The fruit of bilingual education in elementary schools in Tainan was shared on a global stage for the first time! The Foreign Language Center at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) was invited to attend the 11th English as Lingua Franca International Conference (ELF11) held on July 4th at King’s College London and share their research report on the Content and Language Integrated Learning Project (CLIL) that had been installed in multiple local schools in Tainan a year ago. Participants of ELF11, who are all experts and scholars in this field, were astonished by the outcome of CLIL, applauding Tainan City’s effort and determination as a local government to promote English as the second official language in an environment that has been rather unfamiliar with English language historically and socio-culturally.
The research team at NCKU indicated that ELF11 is a prestigious conference that is widely acclaimed for its academic professionalism. This year, more than 300 scholars worldwide who specialize in linguistics participated and shared their research on foreign language education. To show their respect, the organizer of the event gave the research team at NCKU 90 minutes to present their findings of the CLIL program.
Kari Coffman Sahan, who is now pursuing her masters degree at Oxford University, stated after listening to NCKU’s presentation that CLIL is “a progressive experiment with surprisingly impressive achievements made within a year.” She hoped that scholars who work at the CLIL research center at Oxford University will be able to visit the island and interact with the teachers to see how the lessons are carried out in the future.
While presenting his report on the development of English as a communicative language in ASEAN countries, Andy Kirkpatrick, a professor at Griffith University, Australia, also mentioned CLIL’s progress in Tainan: “the bilingual education program currently going on in Tainan effectively motivates future generations to use English as a primary language in workplace, which should be set as the common goal for education in general.”
\Inmaculada Pineda Hernández, one of the chief coordinators of ELF11 and a professor at University of Malaga, Spain, gave several comments on the bilingual education program at Tainan, “this project should be continued because language learning requires long-term commitment in which a huge amount of time is spent to attain evident results.”
Tainan City Government has introduced the bilingual curriculum to 8 local elementary schools in which subjects such as science, mathematics, technology, arts, and physical education are taught entirely in English. To track the progress of the program, the city government cooperated with NCKU to conduct a research project that lasted for a year, comparing and analyzing the differences between teaching in Chinese and in English, the methods teachers apply in teaching, and how students are assessed regularly. The research team also paid attention to the attitude changes in students, parents, and foreign and local teachers, as well as how students improved in their speaking over time.
The city government congratulated Dr. Kao Shin-mei, Dr. Tsou Wen-li, and Dr. Fay Chen for the success of their presentation at London and indicated that the recognition they have gained from scholars has significant meanings. OEASOL expressed that the responses from professionals boosted their confidence, which assured them that they are doing the right thing; after all, Tainan has just made its first step towards an ambitious project that has been actively promoted in Europe for longer than 20 years.
The research team at NCKU will be hosting the 13th English as Lingua Franca International Conference in 2020, connecting the local community with the world and bringing in the voices of experts from different countries to Tainan. It is the majority’s wish that Tainan would have become a beacon in CLIL bilingual education by then.