USIA English Language Programs

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs


Report on Academic Specialist Visit to Taiwan:
June 10-18, 1999

Carol Sisco Cini, Nanjing University

About the Specialist

Carol Sisco Cini is a visiting lecturer at Nanjing University, Nanjing, P. R. China. She is beginning her third year there as a member of the Department of Applied Foreign Languages in the postgraduate College English Teacher Training Program. Prior to her appointment at Nanjing University, she worked for the United States Information Agency English Teaching Program as a teacher trainer in Hungary, Estonia, and Micronesia. Ms. Cini has also lived and taught in the United States, Germany, and Korea and has lectured in Thailand, Croatia, Hong Kong, Latvia, and Sweden. Ms. Cini received her BA in theater and art from the University of Houston in 1977, and her M.Ed. in ESL/EFL from Sam Houston State University in 1991.

Contact Information

Carol Sisco Cini
Visiting Lecturer- Teacher Trainer
Nanjing University Department of Applied Foreign Languages
Foreign Experts Building, 305
Nanjing, P. R. China 210093
Telephone: (86-25) 359-3111 ext. 3305
Fax: (86-25) 663-1701


Areas of Specialization

Teacher training, teaching and learning styles, multiple intelligences, and cooperative learning.


Trip Report

In September of the year 2001, Taiwan will be introducing English into elementary school grades four and five. This endeavor involves identifying and training a large number of new teachers. The Taiwanese Ministry of Education began the project with a call for prospective teachers and received an overwhelming response of 49,902 applicants. From these candidates, 3,536 were chosen to receive training this summer. They will be required to take 120 hours of methodology (teacher education) classes and 37 percent of them will also receive an additional 240 hours in language development classes. These prospective teachers will then be required to obtain further education credits for one year in order to qualify.

Conference and Workshops:

The next step, and the one which I became involved in, was the Ministry of Education Conference. The conference was attended by 140 university teachers and administrators who will be involved in training the new recruits. The purpose of the conference was to introduce these trainers to methods of teaching young learners. The trainers of trainers, including myself, overwhelming advocated communicative, student centered, methods of teaching.

The trainers were aware that in this global society students will need to be able to speak and think in English unlike in the past where emphasis was on grammar, translation, and reading. They saw that these teaching methods will help them achieve that goal. Of course no one method is a cure-all for English language teaching, and the teachers must now face the task of how to bridge the gap between the methods and techniques that are advantageous for teaching young learners, with the existing system of teaching and testing used in the upper grades.

In total, I presented to five groups of educators with an audience of approximately 295 teachers and teacher trainers. Besides the Conference, three additional sessions were held in various geographical areas of Taiwan. While the English levels and teaching experience of the teachers attending these workshops varied, the teachers were all open and receptive to communicative teaching methods. Because the task based approach was used (teachers participating in the actual classroom activities), the teachers were able to experience for themselves how communicative, student centered classes could be implemented. Many trainers and teachers assured me that they planned to take the methods that they were exposed to back into their classrooms and training sessions, thus causing a multiplying effect of my session.


I came away with three impressions, the first being the Ministry's insight into the fact that teachers would need to be given specialized training in the skills of teaching young learners. The second was the large number of applicants with a desire to work in the field of young learners. And thirdly, I was impressed with the high level of English of the trainers as well as the enthusiasm and commitment that they showed while attending the sessions.

I believe that the Ministry is moving in the right direction in English language education beginning with the selection and training of teachers. With this task underway, the administration will undoubtedly move on to curriculum, textbooks, and testing decisions.

Suggested Bibliography

Barker, M. 1985. Using children's literature to teach ESL to young learners. English Teaching Forum 33, 1, pp. 12-16.

Dunn, O. Developing English with young learners. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

Greenwood, J. Activity box. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Halliwell, S. Teaching English in the primary classroom. New York: Longman Publishing.

Hancock, M. Singing grammar. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hudelson, S. 1991. EFL teaching and children: A topic based approach. English Teaching Forum 29, 4.

Kagan, S. 1994. Cooperative learning. San Juan Capistrano, CA: Kagan Cooperative Learning.

Phillips, S. Young learners. New York: Oxford University Press.

Vale, D., and A. Feunteun. Teaching children English. New York: Cambridge University Press.



Electronic Resources

TESLK-12 (a branch of TESL-L) a discussion network for teachers of English to children in grades K-12. To join send the following message to LISTSERV@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU

SUBSCRIBE TESL-L yourfirstname yourlastname

Once you are subscribed to TESL-L, you can subscribe to TESLK-12 in the same way. You must be a subscriber to TESL-L to subscribe to TESLK-12.


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