English in China today
Date of Issue2012
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
According to a 2010 China Daily article, the number of English learners in China is now around 400 million, approximately one third of China's population (see also Wei and Su, this issue). The importance of English in the state education system has been supplemented by the rapid growth of privately-run language schools and training institutes across the country in recent years. The same article quoted a comment by Ms Xiao Yan, the public relations manager of the Wall Street English language school chain, who gave her explanation for the current popularity of English in the following terms: More and more importance has been given to English after China carried out the policy of reform and opening up to the outside world in the late 1970s. And accompanying China's rise on the world stage in recent years are growing connections of commerce and culture with other countries, especially those developed English-speaking countries […] The entire Chinese society attaches high importance to the English study as sometimes it even plays a vital role for a person who plans to pursue further education and seek a better career. There is no doubt that people who have a good command of English are more competitive than their peers. (China Daily, 2010a)
© 2012 Cambridge University Press (CUP). This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by English Today, Cambridge University Press (CUP). It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266078412000223].