Taiwan Premier considers English lessons in kindergarten

Government puts National Development Council in charge of English-language policies

Premier William Lai

Premier William Lai (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Amid his efforts to turn Taiwan into a bilingual country, Premier William Lai (賴清德) was considering ending the ban on teaching English in kindergarten, a government spokesperson said Friday.

Existing legislation bans both English-language education in kindergarten and the appointment of foreign teachers in the same schools, the Central News Agency reported.

As Lai has reportedly described English-language knowledge as a topic which exceeds the domain of education, he has assigned the National Development Council (NDC) to be in charge of bilingual policy promotion. An interdepartmental committee will draw up details as well as a timetable for the implementation of the policy.

The Ministry of Education last week presented a report about the issue to the premier, explaining how to let English-language education take root and which laws to amend, Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said.

As the meeting discussed that learning a language at the earliest age possible would bear the best results, Lai instructed the ministry to research the possibility of amending the existing ban on English education in kindergarten, she added.

According to NDC Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶), the aim of the bilingual policy was to have each citizen being able to understand, converse, read and write in Chinese and English, CAN reported. The bilingual country policy was a short-term aim, while adding English as an official language in Taiwan was a target for the long term.

By the end of the year, the NDC would come up with more concrete proposals, Minister Chen said.