Disney teaching Chinese children English
Mickey Mouse has taken something of a vacation from regular duties for a more philanthropic endeavor: teaching children to speak English at a new school owned by Walt Disney Co. in Shanghai, China.
Disney Co. claims the new establishments are not about extending its brand in the quickly growing country, but about teaching language skills to children who would best benefit from the lessons.
"We never saw this as an effort to teach the Disney brand and Disney characters," Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide, told The Wall Street Journal. "We set out to teach Chinese kids English."
From the larger-than-life Mickey statue in the foyer to speech classes taught by Lilo and Stitch, the school certainly stands apart from others of its ilk. Children who have a strong singing voice are awarded "magic tokens" that can be exchanged for "reward gifts" such as Disney pins, hats, and other paraphernalia on display in the lobby.
Students also get the chance to purchase Mickey themed book bags, CDs, flash-cards and bilingual books, many of which are only available outside of China.
Back at home, parents are given access to Disney's Internet "parent portal" that gives them access to the instructor's comments about their child's progress in class as well as recordings of the the class sessions.
Says li Ruchen, a parent of one of the students at the school, "We can't step into the class so it's a good way to understand what she learned."