According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the children's English training industry in China is currently valued at 60 billion yuan ($8.73 billion) and it will increase by 20 percent year on year on average between 2015 and 2020.
Many scholars express doubts about the importance of learning English in a country where the language is seldom used. They argue that it may be more effective to let a small group of people with proficient English deal with all affairs requiring the use of the language.
Studies show that it's more efficient to learn a foreign language, especially in its spoken form, at an early age. As for concerns over whether bilingual learning will hinder the ability to speak either language fluently, it depends on the methods of teaching and the amount of time devoted to each language.
From the perspective of social progress, it is inevitable for a country to evolve from a monolingual society to a multilingual one.
In order to improve the nation's overall language quality, people's ability to speak not only English, but other foreign languages as well, needs to be strengthened. This calls for elevating foreign language training to a national strategy. Moreover, efforts should be made to guarantee children's basic right to learn a foreign language. Otherwise, it will be the economic capacity of parents that determines children's proficiency of foreign languages, resulting in social inequality.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article originally published in Guangming Daily on August 13)