[photopress:learning_English.jpg,full,alignright]Sumeet Chander writes: ‘The first campus talk I gave in China was at Fudan University, one of the premier universities in China. About 20% of the attendees could converse comfortably in English, which is more or less like average university students in India. I visited Fudan earlier this year and the percentage had increased to 30% — quite a noticeable increase in just eighteen months.’
This is an Indian business professional writing about the progress of English learning in China. Note that he is writing for the Indian Economic Times so that what he says has particular relevance in regards to outsourcing and is not biased towards China.
Amongst other points he makes are that according to a Horizonkey.com survey, 64% of the school students in eight major cities in China take extra classes in English. According to China’s state education department, more than 100 million students are learning English.
In Shanghai alone, children with conversational level of English account for 60% of the total 1.6 million students in primary and junior schools. Children in Shanghai begin to learn English at the age of eight, with some of them beginning to learn as early as six.
There is a 30 to 75% premium in salaries for English speaking employees compared to employees with similar skills but who only have Chinese language.
The chances of frequent promotions, as well as global travel opportunities, are much higher for English speaking employees. There is also a strong social aspiration to speaking in English. People who speak English are looked up to as those belonging to an elite class and are likely to have a social circle that consists of expatriates and overseas Chinese.
Most of the services-related growth that India has experienced has been driven by English speaking college graduates. Most of the Chinese students in the next ten years will be speaking the same language and will have had the same exposure to the global economy.
China is not going to be that far behind India when it comes to what we consider to be one of the core advantages of services sector in India. It will have a pretty large young population of English speaking people.
Sumeet Chander is China Country Manager, Evalueserve. He plainly has observed a major and important change in China.
Source: The Economic Times