Ministry battles to find English teachers
Jul 13, 2005
By Mo Yan-chih STAFF REPORTER
The Ministry of Education's (MOE) program to recruit certified
foreign-language teachers failed to attract enough qualified applicants to teach
English in public elementary and secondary schools.
To solve this teacher shortage, the ministry is considering accepting
uncertified foreign teachers to teach English in Taiwan, according to Education
Minister Tu Cheng-sheng (???).
"Our goal to have at least one foreign English teacher in each of the
3,300 elementary and secondary schools has met with some difficulties. We are
discussing the possibility of recruiting foreigners with education degrees, but
who do not have teaching certificates, to serve as assistant English teachers,"
Tu made the remarks yesterday during a two-day visit to Matsu to examine
the local education system. At a meeting with local education officials and
school representatives, elementary school presidents expressed their concern
that schools in the area were suffering from a shortage of certified foreign
English teachers, despite their active participation in the ministry's teaching
Responding to the comments, Tu said that the foreign teacher shortage is a
problem shared by almost every elementary and secondary school in Taiwan. As
public elementary schools must expand their English-language courses from the
fifth grade to the third grade starting this fall, the insufficient number of
foreign English teachers could become a serious problem for elementary
"Currently, we have only 22 foreign English teachers recruited through the
program, even though we signed service contracts with countries including the
UK, Canada and Australia," Tu said. "The ministry is coming up with possible
solutions, including recruiting uncertified foreign teachers to assist certified
The program for improving the quality of English-language teaching through
recruitment of native speakers in elementary and junior high schools was
introduced in 2003. Currently, the ministry has signed contracts with Australia,
the Canadian Trade Office and the British Council to aid in recruiting teachers.
According to the program's guidelines, prospective language teachers must
be under 45, come from an English-speaking country and speak English as their
mother tongue. They must also have obtained Teaching English as a Second
Language certification (TESL) and possess a four-year degree from an accredited
With the a salary ranging from NT$60,000 to NT$90,000 (US$1,800 to
US$2,700) a month -- about double the wage of Taiwanese English teachers -- the
program costs the government about NT$510 million a year. The teaching contracts
last from one to three years.
The program was designed to hire 1,000 certified foreign teachers each
year, with the plan to send teachers to remote areas a priority.