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Cartoons, Big Influence on Study Abroad

Middle school students are more likely than their high school counterparts to say that they intend to study abroad. They also show a greater interest in studying in Japan and South Korea, although the United States, Australia and France are the top three desired destinations for overseas study for both middle and high school students.

That's the conclusion of a recent survey of 428 middle and high school students at 14 local schools done by a marketing firm, Market-Expert (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. Forty-seven percent of middle-school students want to study abroad, compared to 42 percent of high-schoolers.

Market-Expert's manager, Wang Bin, believes he knows why middle-school students want to study overseas, but still be close to home.

"Younger students prefer Japan and South Korea mainly because of the effect of cartoons, songs and teen idols from the two countries that they see on TV," he said. "Japanese and Korean entertainers and cartoons have been popular in recent years. A considerable number of students who say they intend to study in Japan or South Korea will probably spend less time studying but more time following Japanese and Korean pop culture as they likely imagine themselves becoming teen idols."

Said Huo Xiaoyan, a seventh grader at Tumen Middle School, "I want to study in Japan because Japan is not far away and I like Japanese animated cartoons."

For middle-schoolers, Japan ranks No. 4 and South Korea is No. 6 as study-abroad destinations.

But for high-schoolers, Japan is No. 9, while South Korea is No. 13.

Yao Meiying of the Shanghai International Students' Placement Council for Education and Science said the younger a student is, the easier it is for that student to learn a foreign language. "But teenagers are at risk in terms of independence and self-development. Plus, study overseas is expensive," Yao said.

"Few high schools in Japan and South Korea enroll students from Shanghai. Some Japanese universities do admit freshmen from Shanghai, and the cost for tuition and room and board for a year is about 110,000 yuan (US$13,253)."

(eastday.com December 14, 2001)

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