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Translated by Bing-sheng Lee

Scheduled for implementation in 2018, Taiwan’s new curriculum guidelines for its 12-year compulsory education will incorporate Southeast Asian languages into the required courses of local languages in elementary schools. Yet the plan isn’t meeting the teacher qualifications in the new guidelines with a lack of Southeast Asian language teachers.

Apple Daily reports, in December 2015, Wu Se-hwa, minister of education, pointed out that as more immigrants have come to Taiwan, the government has put an increasing amount of attention on the education of new immigrants. In the past, the education policy for new immigrants was designed to help them blend into the society. But now with the growing population of new immigrants and a more open-minded society, the government considers new immigrant cultures as an important asset of Taiwan and hopes the next generation can learn different cultures as they grow up.

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Wu also says that it is crucial for new residents to maintain and preserve their mother tongues. In addition to Hakka, Taiwanese and aboriginal languages, the Ministry of Education (MOE) plans to add Southeast Asian languages into the primary language courses in elementary schools.

CNA reports, according to the K-12 Education Administration, the demand for Vietnamese and Indonesian is the highest among the Southeast Asian languages, and currently the system has enough teachers. In the case of Vietnamese, MOE estimates that it needs 645 Vietnamese teachers for the entire country and now there are 1,569 people who are qualified for teaching the language in Taiwan.

The K-12 Education Administration says that Taiwan now has enough teachers for Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai and Burmese, but is significantly short of Cambodian, Filipino and Malaysian teachers. For instance, estimation shows that the country needs 109 teachers while there are only 48 Cambodian teachers available in the system. The outlooks of Filipino and Malaysian look even gloomier with merely a single-digit number of teachers facing the need of more than a hundred teachers.

Merit Times reports, the number of people who want to learn Southeast Asian languages has been growing. Yet they do not have many options and most of the places offering courses are located in Taipei. The supply is unable to meet the demand.

Chang Cheng, founder of Brilliant Time: Southeast Asia-themed Bookstore, says that the government can create more learning opportunities within the current educational system by opening more language courses in high schools and establishing new departments in colleges.

Outside of the system, the government can also subsidize private language institutions to open related courses. Another idea is that overseas Chinese, international students and new residents from Southeast Asia can all be candidates for teachers, offering people wishing to learn the languages a wider array of choices.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Central Daily News
Apple Daily
Merit Times