Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Japan's foreign-language teaching industry valued at a cool $8.7 billion

There's an interesting article in The New York Times saying how Japan is gaga over learning English from Obama's speeches. They apparently even go gaga when they can't really get what he's saying; he's just that moving.

While that's fun and all, the most interesting part of the article was this little tidbit:
The publishers [of learning resources using Obama's speeches] are trying to tap into a foreign-language teaching industry [in Japan] that the Yano Search Institute said was valued at ¥767 billion, or $8.7 billion, in 2008. The figure includes the cost of books, CDs, dictionaries, e-learning programs, standardized English tests, and the cost of private language lessons. The institute, in Tokyo, says the majority of the spending is aimed at learning English.
Just to see it with all the zeroes, that's $8,700,000,000. To put that number into perspective, that's more than the GDP of 46 countries as listed in the CIA World Factbook. And that's how the industry was valued in 2008—hardly a stellar year for the world economy.

So if you're in the language-learning industry and Japan's not a major focus for you, it's probably time to make a Japan plan.

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