Taiwan ramping up efforts to recruit foreign English teachers

Taiwan escalating efforts to attract foreign English teachers to make Taiwan a bilingual country by 2030

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(Photo from OnaDateWithAsia)

(Photo from OnaDateWithAsia)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan is intensifying its efforts to attract foreign English teachers in anticipation of greatly increased demand as the government continues to strive to reach the goals set out in its "bilingual country" policy.

To achieve former Premier William Lai's (賴清德) plan to make Taiwan a Chinese-English bilingual country by the year 2030, the Ministry of Education (MOE) is planning to train 5,000 elementary and junior high school English teachers by 2030. The MOE estimates that 2,000 teachers should complete training by 2022.

In addition to stepping up the promotion of "all-English teacher training" to train bilingual teachers, the government is also considering relaxing the requirements for overseas compatriots and foreign college graduates to teach in elementary schools and junior high schools, reported CNA.

In March of last year, the MOE amended the Senior High School Education Act (高級中等教育法) to enable overseas compatriots, foreign students, and Hong Kong and Macau students who have completed teacher training courses to participate in teaching qualification examinations.

Lee Yu-chuan (李毓娟), an MOE official, told CNA that four Malaysian students took the teacher qualification examinations in Taiwan for the first time since the laws had been amended. Lee said that Malaysia's independent junior high school system has a long history, and overseas compatriots are encouraged to study in Taiwan and return to teach after obtaining a teacher's certificate.

If overseas compatriot student wants to teach in Taiwan, Lee said that they may teach in accordance with the "Regulations Governing Work Permits and Administration of Foreign Teachers in Educational Institutions at All Levels" (各級學校申請外國教師聘僱許可及管理辦法). If foreign students wish to teach in Taiwan, Lee said they may serve as teachers in various disciplines in colleges and universities, overseas compatriot schools, bilingual departments of experimental junior high schools, and bilingual schools.

However, in standard elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools, foreign students can only teach foreign language courses, said Lee.

When asked by CNA whether relaxing the regulations to allow more foreign teachers would squeeze the job market for locals, Lee said that teachers in elementary and junior high schools will still need a teaching certificate. This requires that they first complete their education courses, complete their internships, and pass their teacher certification examination in Taiwan before they can apply for teacher screening. "There is a certain threshold," said Lee.

Lee pointed out that the Executive Yuan last year proposed a draft of the New Economic Immigration Law (新經濟移民法), which called for the opening up to foreigners the teaching of all subjects in elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools. He said that the bill is currently under consideration by the Legislative Yuan.

New teachers must pass the advanced level of the General English Proficiency Test (GEPT) or receive a rating of at least B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) exam. The English teacher training courses will require at least 10 credits for completion, which will be included in the total credits for teacher training.

Lee said the demand for bilingual teachers will only continue to increase in the future. He said that there are already a dozen schools in Taipei City, New Taipei City, and Tainan City which all are promoting experimental bilingual courses.

He said there are also dozens of "bilingual education" vacancies in elementary schools in Taipei open to teachers with teaching certificates or teachers who have attained a certain level of English instruction.