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FACT SHEET on U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative
December 3, 2020

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Logo
American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Logo

U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative


As part of the U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on language education cooperation. The MOU is expected to help enhance and/or expand existing Mandarin and English language instruction opportunities in the United States and Taiwan. The MOU also encourages the exploration of opportunities for Mandarin and English language teachers and resources to be deployed to language programs at U.S. universities and Taiwan educational institutions, and facilitates greater exchange between U.S. and Taiwan institutions based on best practices.

Below are some examples of existing U.S.- and Taiwan-funded programs that provide either Mandarin or English language instruction that we seek to pursue greater cooperation on or expand. The most up-to-date version of this list can also be found on the Talent Circulation Alliance website at https://www.talentcirculationalliance.org/us-taiwan

List of U.S.-Sponsored Mandarin Language Programs

National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)

The U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program provides critical language study overseas for U.S. high school students through full, merit-based scholarships to participate in intensive summer and academic year programs. Participants study a language while immersed in the culture and day-to-day life of the host city. NSLI-Y is part of the National Security Language Initiative, a multi-agency U.S. government initiative launched in 2006 to improve Americans’ ability to engage with people from around the world. NSLI-Y plays an important role in preparing U.S. students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce, increasing American competitiveness, and contributing to national security. NSLI-Y participants also serve as citizen ambassadors, representing the diversity of the United States abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host location.


Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

The Gilman Scholarship Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is an undergraduate program for U.S. undergraduates of limited financial means to enable them to study abroad, thereby internationalizing their outlook and better preparing them to thrive in the global economy. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries or areas and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages (those deemed important to national security).


Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS)

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Students spend eight to ten weeks abroad studying one of 15 critical languages. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS, a program of the U.S. Department of State, is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. CLS plays an important role in preparing students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness.


The Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries and areas. The Fulbright Program provides participants from other countries and areas with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Taiwan participates in a number of Fulbright Program activities, which are administered by the Fulbright Commission in Taipei, also known as the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (FSE).

The Fulbright Student Program provides fellowships for U.S. and Taiwan students selected through open, merit-based competition, to pursue graduate study and conduct research in each location. The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program, an element of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, places recent U.S. college graduates at Taiwan schools where they serve as a resource to faculty and students in the field of English language and U.S. culture. The Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program places early-career teachers of English at U.S. colleges and universities to serve as teaching assistants for U.S. students studying Mandarin. FLTAs also take academic courses in English teaching pedagogy and U.S. studies, and return to their teaching role in their home institutions with improved English teaching skills and a deeper understanding of American values.

The Fulbright Scholar Program provides opportunities for U.S. scholars to lecture in Taiwan universities or conduct research in such fields as American government and politics, journalism, cross-strait studies, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) curriculum, while also offering research awards in the United States to Taiwan scholars in a variety of fields. The program also features an International Educational Administrator (IEA) category that supports short-term group exchanges for international education professionals from U.S. colleges/universities or non-profit exchange organizations to learn more about the Taiwan educational system.


Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program

The Fulbright FLTA program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange on Taiwan. Twenty to 30 FLTAs are offered work as Mandarin teaching assistants in the United States each year. In 2021, this number is expected to increase to 60, largely due to the suspension of the Fulbright programs in the PRC and Hong Kong, plus five additional FLTAs sponsored by MOFA.


Fulbright Master’s Degree Program—National Dong Hwa University Award in Ethnic Relations and Cultures

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides opportunities for U.S. students to pursue graduate study and/or conduct research on Taiwan. There are 15 Master’s Degree Program awards that are administered by the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (FSE). In August 2020, the FSE signed an agreement with National Dong Hwa University to establish the National Dong Hwa University Award in Ethnic Relations and Cultures. The program provides one U.S. student with the opportunity to study on Taiwan for a three-year master’s degree. This award is unique in that the recipient will spend the first year studying Mandarin to the level needed for the program, and then study ethnic relations and cultures in pursuit of a master’s degree. MOFA, National Dong Hwa University and the U.S. Department of State are joint sponsors of this program.


List of Taiwan-Sponsored Mandarin Language Programs and Resources

Sending Mandarin Language Teachers and Teaching Assistants Abroad

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has formulated regulations on financial aid for teachers and teaching assistants teaching Mandarin overseas, consisting of round-trip airfare, a monthly stipend, and a one-time teaching material allowance. Under this program, the U.S. host university pays for visa fees and health insurance and provides salary and accommodation. In 2019, the MOE sent 19 Mandarin teachers and 36 teaching assistants to the United States.


Taiwan’s Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL)

The MOE has been actively promoting TOCFL across the United States, and U.S. government recognition of TOCFL certification as an educational qualification. In 2019, 49 TOCFL rounds were held across the U.S., drawing a total of 2,114 candidates—a 15 percent increase from 2018. TOCFL has been adopted as an important reference in applications for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Taiwan Fellowship, the MOE Huayu Enrichment Scholarship, jobs that require Mandarin proficiency, and Taiwan’s universities and colleges.


MOE Huayu Enrichment Scholarship (HES)

The MOE established the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship program in 2005. HES recipients can study at one of Taiwan’s Mandarin learning centers affiliated to universities and accredited by the Ministry of Education for two, three, six, nine, or 12 months. Each student receives a monthly stipend of NT$25,000 (approximately US$830). In 2019, 925 people from all over the world received the HES, including 187 recipients from the United States.


Mandarin Teacher Training and Short-term Student Group Visits to Taiwan

The MOE offers subsidies for groups of foreigners who teach Mandarin in U.S. schools, colleges or universities to visit Taiwan for further professional training and observation. MOE subsidies are also available for groups of Mandarin students who wish to study on Taiwan. In 2019, one teacher group and five student groups came to Taiwan on these programs, totaling 143 people.

Global Ambassador Scholarship Program

Since 2010, the MOE has collaborated with the Taiwan-United States Sister Relations Alliance to establish the Global Ambassador Scholarship Program. Each year, around 55 students are given the opportunity to study Mandarin on Taiwan during summer break on a monthly stipend of NT$25,000 (approximately US$830).


Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program and Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan Program

In 2016, the MOE signed an MOU with the American Councils for International Education to establish the Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program and the Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan Program, which enable dedicated students of Mandarin to complete a year of academic study in eight weeks. Over the last five years, the number of students applying for the two programs per year has grown from nine to over 50.


List of U.S.-Sponsored English Language Programs

English Language Fellow Program (ELF)

The English Language Fellow Program sends talented, highly qualified American TESOL professionals (with Master’s degrees) on 10-month Fellowships to academic institutions and ministries of education overseas. English Language Fellows teach English, and also facilitate teacher-training, assist with curriculum and materials development, and conduct outreach. Host institutions are usually universities but can also be teacher-training centers, ministries of education, and other English language teaching institutions.


Virtual English Language Fellow Program (VELF)

The Virtual English Language Fellow Program launched on July 1, 2020. Regional English Language Officers (RELOs) and Posts can request Virtual English Language Fellows (VELFs) to do direct online teaching for a regularly scheduled class, conversation clubs, webinars for students or teachers, Facebook events, and other outreach events related to English language instruction or TESOL professional development.


English Language Specialist Program

The English Language Specialist Program recruits top-tier American educators in the field of TESOL to lead short-term English language education projects ranging from two weeks to three months—with the average length of two-four weeks. Specialist project proposals are accepted on a rolling basis, and must be submitted to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at least three months prior to the project start dates. Since 2007, over 80 countries or areas have hosted more than 1,000 English Language Specialists.


The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program

The ETA program is a component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program that provides fellowships to U.S. college graduates to teach English abroad for one academic year. ETAs are placed in 70 countries or areas annually to teach English in host country primary and secondary schools, and universities— the majority in underserved regions and schools.


American English Live Professional Development Program

The American English Live Professional Development Program is an online professional development program for teachers worldwide that is broadcast via Facebook Live. Presenters are U.S. TESOL professionals and topics cover a wide range of practical classroom ideas, up-to-date methodology, professional development, and introduction to resources. Participants attend both individually and in viewing sessions. Each session is recorded and made available on the American English for Educators Facebook page for those unable to view the session live.


Online Professional English Network (OPEN) Program

The Online Professional English Network (OPEN) Program (formerly the American English E-Teacher Program) is designed to improve the quality of overseas English language teaching with innovative distance learning technology. OPEN offers foreign English teaching professionals, learners, and other professionals the opportunity to take innovative online courses on a wide variety of topics for English teachers and learners. All course materials, including the courses themselves, are openly licensed, allowing teachers to use, revise, adapt, and share the materials with their educational communities. OPEN Program courses are offered periodically throughout the year through Canvas Network learning management system. They are either facilitated by TESOL university experts (Global Online Courses, GOCs), or self-directed (Massive Open Online Courses, MOOCs).


American English MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free online courses and are offered through University of California, Berkeley, and University of Pennsylvania. ECA/A/L offers a suite of MOOCs for a global audience of both learners and teachers of English. Course offerings include English Media Literacy, English for STEM, English for Business and Entrepreneurship, and English for Journalism, as well as TESOL Methodology and other pedagogical courses designed for teachers.

American English Website

The American English website is designed for English language teachers around the world and houses numerous resources, most of which are downloadable and all of which are free.