Every year, we recruit hundreds of international teachers to teach on our international high school programs, which offer A-level, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs to Chinese high school students. But what is it actually like teaching Chinese students in China? We give you the low-down.
What is the traditional learning style in Chinese schools?
Historically, the way in which Chinese students have been taught has generally been quite didactic. Students focus on rote learning, and independent and analytical thinking does not always figure strongly. This, however, is changing as China’s education system develops. Thanks to this more ‘traditional’ approach, however, Chinese students have great powers of concentration and focus. In addition, they are invariably strong in mathematics in particular.
There is also a culture of testing within the Chinese curriculum – the Chinese love tests and parents love grades! Whilst our international high school programs are also underpinned by testing and examinations, there is a focus on a wider range of teaching and learning strategies that require students to be active participants in the learning process. This is particularly important if Chinese students are to make a real success of a university education in the west.
What are Chinese students like to teach overall?
Chinese students are invariably focused, driven and very determined. In many cases they’re extremely knowledgeable about a subject and expect their teacher to be a subject expert. Their behaviour is usually exemplary. In addition, there are few of the classroom management issues that teachers in other countries may have experienced.
However, Chinese students are often dependent rather than independent learners. As a result, our teachers need to work to build independence even with the most able students. Teachers in our international curriculum centers work to not only to get across the content and subject knowledge that students need to perform well in examinations but also to support them in becoming confident, independent learners who will survive and thrive when studying in foreign countries.
What is the biggest challenge for international teachers teaching Chinese students?
The biggest challenge for international teachers here in China is to combine all of the best qualities that typify Chinese students with the best of the educational systems the teachers themselves come from. They need to work hard to achieve a balance between academic learning, and personal growth and development. At the same time, teachers have to constantly seek ways in which to engage students and help them thrive in a very different learning environment. Lastly, they also need to be extremely good at their subject because often students are very knowledgeable and demand similar levels of knowledge from teachers.
What about English ability among Chinese students?
The requirement to learn entirely in English in our centers is often a challenge for students, even the most gifted. Therefore, Dipont teachers and centers spend a lot of time consolidating students’ abilities in this area. This also ensures that students learn the theory underpinning the various concepts under review.
Often the problem is not that students do not understand a concept, they’re just unable to write fluently or quickly enough in examinations. This challenge is highlighted even in subjects like statistics. Because examinations have a lot of text to understand, students struggle to get to the problem requiring a solution. When they do unravel the problem, however, they are almost always able to do the required mathematics. It was just that the English impeded their understanding.
What’s the expected outcome for Dipont’s international programs?
We hope students get the highest possible grades, realize their potential and achieve their goal to attend university in a country of their choice. We try to equip them with skills and experiences that will stand them in good stead. These include a high level of English and the ability to integrate effectively into the country they study in.
What other aspects do teachers need to focus on when teaching Chinese students?
Our teachers work hard to ensure that students are well-organized and effective learners, that they can meet deadlines, work well independently and have the ability to conduct research as they do a lot of this in our international programs. Teachers endeavor to embed these soft skills through different kinds of activities and through the pastoral systems that some partner schools have in place to support their learners. Opportunities for students to get involved in something different are provided by each school. We hope that this will enable students to develop and demonstrate leadership skills, organizational competence and effective team working.