English gets pop­u­lar

In big cities like Bei­jing and Shang­hai, stu­dents be­gin lan­guage stud­ies at an av­er­age 5 years old

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO XINYING zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.”

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