Plymouth beats London for Chinese language students

By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor/Plymouth Herald

 Picture left to right: Neil Pick and Xia Ju.

ENGLISH is the number one language of business – even in the Far East – according to a Plymouth language firm’s Chinese-based operative.

Xia Yu, who represents Tellus Educational Group in the Chinese capital Beijing, said there is a strong desire to learn English in her homeland.

Xia, in Plymouth on an annual trip to the Tellus HQ, in Mutley, said Chinese students are also keen to study in Plymouth – in preference to London– because it gives them a more English experience.

“English is the international language,” she told Herald Business. “In China we learn Eng lish in school.

 “Plus Chinese people like the culture and history (in the UK) and outstanding universities. “And they like Plymouth because it is a safe city and quieter than London.

“I recommend students come here rather than London because it is very English.

“London is an international city, but in Plymouth they will meet locals.”

 Xia is a former Plymouth University accounting and finance students who worked for Tellus on graduating.

After two years she returned to Beijing, in 2013, but was retained by Tellus to work in China, a lucrative market for the English language sector.

“I carry out marketing and research and recruit students,” she said. “Adults in China want to improve their English to go to universities in English-speaking countries such as the UK, Canada and Australia.

“Younger people just want to have fun when they come here, to experience life.”

Tellus chief executive Neil Pick has been to China twice on missions as part of an on-going plan to bring “hundreds” of Chinese students to the UK, with the aim of attracting £1million in business to Plymouth and Portsmouth a year by 2019.

Xia has accompanied him on British Council China road-shows and visits to education agents and head teachers.

She said there has been a lot of collaboration between Chinese and UK businesses. And she looks forward to her annual trips to Plymouth.

“I have a lot of friends in Plymouth,” she said. “I lived here for four years and it was a big part of my life. If people ask what is my favourite place in the UK I’ll say Plymouth.”

Xia, who also speaks Italian alongside her native Mandarin, is also visiting the other Tellus base, in Portsmouth, during her trip to the UK.

“She’ll be there for two weeks to get to know that city,” said Mr Pick.

He said Xia is also taking part in a review of Tellus’s business in China.

“It’s to see what we need to do to go forward,” he said. “And we’re discussing me going back to China.

“We’ve only been operating there for just over a year, but have a big commitment to it. We are identifying a strategy and need to do some more research and find a niche instead of competing with people head-on.”

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