NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 21, 2010

China is full of booming consumer markets, from car sales growing at 50 per cent a year to top-end apartments that developers sell within days of putting them on the market.  But one of the most interesting is urban China's craze for the English language, says the Financial Times. 

According to industry analysts, there are as many as 30,000 organizations or companies that offer English lessons outside school in China and the market has nearly doubled in the last five years to around $3.5 billion. 

The proliferation of language schools says a lot about the ambitions of modern China, says the Times: 

  • For many individual Chinese, mastering English is a central part of their seemingly boundless aspirations, a tool to engage with the rest of the world in a way that their parents could never imagine and a path to a more interesting and lucrative career.
  • China's government, meanwhile, has made teaching English in primary schools one of its priorities - a reflection of its desire for China to play a much bigger role in the global economy.  

According to the British Council: 

  • The primary school emphasis on English means that there are 20 million new English speakers in the country each year.
  • More remarkably still, it estimated in a recent report that China may already have more English speakers than India.  

Source: Geoff Dyer, "English craze highlights Chinese ambitions," Financial Times, January 20, 2010. 

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