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February 03, 2005

Get 'em While They're Young!

The Daily Yomiuri continues to turn out education-related articles, the latest series being on English-language learning. The new series started yesterday and is called "In Pursuit of English." The first installment looks at new services that go one step further than starting English in elementary school by offering English to preschoolers. Nova, the country's largest eikaiwa chain school operator, recently opened its first day-care center, in a large commercial complex in Gifu, and already plans to open a second in Aichi next month. Fees start at almost ¥100,000 yen a month, almost four times the national average for day-care facilities. Day-care is available for up to eight hours a day, of which two hours are spent with foreign English-language teachers.

Poppins Corp, the country's largest provider of day-care services, has seen high demand for places at its preschools. It opened the International Preschool in Tokyo's Shibuya ward last September and had 100 applicants for 30 places despite fees of ¥150,000 per month. Other large corporations competing in the field are Benesse and ECC Junior, both of which operate schools run by mothers from their own homes. Early start to English study

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