Getting out of English classes in local school--seeking advice on 3rd graders

Background: we have two third graders who did Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grade in Taiwanese schools. We went back to US for 2nd grade, then we’ve returned in 3rd grade. We’re in Taipei at a huge community school.

Our kids’ school has 3 English classes/week, all taught by Taiwanese teachers, mostly in an ESL format. Of course, these classes are super annoying to our kids, who will make a lot of simple mistakes and also get marked off for things the text books does wrong (like capitalizing “french fries”).

So, we have worked out plan B, which is they stay in class for this semester, can do their own reading, but still have to fill out the course text and take the test. Next semester they will apply for an educational waiver 免修 but we’ll have to produce some sort of educational plan. Not a bad plan B…

That said, I find it super annoying we can’t get the waiver this semester. Apparently, these had to be filled out in May, and the academic affairs office 教務處 won’t budge. It may be 教育局 policy, and I am willing to go there if I need to. The counseling center also has some kind of 特教組長室.

Here are my questions:

  1. Any ideas on getting them out of the English class for this semester? I’m trying not to be the annoying parent, but I also don’t see this as being a big deal (“sure, transfer students can apply for the transfer after the deadline they weren’t around for”). Partly I can’t figure out why this is a challenge.
  2. Anyone have any experience with either educational waivers or creating an alternate study plan?

I’m trying not to make this a big deal. Partly, our kids are of course struggling because it’s a big change coming back.

We didn’t get a waiver, we just talked to the class teacher and explained how these classes were actually detrimental to our kid’s English ability. After kicking up a gentle fuss, she was allowed to sit at the back of the class and just do her own work / reading.

Your school may not be so flexible.

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Hi Nuit, thanks for the reply. Here the main teacher is agreeable, and the English teacher also seems agreeable, but in order to follow the rules they’ll still have to complete the booklet and take the tests.

We did end up getting a home schooling waiver for the English classes, but that came a year later. Our kid was able to sit out of the class before the waiver was in place. Again, this totally depends on your school - if they’re unable / unwilling to be flexible, then I can’t think there’s much you can do. In Hualien you can apply in this semester for a waiver starting after CNY (i.e. halfway through the school year). Your county may differ.

The tests, again I think she sat 3rd grade / 4th grade English tests, but nothing further. She didn’t get 100% in 3rd grade exam because she flunked part of the listening test - couldn’t decipher the American accent :cowboy_hat_face:.

That’s super helpful. It sounds like you’ve really been through this already.

It’s always hard to know when to seek more info, when to just go with what the school says, and when to make a big deal. In this case, we wouldn’t have gotten into the school if we hadn’t gotten outside info (on how foreigners apply), so I’m probably always a little too suspicious.

It sounds like our best bet will probably just to be to muddle through this semester and then to pursue the waiver (I hadn’t realized that it was to “home school” English either). Our kids might well not do great on parts, since it’s a lot of spelling. Thank you again for the help.

Just following up to explain more that happened. End of last week I tried to talk to Academic Affairs and they said “we’d already discussed it” (had had maybe a one minute conversation the day before where we got contact info for the English teacher) and said we could talk to counseling department, who handles waivers, or Education Department. I talked to Education Department and they are helping with this some and communication with the counseling department 輔導室, who does the waivers.

Some random thoughts:

  • I always wish that there was someone in the Taipei DOE who had really awesome English and could help remediate this stuff. I often read on Forumosa about people who get help with labor department, immigration, tax department, etc. Ironically, there doesn’t seem to be anyone in DOE that does this. There probably are folk at the three schools that have some CSL, but I also have the sense they have pretty steady turnover.

  • I think either our specific school (because it’s downtown and there’s more division of labor) or education policy in general has gotten stricter. I feel like I’ve met a lot of folk before where their kid just went and read in the library, and I never had the sense that forms and registration was involved in this process.

  • With the waiver, there’s also an educational plan you have to file. They gave us a sample, ironically for a fourth grader studying English.

  • If I sound intense here, I’m trying to be super friendly in person. I understand that in a huge school admin are reluctant to spend any time on individual cases or create exceptions. I’ve tried to praise all the classroom teachers, the English teacher, etc. I’m annoyed that the compromise is “your kid can read during class but must complete all homework and tests and you can fill out the form for next semester.” I brought over 2nd grade English report cards (suggested by DOE); I’m hoping that this might “replace” the tests and demonstrate native speaker competency. Fingers crossed…