The drive to increase the number of teachers is one of a range of policies introduced to meet the country’s needs, and follows the call by Prime Minister William Lai to make English ‘an official language.’
The programme will also involve recruiting and training 5,000 more Taiwanese English teachers and hiring some 4,600 new ‘foreign’ English teachers for its schools.
English courses in primary schools will be extended to three hours a week for grades three to six. There are no plans to lower the age at which English is started or to lift the ban on English medium preschool.
The Taipei Times reports that the government is also proposing to phase in compulsory English courses as part of all university degree programmes.
There are also plans to introduce compulsory spoken English tests as part of the university entrance exam within the next three years.
Mainland China is poised to implement such tests ‘in the next few years and Hong Kong has done so many years ago,’ Liu Meng-chi, College Director of the Entrance Exam Centre told the paper.
‘To maintain its international competitiveness, Taiwan must not fall behind in English proficiency,’ he added.