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Main Topic: Consuming Global English

Hosts: Michael Turton, James Stanworth , Clyde Warden

A visit to nearly any Asian country will find English for sale. This market is big, with every child going to cram schools (buxiban), kindergarten, or taking private lessons. In this show, Michael Turton joins TAM to discuss how the market has changed over the past twenty years as well as the major characteristics of the market.

This topic has an accompanying research show ( show 23 ) for marketing researchers. It includes details on research methodologies and findings mentioned in this show. To view the supplement and other research related shows, register and/or sign in. This research included a big project that used ZMET methodology to examine English learners' underlying psychological metaphors about learning English. We uncovered very clear motivators for studying English, and the results are not what you expect!

Buxiban DM
Buxiban DM
From an export economy to a service economy, Taiwan's English market has undergone massive change. One example is the TOFEL exam, used to entering schools in the USA. In just the past few years, the number of Taiwan language learners taking the local exam (GEPT) was over ten times more than those taking the TOFEL, and the revenue for the GEPT is more than double that of the TOFEL (6.2 compared to 3.1 million USD in 2003-2005). In the local market, English is about winning, about exams, and buxibans cater to this market--including math, social science, and the big one: Chinese. While the big English chains make it look like English is so huge in Asia, actually it is one small part of what cram schools do. There are even cram schools for things like flower arrangement, music lessons, and car repair!
Michael Turton
Michael Turton

Michael has a very detailed Website on teaching English in Taiwan!

The cram schools (Buxiban) cater for an extremely test results driven market, it does not emphasize the practicality of the language.

The Show:

Length: 54 minutes. Download MP3 24.56MB (Right click->Save As).

Here is a direct marketing (DM) flier that is typical of buxibans. The English is added by Clyde. Note how the emphasis on external motivators is important. Do it because the Ministry of Education says so, because companies require it, because you need to pass the exam. Nowhere is it mentioned to do it for fun or enjoyment.
Click Here to Download (434.66MB)


Consumer Cam ConsumerCam:

Vid. 1) A 13 year old student carries ConsumerCam into one of the big chains-Global Village. After being ignored for ten minutes, she is told to go shopping and return later. Because the chains focus on reducing costs to improve revenue, they hire student workers, and the service results are predictable. This lack of service quality can be seen in the teaching also, where pay rates tend to be low. There clearly is a mismatch between the upscale building designs and claims made in their marketing messages and the reality of a customer who is told to Go Away! This is why the small buxibans can survive--better service.

Show Links:

Bottom Line:

  • In the 1980’€™s the chain stored Buxiban were few, in the 90’€™s the chains were booming.
  • In the 1990’€™s it was the perfect competition of the market, the tuition fees and the remuneration was standardized.
  • The insistence by the govenernment provided a strong backdrop for the rise of English education.
  • The Buxiban is very test & exam orientated and the students’ test results are displayed on LCD screens for display.
  • The demand for English has saturated in the 21Centry, factors such as a decreasing in population, coupled with an increased university graduates that open private tuitions and work for less.
  • The test driven Buxiban is still in high gear, but the voluntary work to improve the practicability of English has declined.
  • The idea of language in everyday use is not important for people; the shift of economic foundation (to China) might be a possibility.
  • The foreign cartoons in Taiwan are translated into ways (slang) that people understand; the result is a possible lost in translation.
  • When the foreigners visit Taiwan the places that they frequent are mostly westernized (Pubs, Metropolitan cities), this creates a false impression of the English in use.
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