Two students create a program for a Lego robot with a computer, at a primary school in Shenzhen. Zhao Yanxiong / For China Daily
Educationalists say language creates rich dialogue between mankind and machines
Five-year-old Duoduo is clearly hooked on her new toy, a blue robot called Dash. The only child in her family, Duoduo teaches the robot how to dance on her iPad - even naming it meimei, or little sister.
Dash - a programming robot compatible with iOS and Android devices that can be controlled through mobile apps - was designed by Silicon Valley-based Wonder Workshop Inc, and became popular in the Chinese market from last year.
"Our slogan is that coding is the new English. If the English language is a universal communications tool for people, coding is another vital tool for dialogue between human beings and machines in the age of artificial intelligence," said Brian Yang, general manager Asia Pacific at Wonder Workshop, a manufacturer of toy robots which teach kids how to code.
"We're not aiming to train geeks, but foster children's logical thinking and creativity. Learning programming will lay solid foundations for the future," he added.
The company says the past few years have seen coding classes start up in over 24 countries, among them the US, Germany and South Korea.
Educationalists say more parents want their children to be better prepared for the future, especially one in which the central government has set a goal of boosting the nation through science and education.
The Ministry of Education issued a series of documents to facilitate the teaching of science.
The latest requirement published this February asked that all standard elementary and middle schools offer science classes, to help create a more innovative country.
Denmark's Lego group has pioneered promoting robot education programs in China. In 2010, Lego started a creative talent training program with the Ministry of Education.
Chen Jiaoli, general manager of Lego education China, said that to date over 6,000 schools had adopted her company's program, which teach children from the ages of 3 years up the basics of coding and programming.
The company announced that it would boost the development of children's programming products this year.
Educationalists say China is known for its big investment in education and say it is important for China's 'economic miracle.'