The National Federation of Teachers Unions (NFTU) yesterday urged the government to thoroughly review its Bilingual 2030 policy, saying it has caused problems in elementary and high schools, and might affect the quality of education in other subjects.
The government on March 28 changed its original “Bilingual Nation 2030” plan to the “Bilingual 2030” plan, no longer aiming to turn Taiwan into a Mandarin-English bilingual nation by 2030, NFTU president Hou Chun-liang (侯俊良) told a news conference in Taipei.
Despite the change, the policy’s budget, resources and most of its content remain the same, causing unusual scenes on campuses, he said.
Cheng Chi-yi (鄭祺怡), a teacher at Gong Jheng Elementary School in Yilan County who has taught bilingual courses for two years, said the policy was adopted too quickly despite clearly insufficient preparation, including a lack of specific execution plans, evaluation criteria and clear teaching guidelines.
The policy does not consider difficulties in execution, such as many bilingual teachers finding it difficult to teach different subjects in English, Cheng said.
It also neglects the urban-rural education gap, as well as the negative effect on students who cannot understand courses presented in English and give up, she said.
In addition, the government’s Foreign English Teacher recruitment plan has deviated from its original purpose, Cheng said.
Teachers of bilingual courses who are most in need of assistance from foreign teachers lack such aid, while local English-language teachers who are capable of teaching English on their own are accompanied by foreign teachers, she said.
Taipei Municipal Ming Lun High School English teacher Chen Chian-chou (陳建州) said the policy has resulted in teachers of mathematics, music and physical education having to teach in a language they are not fluent in, sacrificing the quality of education.
Students’ English skills also fall in a bimodal distribution, meaning the policy affects the overall education of students who are not fluent in English, as they are required to learn unfamiliar subjects in an unfamiliar language, he said, adding that schools need more professional English-language teachers to offer better English education.
National Taiwan University Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Science Dean Liao Hsien-hao (廖咸浩) said people often link English skills with better competitive ability, but competitiveness should be based on having deep knowledge, decent thinking ability and creativity.
People need “native proficiency” to have the three abilities, so if Mandarin and English become equally important, students might not be proficient in either of the languages, which would impair their learning, he said.
Hou said the union urges the government to conduct a comprehensive review of the policy to solve the problems in classroom settings, and provide quality basic education and English learning.
Separately, the Ministry of Education yesterday said that it plans to recruit 77 US teaching assistants through the Foundation for Scholarly Exchanges next month to help with English-language education at elementary and junior-high schools.
The assistants are to facilitate spoken English instruction by helping create an environment that encourages English communication in the classroom and during extracurricular activities, the ministry said, adding that 70 US teachers were recruited last year through the foundation, also known as Fulbright Taiwan.
Additional reporting by Rachel Lin
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