Chinese kids learn English from toons

August 4th, 2010 - 9:47 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 4 (IANS) Micky Mouse, AristoCats and other cartoon charecters have now got a new job — to teach kindergarten tiny tots in China how to speak English.
English learning centres run by the US-based cartoon movie maker Walt Disney Company are open for children between the age group of five and seven years.

A large number of children attend classes where they imitate American accent shown by characters such as the AristoCats, Mickey Mouse and Snow White, according to China Daily.

Walt Disney opened its first English language centre in Shanghai in 2008 and has since expanded to 14 such centres on the mainland. The classroom also include touch-screen boards, props, games and online media.

“When the words appear on the big screen, the teachers will say ‘Go’ and they will tell you what they want. When you reach for the correct object, the screen will say “You have won!” said Paul He, 5.

Disney has also plans to double the number of such schools in the country in a year. So far, Disney English has 10 centres in Shanghai and four in Beijing, with plans to expand the programme to China’s tier-two and tier-three cities.

“It’s been very positive both in terms of our enrolment figures and the responses we’ve heard from parents. We have enrolled several thousand since 2008 and are expecting triple digit growth into next year,” Sugerman said.

English standards in China have remained poor despite compulsory English education in schools. Most lessons are taught in Mandarin.

Yet, with China’s rapid economic development, there has been a drive for English-language education, especially in the big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.

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