Taiwan to include 7 Southeast Asian languages in basic education

The measure marks the first of its kind in the world, MOE said

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Taiwan to include 7 Southeast Asian languages in basic education (Photo/Ministry of Education)

Taiwan to include 7 Southeast Asian languages in basic education (Photo/Ministry of Education)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A total of seven Southeast Asian languages will be included in the curriculum of schools at primary and secondary education levels in Taiwan coming August, as part of the island’s effort to promote cultural diversity and inclusiveness.

The language training will be provided as mandatory courses once a week starting the first year at elementary schools. Students are allowed to select languages they prefer, including Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, Burmese, Cambodian, Malay, and Filipino. The courses will become elective for junior high and senior high school students, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) in a press conference on Tuesday (June 25).

The policy is implemented to accommodate the increasing number of descendants --estimated to be 153,987 -- of new immigrant families. Around 2,328 teachers will be put in place for the language program, reported Liberty Times.

While the program is aimed to equip Taiwan’s youngsters with more skills, it also seeks to acquaint them with Southeast Asian cultures. For example, students will learn about the cultural connotation associated with the hijab worn by Islamic women, said a teacher in the press event.

MOE is also teaming up with National Central University and Institute for Information Industry for the development of digital learning materials regarding the language program. This will allow for distance education and increase efficiency of learning, the report said.