English gets popular
In big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, students begin language studies at an average 5 years old
In big Chinese cities, students begin to learn English at age 5.
Chinese parents are urging their children to learn English at an early age, particularly those in big cities, a survey has found.
Believing that children from 3 to 5 years old are better at picking up languages, 88 percent of parents chose to send their children to study English before they were 5, according to a report released on Friday.
The survey, conducted by First Leap, an English language education institute for Chinese children aged from 2 to 15 under TAL Education Group, polled 1,500 parents from cities around China.
It found that parents in bigger and more developed cities are sending children to English classes earlier than peers in smaller and less developed places.
The average age for children in metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai to start learning English is 5, while children in the smaller cities begin doing so at an average age of 6.
“Bigger cities have a more globalized environment than smaller ones, so it’s easier for parents in such cities to realize the importance and feel the urge to learn English well,” said Wu Ying, general manager of First Leap.
Guo Wei, from Shanghai, started sending her daughter to English classes when the girl was only 3, as Guo believed “the earlier, the better”.
The 32-year-old housewife started learning English when she was 12.
“Society is different from what it was when I was a child,” she said. “You can see that most children today start learning the language from a very early age.”
The study also found that parents hold a strong belief that English is necessary and useful to a child’s future.
In addition, the analysis showed that what parents value the most when sending children to English language education institutes is whether they could acquire basic English language skills such as listening and speaking, and can use the language in daily life.
However, most parents have no idea what their children learned in class or how well they learned, Wu said.
“Chinese parents’ efforts to encourage children to study English usually stop after they send kids to tutorial classes and pay for the tuition,” he said.
“They need more feedback and better products to help children get the benefits of greater learning in daily life.”