English education in China

The April 15th, 2006 (p.59) print edition of the Economist ran and article, “English beginning to be spoken here: The Language Business in China.” In it Gordon Brown, Britain’s finance minister, is quoted as saying, “In two decades China’s English speakers will already outnumber native English speakers in the rest of the world. ” Interesting concept, even considering the questions it begs of what qualifies one as an “English speaker.”

China is the largest market for English language services, but the government is a little worried. There is no program equivalent to the Japanese JET program and until a few years ago language schools could be punished for hiring foreign English teachers. The government’s worry stems from the knowledge that with English and the industry that accompanies it comes “western ways of learning and thinking.”

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