Premier pushes for easing of preschool English education rules

2018/09/28 16:19:11 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) / CNA file photo

Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) / CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 28 (CNA) Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) has directed the Ministry of Education (MOE) to look at ways to ease regulations that currently ban English education at preschools, in an effort to start the process of transforming Taiwan into a country that speaks Chinese and English.

Lai issued the instruction during a meeting last week with officials from the MOE and National Development Council, Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka told CNA Thursday when asked about the premier's plan to make Taiwan a bilingual country, with English and Chinese as official languages.

Concrete proposals are expected to be presented in 2019.

Kolas said that during the meeting, which discussed how to best ensure the development of bilingual education in Taiwan, it was suggested that the earlier children start learning a language, the quicker they learn to use the language.

Lai later instructed the MOE to look at ways to relax regulations that prohibit English education at preschools, she said.

Currently, no teaching of foreign languages is allowed at preschools. Also, the Employment Service Act stipulates that foreign teachers can only teach at universities, colleges, high schools or cram schools, with few exceptions allowed.

Given the important role played by language in promoting national development, the premier also instructed the National Development Council (NDC) to lead the way in drafting policies to turn Taiwan into a bilingual country, Kolas added.

Meanwhile, NDC head Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) defined a "bilingual country" as one where most people can read, write, speak and understand English and Chinese.

With that goal in mind, Lai defined the promotion of a bilingual country as a short-term goal while pushing for the long-term goal of embracing English as a second official language, Chen told CNA.

She said the NDC will propose administrative plans or programs for the policy by the end of this year.

(By Ku Chuan and Elizabeth Hsu)

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