The Eye on Taiwan news staff
A Taiwan Fulbright alumni team will work with the Education Ministry to expand the influence of a US State Department’s supported program to broaden the scope of remedial English teaching in Taiwan.
The team, led by Sung Yao-ting, vice president of National Taiwan Normal University, was one of the winners of the 2017 US Department of State Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund. Only 68 alumni projects were selected out of 1,014 project submissions worldwide.
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It will cooperate with the ministry under the University Social Responsibility grant scheme to help improve the level of English competencies of junior high school students in remote areas in Taiwan, according to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents the US interests in the absence of formal ties.
“We are pleased to see the Taiwan alumni network growing stronger each year, and congratulate the PASSION-FB team on the successful completion of their project. It’s exciting to learn that this innovative program will continue with the support of the Ministry of Education,” said Eric Aldrich, AIT’s acting public diplomacy section chief.
In a press statement released on Tuesday, AIT said after winning the State Department’s grant, the Taiwan Fulbright alumni team completed its year-long Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) project “Reviving Low Achievers’ Learning by PASSION-FB,” which addressed the urban/rural English achievement gap in Taiwan.
The goal of the “Project of Adaptive Screening, Streaming, and Instruction for Omni-Directional Nurturing (PASSION)-Fulbright Program (FB)” was to improve English learning among low achieving students in rural areas.
It said Sung and his team used the “Diagnosis and Certification of English Competence” (DCEC) diagnostic tool to identify “level-zero” (low English competencies) seventh-grade students and provide them with weekly remedial English lessons taught by instructors trained by the AEIF alumni team. Three public middle schools in rural areas of Hualien (San Min Junior High School, Yu Dong Junior High School, and Mei Lun Junior High School) joined the program.
After year-long remedial English lessons designed by PASSION-FB, students’ post-DCEC test results showed that their vocabulary, listening, and grammar scores improved by 72%, 65%, and 53%, respectively. In addition, 90% of students reported a sense of achievement in English learning, and 85% of students said they were more motivated to learn English, AIT said.
Separately, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen honored outgoing AIT Director Kin Moy by awarding him the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon for his promotion of US-Taiwan substantive relations in the past three years.
Moy is to leave Taiwan in mid-July after serving a three-year tenure as the de facto US ambassador to Taiwan.
“On behalf of all of the men and women at AIT who serve with such distinction. I accept this award with pride,” he said, adding he and his AIT colleagues all believed expanding areas of cooperation between the two sides is the right thing to do for the American people and for the people of Taiwan.
He said he was “confident that our partnership with Taiwan will continue to prosper long, long after I am gone,” and that the US would remain supportive of Taiwan.
According to Central News Agency, Tsai congratulated Moy for achieving the three goals he set for himself three years ago — to cultivate positive bilateral relations between Taiwan and the U.S. based on mutual trust, to help Taiwan’s people realize that Taiwan has no better friend than the US, and to oversee the completion of the new AIT office complex in Neihu, Taipei.
“We hope that the strong momentum will continue to grow so that our countries can enjoy even deeper and more flourishing relations in the years to come,” she was quoted as saying by the CNA.
Also present included Moy’s wife, Kathy Chen, their son and daughter, as well as the Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chun, National Security Council Secretary-General David Lee, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and AIT Deputy Director Raymond Greene.
Moy will be succeeded by Brent Christensen who is expected to assume office in summer.