China has expanded its role from a mere consumer market for English language education to an innovator and influencer on the global stage in the field, according to experts and educators from around the world at the 2019 Global English Education China Assembly, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
While the event from Friday to Sunday provides thousands of English teachers across China unprecedented access to more than 140 thought leaders from more than 20 countries and regions, the leaders have in return been impressed with the ideas generated from the market, where teaching English as a second language has been on regular school curricula for decades.
“English language teaching has been rolled out in such a large country where so many people are trying to learn the language. This is not commonly seen elsewhere,” said presidentelect of TESOL International Association Deborah J. Short on Thursday.
One of the main achievements spawned from the massive volume of learning is the invention and introduction of technologies that allow both independent learning and situations where people can learn online or facetoface with teachers, said Short, who has also worked as a language teacher and trainer.
Rod Ellis, a research professor at Curtin University’s School of Education in Australia, said mobile and various internet programs could be of immense help to learners outside the classroom where language learning traditionally lacks guidance but actually matters as much as in the classroom.
“When I talk to Chinese people, all those who have highlevel proficiency (in English speaking) don’t necessarily get it from the classroom. They got it from what they do outside the classroom, watching videos and using the internet to access learning materials,” Ellis said.
Li Aiyun, an English teacher from Nanjing, Jiangsu province, with 25 years of experience, said that the purpose of learning the language is moving from achieving higher scores in school to daily life applications.
English was officially included as a subject in the national college entrance examination beginning in 1984 by the Ministry of Education. It is estimated that today there are over 300 million people of all ages learning English in China, Xinhua News Agency reported.
According to consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan, the compound annual growth rate of the English language education market in China between 2013 and 2018 was around 19 percent. It will rise to 20 percent over the next five years, pushing the total market value to 365.9 billion yuan ($53.2 billion) by 2023.
An interview with Deborah Short: