Tuition fees are between £300 and £1200 a year for forty-five minute classes, and on top of that needs to be added the inevitable splurges on merchandising and software that it all drives towards. The fetishing of new learning technologies, especially interactive whiteboards, is pretty clear from the video. And a kid is not going to have a good time there without forming an emotional attachment to all the beloved characters. (whether a teen-Disney branded series of higher level English classes can or will appear remains to be seen)
From this article:
Studies commissioned by Disney estimate that the market for children’s English-language education in China is growing by 12% annually and will reach $3.7 billion by 2012. That may be too modest. Adele Mao, an analyst at OLP Global, a research and consulting firm, reckons the market is already nearly $6 billion a year and is growing by 20%.
The private education market is highly fragmented in China. New Oriental Education & Technology Group (EDU) in Beijing, the nation’s largest operator, had less than a 1 percent share in 2009, according to Merrill Lynch. New Oriental made about $64 million from children’s English training last year, up more than 35 percent from a year earlier, says President Louis Hsieh. He expects New Oriental’s English training program for kids to grow by at least 40 percent during the next couple of years. Learning English is “seen as an absolutely necessary skill to get a good-paying job,” he says.
[Aside: That final mantra is the one you hear the most often, in the most countries, and with reason. See, for example, the survey reported here in Publico stating that in Spain more than seventy per cent of advertised jobs in the category of ‘skilled labour’ name a command of English as a prerequisite for consideration.]
So Disney now has its foot firmly in the door of a booming market – centres in seven wealthy Chinese cities already. The production values of the recruitment video are predictably excellent, though it all looks less impressive through normal filters.
That’s the second time learning colours has been highlighted – I don’t quite see what this particular obsession is about. Obviously the idea is to make the language tactile, sensory, get it under children’s skin. It potentially makes any cartoon image a teaching aid, which is nice, and foregrounds a particular type of synthetically dyed, Chinese sweatshop-produced realia.
But the one thing the first video does perfectly is sell the teaching experience to all wannabe expats:
“There was someone waiting at the airport to pick me up, to check me into my hotel, and orient me in the city.”
“Within the first week they helped me get my cellphone, they put us in touch with different realtors…”
To be oriented in an Oriental city – every Westerner’s dream, it appears. As in Fight the Landlord:
After lunch he phoned the school he’d visited yesterday, and then another one, and then not the third. He wasn’t going to work at an international school, that much was clear now, at least, even if the day and the sky weren’t. Both of the women he spoke to seemed surprised he was already in Beijing. Because they had been – sat behind white wooden desks in rooms with wooden floors, beige paint on the plaster, clean sashes with jugs of flowers, not a million miles away from the apartment’s design scheme – the schools didn’t want people coming to them. They wanted to fly their staff over from England and meet them at the airport.