The Office of English as the Second Official Language of Tainan City (OEASOL) will be cooperating with International Cultural Youth Exchange Taiwan (ICYE Taiwan) to recruit overseas Taiwanese volunteers to teach English at local schools. The volunteering project, which will be opening 20 spots to interested individuals, is expected to bolster bilingual education and help create an environment that encourages English speaking in Tainan as part of the city’s policy to make English the second official language. Being the first city in Taiwan to ever make such a move, Tainan City Government strives to enhance students’ English proficiency and establish a long-term cooperative relationship with overseas Taiwanese, especially young adults who are seeking opportunities to volunteer in Taiwan.
OEASOL held a press conference today (June 26th) explaining details about the volunteering project and the objectives of recruiting overseas Taiwanese volunteers. The project, according to OEASOL, is sponsored by Flomo Education Foundation and remarkable in that it is the first time that a city government invites Taiwanese who live abroad to aid the EASOL policy, which was first introduced to the public three years ago. It is possible that an official platform would be created to continue to offer volunteering opportunities for Taiwanese who live abroad, should the project be a successful one.
Multiple Taiwanese associations abroad have expressed their support of the EASOL policy through various ways. They are acutely aware of the importance of English usage, having been influenced by international environments where globalization is on the rise. OEASOL’s decision to recruit Taiwanese overseas is largely prompted by the significant progress made in the bilingual education curriculum at local primary schools and secondary schools -- specifically the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) program -- that has been implemented in several schools last year. A research team at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) suggested that the program, which integrates English in other academic subjects, has bore fruit; a research report on this matter will be shared in an international scholarly conference in London in July. With the assistance of 20 overseas Taiwanese volunteers whose native language is English, OEASOL hopes to make English-teaching and English-learning activities in local schools more creative, ultimately making English the second language for communication among students.
The recruitment of volunteers, managed mainly by ICYE Taiwan, will last a year. ICYE, a non-profit organization with links to different networks of volunteering and civil society organisations, was founded in 1949 and has its headquarters located in Germany. It has partnered with more than 40 countries and been a leader in cultural exchange projects around the world; there are, in fact, more than 1,200 youths who engage in long-term or short-term exchange activities annually. ICYE is excited to cooperate with a Taiwanese government agency for the first time. “We hope that this joint project would serve as a model for future platforms that would offer more opportunities to international volunteers,” said Kuo Chen-hsiu, the secretary general of ICYE. “Though the majority of Taiwanese students have started learning English young, they rarely use it in daily life. In creating a platform for volunteers to engage with local students, ICYE hopes that both sides develop a better understanding of foreign cultures and in turn prompt students to speak English confidently,” she added.
Theresa, a German volunteer under ICYE who currently teaches English at Kaiyuan Elementary School, stated that she has learned a lot from her experience and greatly improved her Chinese and calligraphy. “I hope more people come to volunteer in Taiwan, which I am definitely going to miss after I go back.” Anna, who comes from Austria and serves in Anping Junior High School, expressed that living with a host family for more than four months made her “understand not only Taiwanese culture but also myself.”
Several junior high schools in Tainan, such as Anping Junior High and Liujia Junior High, have cooperated with ICYE in the past. Though the improvement in English among students is evident under the lead of international volunteers who helped arranging the English-learning activities, other schools have hesitated to join due to the sophisticated application process and a lack of budget. Yu Chung-ming, the director of school affairs at Anping Junior High, stated that he appreciated the sponsorship from Flomo Education Foundation: “it makes everything more convenient and motivates more schools to do what we do.” Kuo Hsien-chang, principal of the same school, pointed out that it was difficult initially to find families who are willing to host foreign volunteers. “Parents now fight to be host families because they want their kids to practice speaking English at home with volunteers,” he said. There are currently 17 schools who are eager to join the volunteering project, including those that are located in rural areas such as Baihe and Cigu.
The volunteering project held by OEASOL and ICYE is open to individuals aged between 18 and 28 whose native language is English and who are passionate and creative about English teaching. One of their parents must have Taiwanese citizenship. ICYE Taiwan will be interviewing applicants online and match them with appropriate schools. Volunteers in this project either serve for 6 months or a year; the summer session begins in August 2018 whereas the winter session starts in February 2019. The maximum service hours per week will be 35 hours. Volunteers will be responsible for assisting school teachers in English teaching, organizing after-school activities, and interacting with students in English.
All participants will receive 3,800 NT as petty cash each month. Those who volunteer for a year will have 4 weeks of break in total and those who volunteer for 6 months 2 weeks; accomodation and meals will be provided by host families or dorms for free. Participants should be able to apply for local healthcare if they plan to stay for more than 6 months and have an alien resident certificate, which, along with flight tickets, application for visa, and relevant documents, are on participants’ own expense. Volunteers will also be participating in camps for training and receive a certificate of appreciation from Tainan City Government by the end of their service. OEASOL sincerely welcomes all Taiwanese young adults who live abroad to apply and experience local culture in Tainan. We need your help to enhance the English abilities of our next generation!
For more information, please visit the official website: https://www.icye.org.tw/?page_id=3995