[NSYSU News] President Tsai Ing-wen visits NSYSU bilingual campus

(Provided by Teaching and Learning Development and Resources Center) President Tsai, Ing-Wen, Mayor of Kaohsiung Chen, Chi-Mai, and Political Deputy Minister of Education Mon-Chi Lio visited NSYSU to see its bilingual campus environment, EMI (English as Medium of Instruction) teaching, EMI Teachers Community, students’ English-language exchange activities, and see how bilingual teaching works. President Tsai was particularly interested in students’ learning performance in English environment and interacted with the students in English joining the Si Wan English Club, showing how much importance she attaches to the effectiveness of bilingual teaching at NSYSU.

President Tsai participated in two classes taught in English: “Ethics in a Global Society” and “Calculus (II)”. The first course, taught by Assistant Professor of Si Wan College Brady Michael Jack, focused on discussing controversial social issues, principles of ethics, and evidence-based reasoning in social sciences through brainstorming to stimulate students’ critical thinking skills. The “Calculus (II)” is a required course for freshmen studying EMI programs at NSYSU. In the course feedback survey, the students mentioned that the course instructor, Professor Chun-Kong Law of the Department of Applied Mathematics, can clearly grasp the difficulties of students encountered in EMI courses and explain difficult terminology. A student said, “I like this kind of learning environment.”

President Tsai engaged in a conversation with the students of the Si Wan English Club and the Si Wan English Writing and Speaking Studio. In addition to asking students about their majors and reminding them that English language skills can help them grow their knowledge in different fields, President Tsai also recognized the effectiveness of English-language exchange activities in enhancing NSYSU students’ performance in the English learning environment. The students said they felt surprised at the opportunity to interact closely with the President and could feel the government really cares about bilingual education at NSYSU.

The EMI Teachers’ Community is also a development focus on NSYSU’s bilingual campus. Since the spring semester of the academic year 2020-2021, NSYSU has already held regular Community meetings every month for the third semester. The EMI Teachers’ Community, through lectures, workshops, thematic discussions, teaching demonstrations, observation, and discussion allows teachers to exchange and share their experiences teaching in English. This time, Dr. Becky Shih, a visiting scholar of the Department of Applied Mathematics, was invited to share effective strategies for upgrading one’s English proficiency as an EMI teacher. Dr. Becky Shih advised using a dictionary with word meanings explained in English to avoid misunderstandings. Finally, she recommended teachers drop their ego, grow and learn together with the students, and not be discouraged if they make mistakes in English in EMI classrooms. This can reduce teachers’ and students’ anxiety about EMI courses, stimulate their learning spirit, and build confidence and knowledge in EMI teaching and learning.

In a briefing on the current status of bilingual campus development, NSYSU Vice President for Academic Affairs Po-Chiao Lin emphasized that the number of bilingual courses and the number of students taking them have been increasing year by year. The number of undergraduate courses in the academic year 2020-2021 increased from 114 to 175 in the academic year 2021-2022, while the number of students taking them has increased from 4,587 to 7,207. The students also demonstrated a good level of English: in 2022, 22% of students of the second year and higher achieved the CEFR B2 level in English, which is not far from the 25% goal set by the Ministry of Education for 2024. Meanwhile, NSYSU raised its goal to 30% for students in the sophomore year and higher. Vice President Lin pointed out that in 2021, NSYSU started 3 EMI programs, which recruited a total of 70 students. In 2022, the number of EMI programs will increase to 7 and the admission quota to 205. The University focuses on its EMI course resources to stride towards the goal of achieving a bilingual campus by 2030.

Besides, in line with the Blueprint for Developing Taiwan into a Bilingual Nation by 2030, the University has established the Southern Regional Resource Center for Bilingual Education and started the English Language Teaching Assistant (ELTA) program. Director of NSYSU Institute of Education Hsueh-Hua Chuang pointed out that at present, the ELTA program has already been implemented in primary and junior high schools, achieving a 10% service ratio, hoping to achieve 50% coverage by 2030. She thanked the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Education for relaxing the regulations and allowing international students to teach at primary and junior high schools. “We want to make international students realize that they are not guests, but family members.” Director Chuang said that the ELTA program gives international students in Taiwan a sense of belonging in the multicultural environment of Taiwan.

(Edited by Public Affairs Division)