English books for children remain a rarity in China’s public libraries, that’s why some parents have started to teach the language in their own way which involves the cheeky star of the Peppa Pig series.
A report by Quartz reveals the yearning of Chinese parents to make their children acquainted with English. There is an increase as well in the number of Chinese students that go to the U.S. for advanced schooling. As per the website, 330,000 students left China to pursue an American education.
For this reason, parents like Eddie Liu, a Guangzhou-based engineer, taught his son English before he could even say his first word. He plans to send his son, now 13, to an Ivy League school. Eddie doesn’t want his son to feel alienated because of language barrier. The boy’s current reading list includes J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
While China’s education gives students the chance to learn English, Eddie believes that the teaching method doesn’t make the kids comfortable using the language in social settings.
According to Scholastic Asia’s kid reporter, most kids in China take an English extracurricular activity on top of the formal classes which they have three times a week.
Some parents have established private English reading clubs to facilitate learning. The aims of the club include sharing meaningful English book titles, connecting to other parents, and providing tips on how to make kids learn English in a highly-engaging way.
“For many Chinese children, reading and speaking are the core English abilities but many aren’t provided the language environment,” Lynn Huang shares to Quartz. She is the founder of JoYoKids, a book club in Shanghai that takes pride in its more than 17,000 English books.
Her son inspired her to put up the club in 2014. As a parent who also dreams to send her son overseas to study, she started buying English books whenever she travels abroad. JoYoKids now has 1,500 members. Parents have to pay 300 yuan (about $45) for a three-month subscription that allows them to borrow five books at a time.
Peppa Pig remains a popular title which features a porcine character who goes on different adventures. The club’s goal is for a child to finish Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which contains about 50,000 words.
She is hopeful that in a few years’ time, one in every five books in China’s children’s bookstores is penned in English.
Apart from private reading clubs, some apps have likewise surfaced. The ABCmouse English Language Learning app, for example, features more than 150 lessons designed for Chinese children.
It remains unclear if Chinese parents are also using Peppa Pig videos to train their children. Recently, parents have raised concern after fake Peppa Pig videos with disturbing plots appeared online.
At first, a parent won’t be suspicious because the animations indeed resemble Peppa. However, the plot will soon turn dark. One example is Peppa crying as a sadistic dentist pulls out her teeth with a giant syringe.
Social psychologist Sonia Livingstone reminds parents through BBC to be mindful of the content their kids view.
“It’s perfectly legitimate for a parent to believe that something called Peppa Pig is going to be Peppa Pig. And I think many of them have come to trust YouTube as a way of entertaining your child for ten minutes while the parent makes a phone call. I think if it wants to be a trusted brand then parents should know that protection is in place.”
Peppa Pig isn’t the only cartoon with unauthorized copies victimizing vulnerable children. There are Doc McStuffins, Frozen, and many more with fake videos.
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