|Type||Subsidiary of Disney Publishing Worldwide (Disney)|
|Headquarters||Shanghai, China & Glendale, California|
|Key people||Gary Rosen, General Manager of Disney English and Chief Marketing Officer, The Walt Disney Company, Greater China|
|Parent||The Walt Disney Company|
Disney English (迪士尼英语) is a subsidiary of Disney Publishing Worldwide that specializes in English language training for young learners, ages 2 to 12, in China using Disney characters. Classes use a curriculum put together by teaching professionals from China, Europe, and the United States. The program uses the "Disney Immersive Storytelling Approach" which creates an immersive environment incorporating Disney characters to make learning more fun for children.
The first Disney-operated learning center opened in Shanghai, China in October 2008. As of November 2012, there are 44 Disney English Learning Centers in 10 cities across China. By 2015, Disney plans to expand the program to 148 schools teaching 150,000 children annually with operating earnings expected to surpass $100 million.
Disney English uses an immersive environment approach that focuses on the claims of Multiple Intelligences and Experiential learning while focusing on communication. The program incorporates singing, interactive games, role-play and other activities aiming to engage children with the language. Classes average only 12 with a maximum of 15 and are given 1.5 to 2 hours per week. The program costs about 12,000 yuan for 96 hours of instruction.
In 2009 former associate publisher Lynn Waggoner moved to the west coast to run the creative team which makes the content and curriculum used in Disney English's schools. An advisory panel of 19 international educators and early childhood experts to the program include Dr. Jun Liu, head of the English Department at the University of Arizona; Dr. Renee Cherow-O'leary, Professor, English Education, Teacher's College, Columbia University; Dr. Peiya Gu, Professor of English at Soochow University (Suzhou); and Dr. Dilin Liu, Professor of English and Coordinator of the TESOL/Applied Linguistics Program at University of Alabama.
Each classroom is equipped with an interactive whiteboard, an additional projection wall, and a sound system. A typical center will have 5 to 10 classrooms, each themed with a specific Disney property, for example: Snow White, The Lion King, Cars, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Winnie The Pooh, and Toy Story.
The first center, located on Maoming Road in Shanghai, China, was opened in September 2008 and relocated to Henan Road in 2012.
As of November 2012, there are a total of 44 Disney English centers in 10 cities across China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing, Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou.
The opening of additional learning centers coincides with the development of the Shanghai Disneyland Park. The entry into the English teaching market is expected to provide Disney with additional growth opportunities.
With the launch of the Disney owned program, several unauthorized schools using the Disney name or characters have been closed.
The company foresees continued rapid expansion: teaching 150,000 children by 2015. Russell Hampton, during his time as president of Disney Publishing Worldwide, anticipated operating earnings of over $100M in the next five years. In those five years Disney English expects to have gone from 11 schools to 148 schools across China with Shanghai Disneyland to be opened in 2014.
The program has been criticized as an effort to market Disney in China. "US entertainment giant Disney saw this as a unique opportunity to teach English to small children, while at the same time establishing an extention [sic] of its branded products and characters across the country."
- Shang Yang, chairman of Shangyang Enterprise Management Consulting has stated that "They're [Disney] starting years early, brainwashing Chinese children and cultivating them as potential clients in a very indirect, yet penetrating fashion."
- Mary Bergstrom, founder of Bergstrom Group, a Shanghai Consultancy stated "What Disney is doing now in China is growing a future consumer base."
- As Wang Bing, an analyst at Philip Securities Research in Shanghai puts it, "Being surrounded by all sorts of Disney products and characters, it's almost impossible for parents and their children not to love Disney."
Andy Mooney, Disney's chairman of Disney Consumer Products, has responded to critics stating that "We never saw this as an effort to teach the Disney brand and Disney characters" and that Disney has "set out to teach Chinese kids English."
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|M-I-C-K-E-Y Teaches China to Speak English, Love Disney, Bloomberg|