Updated at 6.25pm:
Lawmakers support the lifting of a ban on foreigners teaching English at state schools in Taiwan, a senior official said on Monday, paving the way for the government to recruit hundreds of native English speakers.
The government hopes to hire 1,000 foreign teachers for the school year beginning in August, said Vice-Education Minister Fang Shiun-Lui.
‘‘The foreign teachers could assist our teachers or help train them to have better teaching skills,’’ Mr Fang said.
Taiwanese students are generally proficient in English reading and writing. But few can speak the language well, and many blame it on teachers who do not speak English fluently.
Officials have long complained that Taiwanese lag behind their Asian rivals, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, in English proficiency, and this hinders the island from becoming a regional financial and transportation hub.
Foreigners are currently banned from teaching any subject in state schools, but Fang said lawmakers have reached a consensus to lift the ban for English language teachers. Legislation must be passed to lift the ban.
The teachers would be sent to 700 elementary schools and 300 junior high schools, mainly in small cities and remote areas where English teachers are in short supply, she said.
Remote schools will also be given computers to allow English teaching through the Internet, she said.