When Disney first opened its English language centers in 2008, the media giant had high hopes that characters loved the world over would help them take advantage of the $4.5 billion USD English-training market, but as Disney English saturates the market for preschool and elementary education, they are looking to expand into the lucrative teenage and adult education market.
Test centers targeting teenagers have begun to pop up in tier-2 and tier-3 cities around China, but Senior Course Designer David Hotpot, shared why classic Disney characters weren't a perfect fit for teenage learners.
"A grandmother once told me that she didn't appreciate her son learning action verbs from a Xinjiang terrorist," he shared, "I reassured her that there must be a mistake."
When she held up a picture of Aladdin counting lamps with the magic carpet, I knew that the Disney characters of yesteryear weren't going to appeal to older learners."
Conversely, movies from the Marvel franchise are some of the highest performing in China, cascading characters like Iron Man and Thor into the hearts and minds of Chinese people, convincing Disney execs to give the training centers one more chance to prove their viability.
"I love Thor so much. He's so handsome! exclaimed Xiao Chen, one of the teenage students preparing to study abroad in the UK. Her mother agreed, "I know that he's an alien god from the planet Asgard...but he just looks like an English teacher!"
When David shared feedback from Chen and her mother, they knew they had a winning formula on their hands.
Marvel English is set to open ten branches in tier 3 cities like Wuhan, Changsha and Dalian in Q4 of 2017, and pending its success, we may see your friendly neighborhood Spiderman teaching SAT prep in Shanghai soon enough.