.
In 2030, in the third phase, the benchmark group would be expanded to six universities and 30 colleges, with the goal of having at least half of second-year undergraduates reach the B2 level or above in English, it said.
The ministry said that it hopes to have at least half of second-year undergraduates and half of all graduate students at the benchmark schools complete more than half of their 2030 coursework in English.
By 2030, at least half of the students graduating from benchmark schools would possess bilingual skills and it would be noted on their graduation certificate, the ministry added.
The survey showed that although one-fifth of 12th-graders have a B2 level in English, they did not show balanced performance in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
The 12th-graders’ reading and listening skills tested at the level needed to build a bilingual nation, but they performed far worse in speaking and writing, the survey results showed.
In English listening, 27.68 percent of 12th-graders had at least a B2 level, while 27.32 percent had at least a B2 level in reading, 19.81 percent in writing and 8.27 percent in speaking, survey data showed.
“Although students with a good level of English have little trouble reading textbooks or listening to a class lecture, many of them have difficulty writing a report or participating in a class discussion,” the ministry said.
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