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Professor Gu Yueguo Pro-Vice Chancellor of Beijing Foreign Studies University Member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. ELL in China: Past, Present and Future. GU Yueguo The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Beijing Foreign Studies University. 温故而知新

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Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

Professor Gu Yueguo Pro-Vice Chancellor of Beijing Foreign Studies UniversityMember of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Ell in china past present and future

ELL in China: Past, Present and Future

GU Yueguo

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Beijing Foreign Studies University

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign


One knows more by reviewing the past !

---- Confucius

Main headings
Main Headings

ELL in China: the Past (up to 1949)

ELL in China: the Present (1949-2009)

ELL in China: the Future

ELL: Some logistics

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign


ELL in China:

From Late Qin Dynasty to 1949

Provisions of education
Provisions of Education

Three systems were operating in parallel:

  • Traditional schools and colleges ( 书院, shuyuan)

  • New schools (学堂, xuetang), and universities

  • Missionary schools and universities

Traditional schools and colleges
Traditional Schools and Colleges

  • Classical curriculum;

  • Learning of Confucianism;

  • Civil servant examination;

  • Anti-Western learning;

  • Orthodox and wide popularity until the civil servant exam was abolished in the last few years of Qin Dynasty.

New schools and universities
New Schools and Universities

  • New schools, some coming from the reformed old-style traditional schools;

  • New universities (e.g. 京师大学堂, now Peking U,国立北洋大学, i.e. now Tianjing U.)

  • Supported by reform-minded officials;

  • English was the primary FL being taught;

  • In the early years, foreign language schools were set up to train interpreters and translators;

  • In the later schools and universities, FL was the compulsory subject.

Missionary schools and universities
Missionary Schools and Universities

  • Missionary schools: up to 1914, reaching about 4000; (charity)

  • Universities: about 13 or more;

  • English was the compulsory subject to be taught and learned;

The republic 1911 1949
The Republic (1911-1949)

  • New national curriculum: to produce citizens of a republic, not subjects of an emperor;

  • Traditional curriculum abolished;

  • Confucianism no longer taught;

  • Junior, senior middle schools and universities appeared

  • FL (EL the most important) was compulsory;

Look at with hindsight 1
Look at with hindsight -- 1

  • English was taught either from the outside, or from the top, but not from the bottom;

  • English had never been taught for the sake of the language, but remained instrumental to all the parties involved;

  • A fundamental change occurred to the status of English after the national curriculum reform in the late Qin and the early Republic. It became an academic subject to be learned, at least during the school or university years.

  • Individual learners were generally not motivated by themselves to learn English.

Look at with hindsight 2
Look at with hindsight -- 2

Tensions always had existed between:

  • Chinese and foreign;

  • Chinese learning and Western learning;

  • ELL at the primary and ELL at the secondary;

  • ELL at the junior and ELL at the senior;

  • English as both an academic subject and as an instructional medium.

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign


ELL in China:

From 1949 to the Present

An outline
An Outline

  • Chronically speaking: 1949 to 1966; 1966-1976; 1978- 2009

  • ELL in the primary and secondary education

  • ELL in the tertiary education

  • ELL and mass media

  • ELL and globalization

Chronically speaking
Chronically speaking

  • This period (1949-1966) witnessed

    • Primacy: English to Russian, and back to English;

  • The Great Cultural Revolution (1966-1976):

  • The period 1978 up to the present:

    • English as the primary FL well established;

    • This reflects the impact the political atmosphere has on FL in China.

Fl russian or english
FL (Russian or English)

In the early years of New China, national curriculum kept being revised over when FL should be taught:

  • Throughout the secondary education

  • Starting from Grade 3;

  • Only during the senior middle school;

English replacing russian
English Replacing Russian

  • NC (1959): Junior English back again

  • English for Primary Education (1962): experimental in good schools;

  • By 1963, English in practice replaced Russian as the most taught FL

Ell and foreign language schools
ELL and Foreign Language Schools

  • Foreign language schools: starting from 1958;

  • By 1965, there had been 14 foreign language schools.

Ell and teacher training
ELL and Teacher Training

  • NC (1978): from Grade 3 all the way to the Senior Middle School; in practice, only the Senior Middle;

  • Teacher training for JMS and SMS in 1983: the British Council Projects (personally involved)

The latest debate in chinese way
The latest debate (in Chinese way)

  • The junior vs. senior: more or less settled --- both;

  • Grade 3: depends on local conditions;

  • Pre-school children: should they start learning English? No authority has ever said yes. But the impetus is building up from the bottom, and reinforced by the invisible market force, particularly by the publishers, and profit-driven training programmes.

  • This triggers a question raised by some skeptics of whether it is worthwhile learning English in the first place.

Two general divides
Two General Divides

  • English as major

  • English as non-major --- now officially known as College English

English as major the latest trend
English as Major: the latest trend

  • In the past: English as Major == Language and literature;

  • Now English (as language) plus … appears as a general trend.

  • In other words, English is becoming an instructional medium.

  • Qualified staff is in big demand.

English as non major
English as Non-Major

Curriculum: debated for a decade:

  • Literacy vs. oracy;

  • Core English vs. ESP;

  • Two years or four years;

  • Are the time and efforts worthwhile?

  • Oversized classes --- what to do?

Ell and technology
ELL and Technology

  • English as Non-Major --- the majority of learners;

  • Shortage of qualified staff;

  • CALL: considered to be a viable supplement;

  • Nearly all colleges and universities are required to have some sort of CALL component in ELT

Ell and globalization
ELL and Globalization

  • Joint ventures;

  • Tourism

  • Overseas investments

  • International exchange programmes

  • All these create a massive demand for in-service training.

Studies overseas
Studies overseas

  • From 1982 to the early 1990’s --- selected and sent by the State authorities

  • Since 2000, students privately paid increased drastically;

  • The latest trend: senior middle school graduates choose to have college education abroad.

Test driven training
Test-driven training

  • Training for TOEFL and IELTS proves to be an inexhaustible market;

  • New Oriental is a well-known case;

  • The latest trend: college entrance exams such as SAT boom, which reflects the trend of SMS graduates going to college overseas.

Ell and mass media
ELL and Mass Media

  • Mass Media has always been considered to be the most cost-effective way to teach FL;

  • Popularization of English owes a great deal to mass media.

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign


ELL in China:

the Future


There are a wide range of factors, which can be grouped into two general groups:

Visible hand:

  • Government policies

  • National curriculum

  • National economy and GDP

    Invisible hand:

  • Market forces

  • Nationalism in joint ventures

  • International environment

  • Groups of interests (e.g. organizations, stakeholders)

Areas of tension
Areas of tension

  • EL in Pre-school

  • EL in primary education

  • The way EL is being taught and learned in secondary and tertiary educations

  • EL and its connection with job promotion and career

  • EL and nationalism in joint ventures (Korean being required in Korean joint ventures)

Fundamental changes
Fundamental changes

  • Individual space and resources privately owned have changed beyond imagination;

  • More and more individuals’ motivation for learning English becomes a matter of personal choice;

Intellectually speaking
Intellectually speaking

  • EL as an academic subject will remain carved in the curriculum;

  • EL as a window to the outside world will remain open to Chinese intellectuals for ever (e.g. access to academic works is wanted by every intellectual)

Chinese vs english in the global context
Chinese vs. /& English in the global context

The Chinese language

  • As a medium of social interaction (increasing steadily)

  • As a medium of academic works (very limited outside China)

  • As a medium of instruction (limited outside China)

  • As a medium of history (confined to a very few sinologists)

4 ell some logistics

4ELL: Some Logistics

Learners of english
Learners of English

  • According to a survey in 1999-2000, about 370 million learned English in one way another;

  • Junior and senior middle school students: about 80 million.

College english learners
College English Learners

Annual intake: 5 to 6 million,

Two years’ turn-over: 10 to 12 million;

The latest survey on fl preference
The latest survey on FL preference

  • English 88.98%

  • French 5.99%

  • Japanese 5.81%

  • Korean 3.08%

  • German 2.48%

  • Russian 2.06%

  • Spanish 1.74%

Ell and education
ELL and Education

National Curriculum for Middle School (1950) --- 3 (junior) 4 (senior), for 6 years, Russian or English

NCMS (1954, 1955), no FL for junior;

NCMS (1956), English replacing Russian becoming the first FL

NCMS (1957): English for both Junior and Senior

NCMS (1958): English for Senior only.

English was taught
English was taught

  • Robert Morrison (1807) arrived in China. According to his memoir, he was allowed to teach math and English.

  • Missionary schools, particularly schools for girls.

  • Two distinctive features:

    • The Biblical subjects

    • No fees paid, but even providing subsidies. (school of charity)

English as instructional language
English as instructional language

Curriculum: English literacy

English was learned
English was learned

京师同文馆(School of Combined Learning, Beijing 1862, Shanghai 1863, Guangzhou 1864),English was the first subject to be provided;

The first intake: 10; they were virtually bought to learn it by the government.

Schools for foreign affairs 1866 1898
Schools for Foreign Affairs(1866-1898)

There were 29 schools founded all over China, the primary objective of which was to teach foreign learning;

English was the most important of all foreign languages taught.

Grahame bilbow director of english british council china

Grahame Bilbow Director of EnglishBritish Council China


  • Qualitative research:

    • In-depth interviews, conducted face-to-face

    • Each interview up to 30 minutes long

    • 5 interviews with English language teachers, mix of schools/universities

    • 5 interviews with leading employers, HR Director level or equivalent, mix of national companies serving the domestic market only and those who are ‘going global’, range of sectors

    • Beijing and Shanghai, 13 – 22 April 2009

    • NOTE: care must be taken in interpretation of these qualitative results due to the small number of interviews


  • Quantitative research:

    • Face-to-face interviews

    • Each interview up to 20 minutes long

    • 200 interviews, 50 each with adult learners, potential adult learners, parents of young learners and parents of potential young learners

    • Chengdu and Qingdao, 18-19 April 2009

  • Comparisons also made with quantitative research conducted for the BC in 2007 by United Research China (URC) on English Language Teaching Market

    • 1,535 central location test interviews in six cities, 1-16 April 2007, adult learners and parents of young learners with ELT schools

    • 666 telephone interviews in six cities, 1 April – 9 May 2007, adults learners and parents of young learners

Desk research sources
Desk research sources

  • Report on English Language Teaching Market in China by United Research China, for the British Council, 2007

  • Social Survey Institute survey 2005

  • Online-education, September 2008 (

  • People’s Daily, May 2008 (

  • China Education Investment Institute, December 2008 (

A growing market
A growing market

  • Experts in 2005 predicted an annual growth rate of around 15% up to 2010

    • Based on China’s accession to the WTO, the 2008 Olympic Games and 2010 Shanghai Expo

    • (note: this was before the global economic downturn)

Data Source: Survey Results Published by Social Survey Institute of China, 2005

Elt dominated by private institutes
ELT dominated by private institutes

  • Social Survey Institute of China, 2005:

    • Approx 50,000 ELT institutes in China

  • China Education Investment, 2008:

    • Over 90% are private institutes

    • Universities act as an effective supplementary provider

    • Solely foreign invested and joint venture institutes positioned at high end

      • mainly concentrate on economically developed areas and cities open to the outside world, like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzen

Focus on large developed cities
Focus on large developed cities

  • China Education Investment, 2008:

    • Major markets for ELT in East China, North China and South China, particularly in large developed cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou

    • Demand increasing quickly, particularly in more developed coastal areas

Market dominated by adult learners
Market dominated by adult learners

The projection of English learner population between 7-45 yearsold in six surveyed cities, 2007:

Source: China Statistical Yearbooks, 2007

But growth among younger and older learners
But growth among younger and older learners

  • People’s Daily, 2008:

    • Approx 300 million ELT consumers

    • Mainly aged 20-40

    • Also growth at both ends of age spectrum – children and older people:

      • ELT for children began early 1990s, but still in its early stage

      • By end of 2007 there were 350 million children of school age – so huge market potential

      • Many pre-school training institutes established – eg EF Small Stars programme

      • Foreign invested institutes expanding in this area

      • Growth in older learners – particularly for some vocational English courses and high-end programmes which appeal to students in their 40s

Career advancement key driver of demand
Career advancement key driver of demand

  • People’s Daily, 2008 – key drivers of demand:

    • Improve English communications skills, particularly in work context, to expand social circle and improve career prospects

      • Focus on practical use of English through listening and speaking practice

      • Will become the main driving force of market demand in the future

    • Prepare for English tests for study abroad or enrolment in schools

      • Focus on test techniques rather than practical use of English (eg TOEFL, GRE, IELTS and CET 4/6 etc)

    • Get professional qualifications, eg oral interpretation certificates

      • Again, focus is on test techniques

Three main types programme in terms of cost
Three main types programme in terms of cost

  • High

  • Small % of market

    • Developed cities

    • Mainly foreign invested institutes (eg Wall Street)

    • Entry level = at least 6 programmes, costing around RMB20,000

    • Learners are high income, mainly white collar, mid/senior management

  • Low

    • Mainstream market

    • Mainly supplementary to school education

    • Learners are mainly students

    • One programme costs RMB 100 – 500

  • Medium

  • Mainstream market

    • Developed large and medium cities

    • One programme costs RMB 1,000 – 4,000

    • Each class hour costs RMB 20-50

Data Source: China Education Investment, 2008

Mainly traditional methods but online growing
Mainly traditional methods but online growing

  • Small Class

  • Mainly foreign teachers/text books

  • Focus on listening and speaking

  • 10-20 students per class

  • Online

    • Still at early stage, but showing fast growth

    • Low cost, cheap, flexible timetable

      Many online training providers now use Voice Interaction Technology so can provide a ‘face-to-face’ learning environment similar to a real classroom

  • Large Class

  • Using self-compiled or state-recognised text books

  • Local teachers

  • 30-50 students per class

  • Traditional teaching methods

  • Widely used in test preparation training

  • Computer-aided

    • Combines computer-aided programmes with lectures delivered by teachers

Data Source: China Education Investment, 2008

Some key players
Some key players

  • New Oriental School:

    • Founded 1993

    • 2006 New Oriental Education and Technology Group listed on NYSE

    • Services include English and other foreign language training, overseas and domestic test preparation courses, primary and secondary school education, educational content and software and online education

    • End of 2008 – 41 schools, 400 learning centres and 6 subsidiaries in 39 cities in China

    • Given 7 million training programmes

    • Test preparation courses are a particular strength – estimated that nearly 50% of Chinese students studying abroad took the NOS course

    • 2008 – opened 8 elite learning centres in Beijing – use multi-media software (DynEd) and aimed at professionals and elite entrepreneurs

Some key players1
Some key players

  • Wall Street Institute*:

    • Entered China in 2000

    • 15 training centres in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen

    • Focuses on ELT to adults

    • Mid/high end positioning

    • Programmes include Introduction to English, English Online and Premier English

    • Targets civil servants, managers, and university students

    • Has a Corporate English Training Department and over 300 corporate clients in China

      * Recently acquired by Pearson

Some key players2
Some key players

  • English First (EF) Education:

    • Entered China in 1996

    • 2000 – opened language schools in Guangzhou and Shanghai, now has schools in 54 cities

    • Adopts ‘Communicative’ method of English training – encourages students’ involvement through talking and listening

    • Major programmes include comprehensive English, teens/kids English, business English, practical English for overseas living/studying and IELTS

Will more study overseas in economic downturn
Will more study overseas in economic downturn?

  • China Education Investment & People’s Daily, 2008:

    • Depreciation of foreign currencies in global economic downturn reduces cost of study abroad

    • Speculation that this will result in more studying overseas

    • Especially as companies slim down work force and it becomes more important to strengthen personal skills

Increased propensity to learn esp among young
Increased propensity to learn, esp. among young

Do you think you/your child are more likely or less likely to learn English (outside school) than you were 6 months ago?

Don’t know 2%

Less likely

No real difference compared to 6 months ago

More likely

Base: All respondents, China (200), parent of potential learner (50), parent of current learner (50), adult potential learner (50), adult learner (50)

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

ELT schools are preferred method for parents

Is your child currently studying English in any of these ways?

Would you like your child to study English in any of these ways?

Preferred for child/ren

Child/ren currently use

At school

ELT school

Other kind of organisation

Personal teacher

for one-to-one tuition

Online training course

None of these

Base: All parents, China (113)

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

Group tuition preferred, but possible unmet demand for one-to-one tuition

In which of these ways, if any, would you prefer (your child) to learn English / are you/your child currently using to learn English (outside school)?


Used by current learners

Top mentions

Group or classroom tuition

‘Teach Yourself’ guides – text book

Online courses

‘Teach Yourself’ guides – audio/visual

One-to-one tuition

Base: Preferred - All respondents, China (200), Current – All adult learners/parents of current learner, China (100)

Uk elt would be considered esp by parents
UK ELT would be considered, esp. by parents one-to-one tuition

And, in the next 2-3 years, how likely is it that you/your child will study English at a UK English language learning institute, assuming one was based in your city?

Don’t know

Certain to

Certain not to

Very unlikely

Very likely

Fairly unlikely

Fairly likely

Base: All likely to study at an ELT Institute in the next 2-3 years, China (182) , adult learner (46), adult potential learner (39), parent of current learner (49), parent of potential learner (48)

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

Price = key obstacle one-to-one tuition

Why do you say you/your child would not study at a UK English language institute?

Top mentions

Too expensive

Learning US English more helpful

Learning a more general form of ‘international’ English more helpful

UK has an image of being old-fashioned/not innovative enough

Learning ‘local’ English more helpful

Don’t know

Base: All unlikely to study at a UK ELT in the next 2-3 years, China (30)

Majority would consider online learning few certain to
Majority would consider online learning; few certain to one-to-one tuition

How likely are you to consider learning English online in the next 2-3 years/choosing an online English learning course for your child?

Don’t know

Certain to

Certain not to

Very likely

Very unlikely

Fairly unlikely

Fairly likely

Base: All not currently learning English via an online course, China (195), adult learner (47), adult potential learner (50), parent of current learner (48), parent of potential learner (50)

Low access to elt courses at work
Low access to ELT courses at work one-to-one tuition

Does your company offer English language training courses for employees?

Don’t know

I am unemployed


Yes (8 out of 100)

I am a student


Base: All current/potential adult learners, China (100)

Type of english important especially to parents of potential learners
Type of English important, especially to parents of potential learners

How important or unimportant to you is the type of English learnt?

Don’t know 2%

Not important at all

Very important

Not very important

Fairly important

Base: All respondents, China (200), adult learner (50), adult potential learner (50), parent of current learner (50),

parent potential learner (50)

Us english most popular
US English most popular potential learners

Which if any of these different types of English would you choose to learn/for your child to learn?

Base: All respondents, China (200)

Overseas materials generally preferred
Overseas materials generally preferred potential learners

When it comes to materials for English language learning, do you generally

prefer those produced locally or by overseas organisations or do you have no preference?

Don’t know


No preference


Base: All respondents, China (200), adult learner (50), adult potential learner (50), parent of current learner (50), parent potential learner (50)

Uk materials the same or better than others
UK materials the same or better than others potential learners

Do you think that materials produced by UK organisations for English

language learning are generally better or worse than those from other

overseas organisations or are they about the same?

Don’t know



About the same

Base: All respondents, China (200), adult learner/adult potential learner (100), parent of current learner/parent of potential

learner (100)

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

Quality & ease of use are strengths potential learners

Why do you say that materials from UK organisations are better?

Better quality/more reliable

Clearer/easier to use

Prefer UK English

UK materials have a better reputation

Have a generally positive image of the UK

Base: All who think materials from UK organisations are better, China (62)

The market among english language teachers
The market among English language teachers* potential learners

* These findings are based on just 5 qualitative interviews, so are indicative only

Public sector tied to approved materials
Public sector tied to approved materials potential learners

Public sector schools and universities

  • Obliged to use the textbook compiled by the local Education Commission

  • E-courseware is tied to the text book

    • Eg textbook for West District is ‘New Starting Point’ and the E-courseware is provided by Golden Sun Company

  • Additional training exercises also used

    • Ideas coming from journals, newspaper, the Internet etc

    • Usually identified via word of mouth among teachers circles

    • Usage determined by English department of school

“I have no choice in the textbook, which is forced on us by the local Education Commission. Current textbooks are better than before, however, some key points still need to be highlighted and, as a result, I will prepare some additional materials…the E-courseware helps me prepare some games”

More choice of material in private sector
More choice of material in private sector potential learners

Private schools

  • Flexible to choose any material which suits their students’ needs

  • Tend to use textbooks produced overseas:

    • More ‘native’ in terms of thinking and expression of language

    • Better for those preparing to study abroad

    • Sourced from Foreign Language Bookstore, Hong Kong or original country’s publisher

“The materials from English speaking countries are more true to life than what we make”

Public sector textbooks of variable quality
Public sector textbooks of variable quality potential learners

  • Key challenge = quality of textbooks:

    • Accuracy - compiled and edited by local Chinese, resulting in ‘Chinglish’

    • Not geared towards practical application of English – not relevant to students or arouse their interests, cannot be applied in everyday life

“Fundamentally, the textbook we use is produced by Chinese…there are always cultural differences and we don’t have an English environment in which students can learn like native speakers”

“One frequent problem is that students understand the meaning of some words but find it hard to use in their life or other contexts besides in the textbook”

Need for interesting practical up to date material
Need for interesting, practical, up-to-date material potential learners

  • Interesting to students – relevant, able to stimulate interest

  • Practically-oriented – can easily be applied in students’ real life

  • More video/audio materials

    • Particularly if can be downloaded from Internet – more up-to-date and flexible in terms of choice of topics

“How to stimulate students’ interest is a big issue. If the resources can resonate with students, they will be compelled to learn it on their own”

Need to constantly improve their own skills
Need to constantly improve their own skills potential learners

  • Teachers need to constantly improve their own skills:

    • Maintain their own skills with daily practice

    • Keep up-to-date with changes in current English usage

    • Keep ahead of their own students, particularly in higher level classes

“Nowadays, students get knowledge from many different channels and they can compare with the school curriculum, so teachers feel easily challenged if we are not familiar with the latest language trends and update ourselves”

Development opportunities felt to be limited
Development opportunities felt to be limited potential learners

  • Current opportunities felt to be very limited, though an number of examples mentioned:

    • Internal seminars – for teachers to share experiences

    • Discussion Forum organised by local Education Commissions – to go through text book and hot topics likely to be covered in exams

    • Subscriptions to English journals – eg English newspapers, China Daily

    • Exchange programmes with overseas universities

    • Some schools encourage teachers to study abroad – schools typically pay 50% of costs

    • Some private schools use external organisations to train teachers

Limited awareness of uk based organisations
Limited awareness of UK-based organisations potential learners

“I never heard of any UK-based organisation providing teaching resources, maybe there are many, but I am not aware of them”

  • British Council – high awareness of organisation, but no awareness of what it can offer teachers

  • BBC – high awareness; some university teachers use audio clips from its web site for class materials

  • Publishers – only aware of Longman. Dictionary well known

  • IELTS – high awareness. Seen as passport to study abroad

  • UK universities – Aware of Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, Warwick. Would search Times ranking of UK universities for others

  • Examining and assessment bodies, UK language schools, websites – no awareness

The market among leading employers
The market among leading employers* potential learners

* These findings are based on just 5 qualitative interviews, so are indicative only

English is a must have for new recruits
English is a ‘must-have’ for new recruits potential learners

  • English seen as a ‘must-have’ qualification, regardless of sector

    • CET 4 and 6 are basic requirements. For some CET 6 is the minimum requirement for a new employee

    • IELTS, GRE, GMAT and other English certificates not required, but a high score will help potential employees stand out from the crowd

    • Potential employees also need to pass English written and oral tests, designed and administered internally

    • For jobs which require more regular contact with foreigners, only graduates with an English major will be considered

“My company attaches a high importance to English. We use a very strict process to screen their English ability. It is an important criterion which will show their ability”

But on going elt often not offered to staff
But on-going ELT often not offered to staff potential learners

  • Many do not provide on-going English training or assessment for their staff*

    • Because recruitment process screens for suitable skill level

    • Working language internally is Chinese

    • Training can conflict with workload commitments

    • Overall performance seen as more important

“English is not the only way to demonstrate one’s ability; if it was, we would recruit all employees with an English major…they all pass examinations so we believe that they do not have any problem to use English in their job. We review their performance, but not their English”

“In general, a day release course will last for 1-3 months, and it means the staff cannot work during that period.”

* Confirmed by quantitative research, just one in ten learners/potential learners in employment said their company offered such training

Limited awareness of uk based organisations1
Limited awareness of UK-based organisations potential learners

  • Only two mentioned as possible UK providers:

    • EF:

      • Felt to be well known in the English training market for general public

    • British Council:

      • Seen as providing opportunities for company employees to study for an MBA in the UK

      • Such MBAs felt to be useful way of improving English performance

“I know very little about the UK-based English training organisations…was it EF that is from the UK? I guess so; it is a large enterprise providing training services. Also, one of my colleagues attended a programme held by the British Council. It seems that the British Council cooperates with UK universities to offer opportunities to leading national organisations only”

Future demand for more business english training
Future demand for more business English training potential learners

  • Economic crisis means training budgets dramatically cut in 2009

    • ELT not a priority

  • Longer term, companies want ELT to be combined with business or management-related skills

    • Work-related English training is more practical

    • English learnt at school/university is not geared to business English

    • English training combined with management or other business-related topics is deemed more efficient

      • Employees can improve professional skills and English skills at the same time

“TIP is not simply English training; it covers a lot of information besides spoken English, like management and EQ topics. With the training, our employees also develop their minds”

Summary implications
Summary & Implications potential learners

Summary implications1
Summary & Implications potential learners

  • Strong and growing market, particularly in main cities and more developed coastal areas, so good potential for UK providers

    • Especially as English increasingly seen as a ‘must have’ in the larger, outwardly facing companies

  • Currently, market dominated by adult learners, but strong growth in the young learners market, which offers huge market potential

    • Especially since teaching in the public sector still lags behind that available in private sector (in terms of practical application of skills and quality of learning materials)

  • Market seemingly unaffected by economic downturn; indeed some speculation that it may increase the importance of learning English as competition for jobs becomes more intense

Summary implications2
Summary & Implications potential learners

  • ELT institutions remain main way of learning English outside school

    • Huge number of such institutions of varying size, cost and quality

  • UK providers of ELT and learning materials have a good reputation

    • Associated with quality and high levels of credibility with potential employers

    • But, UK ELT also associated with high price (the flip side of quality?) – look for lower cost options to offer in addition higher cost/quality options?

    • Also interviews with teachers suggest UK organisations have a low profile in China, meaning there is a need to build this profile

    • Furthermore, US English preferred to UK English, which represents a potential obstacle

Summary implications3
Summary & Implications potential learners

  • Online learning still at an early stage, but growing force in the market, and therefore could represent an important opportunity for UK organisations

    • Particularly if Voice Interaction Technology can overcome some of downsides related to practising oral skills and interacting with others

  • In-company training still quite low, except in larger companies

  • In the short-term, limited opportunities for external organisations to help with in-company training, due to budget cuts

  • But in the medium/longer term, opportunities lie in a focus on:

    • Business English, combined English & business training, exchange/visit study programmes to organisations in the UK

Summary implications4
Summary & Implications potential learners

  • Key opportunities for UK organisations in terms of:

    • Materials design – more accurate English, with better feel for UK/US culture

    • Expanded online offer, with downloadable exercises from the internet geared to different language skills and different age groups/abilities

    • Teacher development activities

    • Provision of more opportunities for teachers to practise their English skills with native speakers and learn more about the culture

Summary implications5
Summary & Implications potential learners

  • But:

    • Other than in private schools, Education Commissions are often the dominant decision maker on what is used (text books and E-courseware)

    • Teachers have limited information on external providers and do not have time to proactively search for this information

  • Therefore UK providers need to:

    • Build closer relationships with local Education Commissions – eg in terms of help with compiling textbooks, E-courseware,

    • Provide downloadable resources for teachers

    • Raise the profile of UK providers and what they can do – regular E-newsletter to schools?

Joanna burke regional director british council china

Joanna Burke potential learnersRegional DirectorBritish Council China

The british council in china context and overview

The British Council in China: potential learners

context and overview

The british council in china
The British Council in China potential learners

  • First office in China opened in 1943. Re-opened in Beijing in 1979.

  • Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Beijing

  • Cultural and Education Section of the British Consulates-General in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing

  • British Council in Hong Kong (since 1948)

  • 450 full-time staff across China

The external environment in china
The external environment in China potential learners

  • One Country, two Systems

  • Growing international profile and national pride

  • Rapid urbanisation

  • Economic growth (still!)

  • Internet access and usage

  • Need for skills development

  • Crowded marketplace of international products and services (including education and culture)

  • Increased buying power of government at all levels

A diverse range of work
A diverse range of work potential learners

  • Creative and Knowledge Economy

  • Intercultural Dialogue

  • Climate Change

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

Market Penetration potential learners

Our china strategy
Our China Strategy potential learners

  • Making the most of new technologies

  • Working in more effective partnerships

    In order to:

  • Reach new urban audiences across China in new locations

  • Double the number of people in leadership positions and influencers we work with

  • Triple the number of young internationally minded people we reach

Our goals for english
Our goals for English potential learners

  • Ensure that every teacher and learner of English in China has access to quality language services from the UK

  • Increase the value to the UK of its share of the market for international education

  • Enhance the UK’s reputation as a source of expertise and a partner for skills development

  • Increase the UK’s contribution to international co-operation in research and innovation

English projects in china in 2009 policy makers

  • Engaging with a growing number of potential learnerspolicy-makers in China in order to support and strengthen English language learning and teaching policy and practice in China.

English projects in China in 2009 (policy-makers)

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

English projects in China in 2009 (teachers) potential learners

  • Engaging with approximately 100,000teachers of English throughout China through our Teaching English website (, teacher workshops, conferences and training courses in a range of cities.

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

English projects in China in 2009 (learners) potential learners

  • Engaging with up to 20 millionlearners of English through our English learning website (, mobile technology (eg Nokia) and newspapers (eg China Daily).

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

English: potential learnersAssessment


  • - Recognised by more than 6000 organisations;

  • - 265,130 candidates (32% increases compared to 2007)

  • - 31 centres across the country

  • Professional exams and other exams

  • - 70,000 candidates (22% increase )

  • - BULATS recognised by over 100 companies and organisations

Examinations ielts
Examinations: IELTS potential learners

Education marketing
Education Marketing potential learners

  • Summer School Programme

  • Campus presentations

  • Agent Conference

  • Agent Workshop

  • Media Tour to the UK

  • Mini Career Fair

  • Alumni Career Development Workshop

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

Other English projects in the region in 2009 potential learners

  • Continuing to manage the Peacekeeping English Project in China, a project designed to enhance the English language skills of Chinese peacekeeping staff around the world.

Professor gu yueguo pro vice chancellor of beijing foreign

Other English projects in the region in 2009 potential learners

  • Continuing to run our DPRK teacher education project, which involves collaboration with the North Korean Ministry of Education, and three of the country’s most prestigious universities.

Thank you
Thank You potential learners

India and china elt today 21 may 20091

India and China ELT Today potential learners21 May 2009