Plan unveiled to make Taiwan bilingual by 2030

The Taiwanese government aims to make Taiwan bilingual by 2030. (Photo by Peerawat Jariyasombat)

TAIPEI: The Taiwanese government unveiled a plan on Thursday to improve English proficiency of the Taiwanese public, aiming to make the island bilingual by 2030.

Cabinet spokesman Kolas Yotaka told a press conference that the plan is aimed at enhancing Taiwan's international competitiveness as well as improving the public's English proficiency.

"If Taiwan's younger generations are to excel internationally, good communication skills in such an international language as English are indispensable," she said.

Taiwan last year ranked fifth in Asia in the Test of English for International Communication, known as TOEIC, trailing the Philippines, South Korea, Malaysia and China, but edging out Hong Kong and Japan.

The 2030 bilingual plan, which was proposed by the National Development Council, was approved by the cabinet earlier Thursday during its weekly meeting.

Kolas said that it is comprised of various measures with different timetables.

The most immediate one is to complete an online platform within three months to provide the general public with resources such as links to English-related websites of government agencies, language learning, language proficiency tests and video channels.

Another is to make government agencies' websites bilingual within a year. Other measures that must be completed by 2030 include official documents concerning foreigners, front-line personnel or public services, legal regulations related to foreigners, and license examinations of technical personnel. Civil servants must also improve their English ability.

Different government agencies are tasked with different duties. The Culture Ministry, for example, must establish a full English-language television channel and encourage the public broadcasting system to produce and broadcast English-language programmes.

The Education Ministry is responsible for cultivating more English speaking teachers, extending English-language education from grade three down to grade one, materialising the goal of teaching English classes in English and pushing for the teaching of other subjects in English.

Deputy Education Minister Fan Sun-lu said there are currently more than 13,000 elementary school teachers who can teach English classes in English and that the ministry hopes to add 2,000 more to the pool within the next four years.

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