TAL's expansion highlights China's shifting demographics
Updated: 2015-02-09 07:55
Related story: English-training companies brace for challenge by Shi Jing, China Daily
Chinese children learn English at a training center in Beijing. In China, only a small number of foreign organizations provide English training services for children, as the majority of them focus their business on providing English training courses for industry professionals. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]
Though there has been a steady growth in the number of English training centers in China, it has triggered intense competition within the industry as companies compete with each other to garner more customers and market share, sources said.
According to the Ministry of Education, about 300 million people in China took English learning courses in 2013. During the same period, the number of English training centers stood at 50,000 with a combined market value of 30 billion yuan ($4.88 billion).
According to the Shenzhen-based CIC Industry Research Center, the English training industry in China is dominated by training institutes or units set up by universities, foreign organizations and well-known domestic companies.
Among the three, domestic companies had the largest market share and the most diversified range of customers.
Most of the institutes focus on providing training services for senior/high school entrance examinations, college entrance examinations, graduate school examinations, International English Language Testing System or IELTS, Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL, and even professional training.
Foreign organizations, on the other hand, mostly provide English training courses for industry professionals. A small number of foreign organizations also provide English training services for children. College training centers provide very limited services, covering graduate school exam, IELTS and TOEFL, says Shen Zheyan, an analyst specializing in the culture industry with CIC.
However, with college entrance examination reform on cards, and places like Beijing, Jiangsu and Zhejiang allowing students to sit English tests twice each year and stressing more on speaking ability, domestic training organizations will be affected. Most of their business is focused on this area, with the New York Stock Exchange-listed New Oriental Education and Technology Group being the best example, Shen says.
"Their courses used to focus on skills needed to pass written examinations. Now they have to change the courses according to students' need, as the new exam stresses more on spoken English ability," he says.
With the proliferation of digital technologies, online English training will offer better prospects for companies, he said. With strong Internet technology support, online English training will have advantages like reducing the time and space barriers. "As online training becomes more mature, students can opt for more personalized services," says Shen.
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