The price tag for English
Sending children to extracurricular English classes has become a fashion among middle-class parents in China, despite the fact that the weight of English scores needed for college entrance examinations is getting smaller. However, the price for the classes seems to be high for most average-income families. In Beijing, it usually costs about 10,000 yuan ($1,508) per year to attend an English school, which exceeded the whole year’s tuition of many public primary schools.
I don’t remember when learning English became such a luxurious choice. When I was a school kid, it didn’t cost as much. English education training organizations usually require a high gross margin to maintain daily operation.
But for average-income families, is it necessary to invest so much in only improving their child’s English?
In my opinion, one should think clearly about why they want their child to improve their English in addition to daily study. For families who have a very clear goal of sending children to study abroad, they are obliged to take extra lessons as a supplement, no mat- ter how expensive. I’m afraid that other families simply hold the obsession that they don’t want their child to lose at the starting line of study.
Starting English study early, especially in an oral aspect, is advantageous for children. Compared to adults, children can learn and imitate foreign language much easier. Learning a foreign language earlier helps them raise their sense of using a foreign language. So, in terms of listening and speaking, practicing with native speakers is important. For reading and writing, the only way to improve is a continued practice. If a parent has time to supervise children in strictly writing English diaries or reading English books, that will be enough for them to improve writing and reading.
For average-income families, taking extracurricular English classes should be done rationally. My advice is that choosing an extracurricular English session that can provide as much opportunity to speak with native English teachers may be more effective. We have many alternative ways to help children improve their English. Unlike 20 years ago, young parents nowadays are almost all well educated in English, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to give our children a little supervision.