It’s official: English Teaching is a Mickey Mouse Job

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Disney English schools are not new, but I’ve refrained from commenting about them until now. And, to be perfectly honest, it’s hardly breaking news that TEFL is a Mickey Mouse endeavour for the most part.

Today, however, I stumbled across an article worth discussing over at SFGate (Now, SFGate, by the way, turns out to be part of the San Francisco Chronicle’s stable of online properties; not, rather disappointingly, a portal where I fully anticipated finding Richard Dean Anderson swashbuckling his way from page to page, looking perturbed-yet-handsomely-in-control by some kind of parallax anomoly in the space-time continuum vortex calibration field about to wreak untold havoc upon some innocent pre-Bronze Age culture… or some such. Alas.)

Anyway, Disney English is apparently doing a roaring trade if you’re to believe the PR that this “news” story is based on.

The article states that “Disney charges between 3,000 yuan and 12,000 yuan for the programs”. That’s not chump change in China. Okay, it doesn’t say how many classes are involved. Maybe it’s good value over a long period of time. The lessons are twice-weekly according to the article, but it doesn’t say for how many weeks. Whatever the case, it’s still not pocket money.

This, I thought, was an interesting reversal of roles:

Classes typically last 45 minutes and are taught by a native English-speaking “trainer” — certified in teaching English as a foreign language to children — and a Chinese- speaking assistant.

It did make me wonder what type of training the “trainers” receive. It could be perfectly legitimate, of course. Or it could be done by one of those, ahem, Mickey Mouse 21-day learn to teach English by the beach type providers. If I were a betting man…

mickey mouse tattoo

It’s clearly a good thing to be motivating the kids by getting them to play games with a PURPOSE (i.e. save the princess from the fire-breathing dragon or whatever) although I’m not convinced that vocab such as “defeat”, “defend” and “celebrate” are particularly high-frequency items that children need to know.

Here’s another link to the article

Do you know anything about these schools or have any first-hand experience with them? What do you think? Could they be a long-term winner? Leave a comment below…


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2 Responses to “It’s official: English Teaching is a Mickey Mouse Job”

  1. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    It's a really great idea, assuming that the program is hiring quality workers.

    This says loads about where China is going economically. I hope the West can keep up!

    (Also, it's nitpicky I know, but Chronical -> Chronicle)

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    •  Leslie says:

      Yeah, lots and lots of pundits agonising over China's short-term future and whether they're going to stumble.

      We all know the likely long-term outcome, of course; provided the Middle Kingdom can avoid the same mistakes their "economic-miracle" predecessors, Japan and Korea, both made, spiralling their respective economies into mired and lengthy recessions.

      China also looks on nervously at the US dollar and the massive cache of foreign currency equity they've got sitting there.

      Anyway, I don't want to turn this into a discussion of China's economic position, especially… (a) coz I'm far, far from an expert on the matter and (b) this post is about…

      "M-I-C… K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E!"

      Dang, what's Deng done? Mao’d be spittin’ not-french-fries!


      Re: Chronicle… Thanks. Good to have a proofreader around here. And a healthy degree of pedantry is always welcome! :smile:

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