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The Evolution of Bilingual Education: Key Takeaways from EMI Conference
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In response to the Bilingual 2030 national policy, the Ministry of Education (MOE) initiated the Program on Bilingual Education for Students in College (BEST) to significantly boost the implementation of English-medium instruction (EMI) across higher education institutions in Taiwan and nurture a new generation of bilingual professionals.

To this end, Political Deputy Minister of Education Monchi Lio, Department of Higher Education Director-General Chu Chun-chang, and Director-General Dr. Yang Yu-Huei of the Department of Technological and Vocational Education of the MOE jointly hosted the 5th National EMI Teaching Resource Center Conference at NTNU on February 24.

The event brought together representatives from EMI resource centers at universities including National Taiwan University, National Cheng Kung University, National Central University, National Sun Yat-sen University, National Chung Hsing University, and National Taiwan University of Science and Technology; as well as The Language Training & Testing Center, Fulbright Taiwan Foundation for Scholarly Exchange, the British Council, and the Taiwan Assessment and Evaluation Association (TWAEA).

NTNU has been instrumental in the development and expansion of bilingual education in Taiwan. President Wu Cheng-chi acknowledged the Ministry of Education's substantial support, which has accelerated NTNU's journey towards internationalization. He further noted that the university is open to sharing bilingual teaching resources developed to enhance the overall quality of education across universities in Taiwan.

Chief Executive Officer of NTNU’s Resource Center for EMI (RCEMI) Mei-Hui Liu delineated four areas of achievement at the RCEMI. “The center has forged collaborations with 14 colleges and universities, facilitating a network for interscholastic consultancy and mentorship, sharing NTNU's advancements in bilingual education, and cultivating a pool of professional teaching talent to expedite the process of locating qualified lecturers,” she said. “In EMI teacher empowerment training, the center has significantly enriched teachers' expertise and competencies in bilingual education through practical training sessions. Looking ahead, the center intends to introduce specialized teacher training courses and a certification process. To acquire this certification, participants will be required to complete a 6-hour demonstration of EMI.”

In terms of specific subject development for EMI, Professor Pei-Jen Lee Shaner of the NTNU School of Life Sciences at NTNU said, 'Students frequently attribute their academic difficulties to their lack of proficiency in English, but learning science through English is not the same as learning English.' In order to reduce students' frustration in taking EMI courses, she divides students of different English levels into the same group, rather than grouping them by English level. “Students are more likely to ask for help on the material if they are not concerned about their English proficiency,” she said.


Further innovations include the formation of interscholastic teacher communities that share EMI teaching experience and resources, as well as cross-registration and the pioneering of the nation's exclusive EMI teaching assistant training program. These initiatives place a strong emphasis on cultivating intercultural communication skills and integrating advanced AI technology to provide real-time feedback, thereby enhancing the teaching and learning experience. Additionally, professional development strategies have been implemented, grouping students of varying English proficiencies together in EMI courses to reduce potential frustration and optimize learning outcomes.

This event served as a platform for the exchange of ideas, experiences, and strategies aimed at advancing the quality and effectiveness of EMI education. Participants engaged in comprehensive discussions on a wide range of topics, including curriculum development, teacher training, and resource allocation, all with the aim of furthering the cause of bilingual education in Taiwan.

Looking ahead, plans are in place in 2024 to expand the scope of teacher training through collaboration with the American Institute in Taiwan. This will involve differentiated training options to cater to the diverse needs of teachers and leveraging AI technology to offer personalized oral training feedback. The ultimate aim is to foster an EMI teacher talent ecosystem that continually enhances the quality of bilingual education in Taiwan.

Following the presentations, RCEMI Deputy Executive Director Sonya Fan guided event guests on a tour of the center's facilities, along with its collaborative projects with the university's Teaching and Learning Development Center and Center for Academic Literacy. Visitors were brought to the RCEMI’s Project-Based Learning (PBL) classroom, where counselors from the Center for Academic Literacy were training in applications of AI technologies to enhance students' English-speaking skills. Visitors were invited to engage in AI-assisted English-speaking exercises via QR codes for a first-hand experience of the advantages of integrating technology into educational practices.

This interactive session demonstrated how participants could receive immediate, real-time feedback on their spoken English, identifying areas for improvement or proficiency. The Deputy-Minister and other guests expressed admiration for the AI's capability to provide tailored English language support. Deputy Executive Director Fan emphasized that the introduction of this system was driven by a desire to offer more customized practice opportunities for all EMI participants, including teachers, students, and teaching assistants. She highlighted the importance of such personalized support for facilitating autonomous learning outside of formal EMI settings, underscoring its essential role in the effective implementation of EMI programs.

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