Mandarin classes for migrant workers set for July: labor official

Another round of Mandarin Chinese language classes designed for Filipino migrant workers to help them assimilate more quickly into their work environments. (NOWnews)

Taipei (CNA) – Another round of Mandarin Chinese language classes designed for Filipino migrant workers to help them assimilate more quickly into their work environments and upgrade their language skills will kick off in July in Taipei, an official at the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Labor Center-Taipei said on June 22.

The classes will begin on July 14 in Taipei’s Ugnayan Center and will be split into two sections comprising of “Mandarin 1” and “Mandarin 2” to cater to differences in the students’ levels of proficiency, said Dayang Dayang Sittie Kaushar G. Jaafar, deputy director of the MECO Labor Center-Taipei.

Classes for Mandarin 1 will teach daily words and conversation, including numbers, times, and places, in addition to teaching migrants how to read and write basic Chinese characters.

Mandarin 2 classes will include more characters and words at an intermediate level and involve more Mandarin conversation, she said.

To give the students more practice in speaking Mandarin, the classes will also get the students to do drama acting, Jaafar said.

“Upon the completion of the courses, we get the students to the stage to portray (act out) some roles and when they speak Mandarin, it’s very interesting and very fulfilling,” she said.

Both classes will run for 10 Sundays and accept about 50 students each.

They aim to help Filipino migrant workers assimilate into Taiwanese society and communicate better with their employers and fellow Taiwanese workmates, she said.

“If the (Filipino) workers are able to understand basic words and have a basic understanding of Mandarin, it would be a very good way of establishing a very good rapport with their supervisors,” Jaafar said.

Participation is limited to members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, a Philippine national government agency which protects and promotes the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers.

Registration for the classes starts on July 7, Jaafar said.

Citing the popularity of the classes, Jaafar said the program started in July 2014 and has been ongoing since then, with classes held four times a year and many people expressing their desire to learn Mandarin.

Students who have attended the courses often gain more benefits than just being able to communicate with their Taiwanese supervisors or colleagues, Jaafar said. Some of the migrants who had attended the program were able to find good jobs in the Philippines using the Mandarin they have learned.

“We have heard that some of them have landed a job in language centers. Some of them landed a job as translators, and one as a driver for tourist buses who are earning like 25,000 to 50,000 pesos (per month),” she said.

Meanwhile, other students whom she has also met have come back to Taiwan to serve as staff in local manpower agencies and translators for Filipinos in Taiwanese factories, Jaafar said.

They had made use of the course that they have attended, and after their contract in Taiwan finished, they were able to find jobs in the Philippines using their Mandarin skills.

That means the classes are very successful and commendable, she said.

To learn more about the class, those interested can check out the group’s website. The Ugnayan Center, where the classes are held, is located on the 5th Floor of No. 2, Section 1, Chung Shan North Road, Taipei City. It is close to Taipei Main Station MRT Exit M7.

According to Ministry of Labor statistics, there were 153,865 Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan as of the end of May. Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan remitted US$195.47 million back home from January to April, up US$22.24 million from the same period a year earlier, according to data from the central bank of the Philippines.

For all of 2018, they remitted a total of US$583.84 million back to their home country, the data showed. ●

By William Yen