What is 'Disney' English? A recent Wall Street Journal article focused attention on this topic. Although the representatives of Disney schools claim that their educational institutions are not primarily marketing Mickey Mouse to the children of China, it sure looks like it. Nevertheless, according to Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide, "We never saw this as an effort to teach the Disney brand and Disney characters. We set out to teach Chinese kids English." I am dubious after watching this video, but is there anything wrong with teaching English while marketing Disney products?
I guess not, but in trying to understand the world's many Englishes, this is one I hadn't thought about before. Does it matter what 'literature' inspired you to learn English? Here in the USA, we say that the most important thing is that you get your children to enjoy reading, whether it's comic books or Sesame Street books or Disney storybooks. However, if you're living here, it's assumed that you want to acculturate your children to our value system.
So, why hasn't the Chinese government reacted negatively to the idea that their most precious resources for the future - their children - are being taught American values through Disney English schools? Clearly, there is no way to remove our culture from this product. Hmmmm....
(For those curious about what Disney Schools are looking for in their teachers, here's an ad displaying requirements for teachers applying for a job with Disney in China.)