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Teachers union urges rethink of Taiwan's Bilingual 2030 policy

University dean says Bilingual 2030 will 'turn Taiwan into a so-called bilingual country with poor bilingualism like Singapore'

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Teachers union urges rethink of Taiwan's Bilingual 2030 policy

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The National Federation of Teachers Unions (NFTU) on Monday (July 4) called for a reassessment of the Bilingual 2030 plan to address the many problems caused by the policy.

At a press conference on Monday, NFTU President Hou Chun-liang (侯俊良) pointed out that although the government on March 28 changed the name of the policy from “Bilingual Nation 2030” to “Bilingual 2030” and claimed, "Taiwan does not intend to become a bilingual country," the scheme's budget, resources, and much of its content remain intact.

Hou said that the impact of the bilingual policy on education from grades K-12 is still ongoing. He alleged that "bizarre and astonishing phenomena" are occurring at schools at all levels and that the NFTU is appealing to the Ministry of Education (MOE) and local governments to "not reduce education to a slogan" and conduct a thorough review of the policy.

Cheng Chi-yi (鄭祺怡), a teacher at Gong Jheng Elementary School in Yilan County, said the bilingual policy is like experimental education. Cheng said that as soon as the Bilingual Nation 2030 slogan came out "everyone had to rely on their own abilities."

Cheng pointed out that the K-12 Education Administration had launched a plan to expand the number of foreign teachers, and those foreign teachers are limited to teaching English classes together with Taiwanese instructors.

However, according to Cheng, the English abilities of the Taiwanese teachers are already sufficient, and including a foreign teacher is superfluous. Meanwhile, teachers of other subjects who need the assistance of foreign teachers to provide English instruction are left out, said Cheng.

Chen Chian-chou (陳建州), an English teacher at Taipei Municipal Ming Lun High School, said the introduction of English into other subjects results in teachers providing instruction in a non-native language and makes it more difficult for students to comprehend unfamiliar material. Chen suggested the solution is to greatly increase the number of professional English teachers and improve the quality of English education.

Liao Hsien-hao (廖咸浩), Dean of the National Taiwan University Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Science, claimed "the so-called 'bilingual policy' will turn Taiwan into a so-called 'bilingual country' will poor bilingualism like Singapore." Liao said that the reason is simple, the amount of time learning each language is not enough to reach the level of "native proficiency."

If the command of a language is crude, one cannot have the ability to think precisely, let alone creatively, said Liao. He warned that the serious impact of this policy on subject learning will fundamentally hinder the absorption of knowledge.

He predicted that the result of the policy will be a "lose-lose" situation. Students will have a poor command of both languages, greatly impaired learning and will be less competitive. Liao said that this would further exacerbate economic class differences and sow chaos in society.

Hou said that the policy and bilingual teaching have had a serious impact on the selection of teachers and the educational environment. He said there is a phenomenon that has arisen in which Chinese literature teachers now test in English instead of Chinese.

The NFTU president complained that the whole policy was promoted from the top down and rushed forward without sufficient resources. He alleged that education has become a "political tool" and teachers do not feel that the policy is respecting the education profession, which ultimately affects the quality of learning for the majority of students.