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International students from Taiwan Tech visited Stella Maris Ursuline High School in Hualien for an inaugural face-to-face meeting between teachers and students participating in an online English course. Taiwan Tech Teacher Education Center professor Cathy Weng accompanied the crew of online teachers to their first in-person meeting with their students, sophomores in the accelerated indigenous education program who thus far had been meeting with their English tutors in a one-on-one online environment.
The popular distance teaching initiative directly supports the Taiwanese government’s Bilingual 2030 policy which aims to bolster the international competitiveness of Taiwanese graduates in an increasingly globalized world. Using digital resources and technologies to provide access to English language tutoring for students in remote areas also directly addresses concerns around equity in education.
Through participating in the i-Villages Plus program directed by the MoE, Taiwan Tech has assisted 16 educational institutions in remote areas across Taiwan and taught over 1,000 students since joining the program. Annually approximately 200 students from remote areas take the digital learner courses which offer classes each semester around various themes such as food, tourist attractions, festivities, hobbies, and more.
The Taiwan Tech digital learning instructor team consists entirely of international students from Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, USA, Kenya, and other countries. As English continues to be the most commonly spoken language across the world, the digital learning courses provide lessons taught exclusively in English as a means to provide students opportunities to engage with the language not only as an academic subject, bur rather as a means for authentic communication.
Taiwan Tech professor Cathy Weng states, “We hope to reduce regional education inequality in order to allow children of grandparent-led, single-parent, and socially-disadvantaged families to grow in warmth and affection.”