Disney English

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Disney English
Industry Educational
Founded 2008
Headquarters Shanghai, China & Glendale, California
Key people
William Lou, Executive Director of Disney English, The Walt Disney Company, Greater China
Owner The Walt Disney Company
Parent Disney Learning division
Disney Publishing Worldwide

(Disney Consumer Products)
Website disneyenglish.com

Disney English (迪士尼英语) is a subsidiary of Disney Publishing Worldwide' Disney Learning division that specializes in English language training for young learners, ages 2 to 12, in China using Disney characters.[1] Classes use a curriculum put together by teaching professionals from China, Europe, and the United States.[2] The program uses the "Disney Immersive Storytelling Approach" which creates an immersive environment incorporating Disney characters to make learning more fun for children.[3]

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.[4] By 2015, Disney plans to expand the program to 148 schools teaching 150,000 children annually with operating earnings expected to surpass $100 million.[1]

The program is designed to help extend Disney's brand in China through childhood marketing [5][6] and coincides with the development of the Shanghai Disneyland Park.


The program is not a Western program but rather a global program that gives children a chance to combine what they know locally with the opportunity to see things globally.

-Andrew Sugerman, former General Manager of Disney English

Disney English uses an immersive environment[3][7] approach that focuses on the claims of Multiple Intelligences and Experiential learning while focusing on communication.[8] The program incorporates singing, interactive games, role-play and other activities aiming to engage children with the language.[3][7] Classes average only 12[citation needed] with a maximum of 15[1] and are given 1.5 to 2 hours per week.[9] The program costs about 12,000 yuan for 96 hours of instruction.[1][2]

An advisory panel of 19 international educators and early childhood experts[3] to the program include Dr. Jun Liu, head of the English Department at the University of Arizona; Dr. Renee Cherow-O'leary,[10] Professor, English Education, Teacher's College, Columbia University[citation needed]; Dr. Peiya Gu,[10] Professor of English at Soochow University (Suzhou); and Dr. Dilin Liu,[10] Professor of English and Coordinator of the TESOL/Applied Linguistics Program at University of Alabama.

Classes are taught by native English speaking foreign trainers[10] and local bilingual assistant trainers. While teaching, Disney English's foreign trainers are trained in TEFL-C.[10]

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, Finding Nemo and Toy Story.[citation needed]


The outside of the first Disney English learning center on Mao Ming Road in Shanghai, China.

The first center, located on Maoming Road in Shanghai, China, was opened in September 2008 and relocated[citation needed] to Henan Road in 2012.

As of November 2016, there are a total of 27 Disney English centers in cities across China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Nanjing Shenzen and Guangzhou.[4]

The opening of additional learning centers coincides with the development of the Shanghai Disneyland Park.[11][12] The entry into the English teaching market is expected to provide Disney with additional growth opportunities.[13]

With the launch of the Disney owned program, several unauthorized schools using the Disney name or characters have been closed.[14]

In August 2014, Disney English was sued in an American court for subjecting workers and learners to highly polluted air in the classrooms. Disney English chose to settle out of court.[15]

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."[16] 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."[9][17] Mary Bergstrom, founder of Bergstrom Group, a Shanghai Consultancy stated "What Disney is doing now in China is growing a future consumer base."[17] 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."[17]


Disney English continues to operate less than 30 schools in China nationwide. Since opening in 2009, many English language schools have opened their doors or copied the Disney English teaching method across mainland China. Disney English Centers continue to operate strongly in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzen, and Chengdu.


  1. ^ a b c d "Mickey Mouse Teaches English In China". Forbes. 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  2. ^ a b F_221 (2010-08-16). "How Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse are explaining the intricacies of English - People's Daily Online". English.people.com.cn. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-02. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  4. ^ a b "Disney English Website". Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  5. ^ McLoughlin, Damien; Aaker, David A. (24 May 2010). Strategic Market Management: Global Perspectives. John Wiley and Sons. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-470-68975-2. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Institute, Worldwatch (11 January 2010). State of the world, 2010: transforming cultures : from consumerism to sustainability : a Worldwatch Institute report on progress toward a sustainable society. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-393-33726-6. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Disney English… Join the Adventure!". Happycatstefl.com. 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  9. ^ a b Michael Wei & Margaret Conley (June 9, 2011). "Some Chinese Kids' First English Word: Mickey". BusinessWeek (June 13–19, 2011): 24–25. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  11. ^ "Disney seeks 'cast members' to teach English in China". L.A. Biz. January 10, 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  12. ^ Jandt, Fred E. (2 February 2012). An Introduction to Intercultural Communication: Identities in a Global Community. SAGE. p. 291. ISBN 978-1-4129-9287-9. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  13. ^ Yu, Howard (January 21, 2012). "Rethinking strategy to escape commoditization". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "Bogus 'Disney' school told to refund parents". Shanghai Daily. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  15. ^ Superior court of California, County of Los Angeles, case number EC062969
  16. ^ "English as a Second Language". Umachaka.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  17. ^ a b c Michael Wei; Margaret Conley & Bloomberg Businessweek (2011-06-13). "Disney English: small world for Chinese students". SFGate. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 

External links[edit]

External video
M-I-C-K-E-Y Teaches China to Speak English, Love Disney, Bloomberg