Foreign Expat Kids in Local Shanghai Schools?

Home Forums Foreign Expat Kids in Local Shanghai Schools?

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 12 posts - 16 through 27 (of 27 total)
  • Author
  • #4833

    It has been close to 3 months since I started teaching English in a local Chinese school. As I don’t station there (I only go to the school twice a week when I have lessons) or kids studying in local school, I am not aware of their workload.

    But besides academics and languag, I just want to comment on the emotional and cultural aspect.

    Its a norm to see teachers pulling student’s ear and putting them down. If your kids have never experience it back in their own country. Please tell them don’t take it personlly. Its just the culture.

    I believe many have heard that local students are very respectful and attentive in class (because they have to sit up straight with hands behind). But that is only half the story. This is only true when a teacher is around. But once behind the teacher’s back, they don’t talk, they generally “shout” to get their voice across. I guess they pick it up from their parents and teachers. And yes, teachers in my school shout alot.

    I used to think like that when my daughter goes to primary school, I would send her to a local school. But after my experience, I think I will think twice.

    But having said that, I still love my kids back in the local school. Its just that culturally, we are very different.

    Then again, if you are staying around Gubei, you can perhaps visit Jian Qing Shi Yan School. It’s a very good school.


    My son’s teacher has called my son a liar (he didn’t) and told him his project was unacceptable and ‘terrible’ (actually, I thought is was perfectly acceptable for 3rd grade and certainly something he did by himself and was something that he was proud of).

    I would not expect any teacher (esp in primary school) to say anyone’s work was terrible…I expect constructive criticism (like add some photos, you need a title page, you need to expand your essay, I want a cover, etc.) esp when something was handed in a week early! Besides, I read her instructions and I couldn’t figure out what she wanted . He got a chance to turn in the project again (minus 10 points for being late) but it looked nothing like her written expectation and probably everything that she wanted.

    Oh, did I mention that she’s north american? And yes, we are in the international division of a local school. Which then speaks of the uneven teachers that your kids might encounter. And then you might have no recourse, since there might be only one class per grade.


    Anyone who can speak English can teach here. It’s harder to find jobs at the international schools if you truly have no experience but, even there, when it gets down to the crunch and someone renegs on their contract at the last minute, people get hired who have questionable experience. As you move down the feeding chain of Shanghai schools, the problem gets worse. At one of the international kindergartens, my daughter’s class cycled through three English teachers over the course of the year and I don’t think any of them had ever had an Early Childhood Ed class. The only saving grace was that the Chinese teacher was trained and good.

    My sense is that the American and European schools are more sensitive to criticism from parents and will correct a bad hiring as quickly as they can. I think Asian culture is such that it’s harder to deal with bad hirings in the Asian and local schools.


    Whatever it is, let’s just say it takes time to change. Last summer, I was in Shenyang doing a summercamp. The ministry was there almost everyday to observe and video tape how we conduct our classes in a more positive and creative way. And there are still many exchange program going on. One of the major items of discussion is how to use more positive learning in classroom teaching.

    But as a mother, I guess I am still selfish. If I can afford. I would still choose not to place my daughter in this environment.


    My son get enough of the toughness at home (from me. LOL. And I would never say his work is terrible, I would praise him for his effort and give ideas for improvement!). I paid tuition so that my kids will have a positive learning experience and love learning, not so they ask to stay home from school.


    For parents tempting to send their children to local schools, below is a good article from Shanghai Daily.

    I showed the article to my local co-worker who is a mother of a 6 year-old first grader and she could not agree more with the author that “he will be constantly ranked in accordance with his score, which then dictates the amount of respect and kindness he will get from his teachers and classmates.”

    Pupils are wrecks but the system grinds on

    Created: 2008-1-16

    Author:Wan Lixin

    ONE noted scholar once remarked that the youth today are no longer capable of experiencing intense feelings, whether the ecstasies of joy or the depths of sorrow.

    But recently some students were moved to tears by a text depicting the vicissitudes experienced by Fan Jin.

    Excerpted from the classic novel “The Scholars,” the story relates how Fan, long held in contempt by his family and relatives, succeeds in the provincial examination at the age of 54. He goes mad upon hearing the news.

    The examination success also results in a dramatic elevation in the estimation of Fan, particularly by his father-in-law Butcher Hu, who used to abuse him.

    “There were faint sobs while the teacher was going through the text. Quite a few students were in tears, just like me …” thus wrote Xiao Yu, a junior high school student in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, in his diary.

    Xiao Yu explained that the readers were so sympathetic because they themselves are all too familiar with types like Butcher Hu in their own lives.

    The “good” students, or those good at getting high scores, are pampered and fawned over by the teachers and the students alike, in spite of their defects in other respects.

    The “bad” students are perennial victims of prejudice, disdain, and neglect.

    But the similarities between Fan and today’s young scholars are limited.

    First, only a very small minority chose to distinguish themselves through studies in Fan’s time, while today almost none can be spared the ordeal.

    Second, Fan at 54 had sat for about 20 examinations, which was only a fraction of the number endured by a student today at age 10.

    There is also one fundamental difference: Fan’s studies were largely self-motivated and self-managed, because at his time there was no orthodox curriculum and national syllabus, or standardized tests.

    Today school cramming is institutionalized, compulsory, and begins from pre-school years.

    One of my nephews in north Jiangsu is cramming for this year’s National College Entrance Examination; he leaves home at 5:30am and returns home at 10:30pm, almost every day for the past three years.

    This is the test of tests and it reduces individuals infinitely diverse in their temperaments and aspirations to a fatal numerical score.

    The message has been hammered home to students that any letting-up in their efforts will cost them the race.

    As if they were professional sports people, who are constantly reminded that the medal has to be won, at whatever cost.

    The health and psychological costs are considerable, when you know the number of students who end up traumatized.

    I remember scholar Qian Mu once noted that intensifying competition determines that our society is churning out human wrecks.

    Almost all are losers. Depending on the context, one winner will emerge in a class, a school, a field, a nation.

    Individual resistance can be futile.

    For instance, my five-year old son is attending a kindergarten known for its English teaching, but so far we have managed to show little concern over his ignorance compared with his classmates. We have successfully deflected the attentions of salespersons who intend to prey on his weekends and vacations.

    But our protection can go only as far as elementary school, where he will be constantly ranked in accordance with his score, which then dictates the amount of respect and kindness he will get from his teachers and classmates.

    When everyone else is hell-bent on revving up their scores, those who dare to take a laissez-faire attitude are, as one parent said, “subjecting their kid to a pack of wolves.”

    The really sensible parents, rather than shield them, should teach them how to live with wolves.

    I heard from one of my colleagues that one couple, obviously taking a liberal view of education, would not hear of any private schooling for their kid. To their great dismay, their child failed to enter a key school.

    Thus, unless the so-called jianfu (unloading) is a nationally-coordinated move, those who dare to take the initiative are veritable dummies.

    This explains why repeated efforts at unloading all end up as short-lived farces.

    Remedy elusive

    Late last November the education department in Wuhan, Hubei Province, promulgated a total of 17 decrees aimed at relieving students’ burden.

    The decrees, acclaimed as highly doable, aimed to reduce the burden by regulating study hours, home assignments, the times of examinations, the number of competitive events, and the practice of private tutoring.

    Just one month after they went into effect, the decrees had failed. This outcome did not surprise the education experts, teachers and parents.

    From elementary school on, nearly all teachers are subjected to quantitative assessment, which essentially means linking the average class test results with the teachers’ earnings.

    The only way to achieve quick results in this race for high scores, thus good earnings, is to involve students in incessant problem-solving.

    Many teachers and parents are keenly aware that this pedagogy is destroying their students and children, both mentally and physically.

    But even the most liberal-minded teachers dare not do what’s right for the kids, encumbered as they are by their own big family to support.

    Who dares to challenge the establishment by sacrificing the welfare of their family?


    Interesting post. When I taught at Fudan, the system also encouraged rampant cheating. After all, if the school and the teachers are being judged by the scores – don’t you want the students to do everything possible to score high? Even if it includes turning a blind eye to answers being written on desks or people bringing in notes they shouldn’t have. My students would tell me that you have to use all the tools available to you to succeed an that being good at cheating was also a skill.

    I have grown to be much more appreciative of the role of the arts and sports in education since I have been here. Not only are they important in teaching children that no one can succeed alone (even the Bill Gateses of the world need companies of people to back them up) but they also help students to see and appreciate the variety of talents that people may bring to the table. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the Chinese are best at individual sports and not team sports.


    Based on its unique culture and tradition, China has its own education style. In the past decade, great changes have taken place in Chinese education. With the reform of education system, now the whole nation has popularize the Nine Year’s Compulsory Schooling System. And the ratio of entering universities is higher than former years. If one should get a Bachelor Degree or even high degree he/she must experience the following steps


    Which means children who aged from 3 to 6 will be sent to the neighborhood kindergartens to learn the basis of native language. The teacher will teacher them how to speak , to write some common words, to draw, to dance, now also to speak simple English. In addition, virtues and kindness are important to teach.

    Compulsory education:—-Primary School and Junior School

    With 5 years in primary school and 4 years in junior school, all the students are required to take various lessons, they are Chinese, mathematics, English, Science, Laboring, and some other activities.

    Senior School—it depends. After 9 year’s studying, one can choose to go to the Senior school ,still he can go to the vocational school for skill learning for 3 or 4 years.

    Those who entering High school will learn more widely lessons than before, 3 years study is difficult and hardworking. Because they will enter the college enrollment examinations in June 6-8th every year.

    Higher Education— train specialists for all the sectors of the country’s development. Universities, colleges and institutes, which make up China’s higher educational system, offer four- or five-year undergraduate programs as well as special two-or three year programs.


    Hi. I have just moved to China, opened myself an ICBC bank account.

    When I opened, iI got that generic ICBC bank card without my name on it, just my account number (or so i’ve been told).

    Is this card OK to get by in China? i plan to use it for all my purchasing inside China.

    Is it secure enough (it doesn’t even have my name on)? it just seemed too…easy  (in my home country it take at least a week for a credit debit card to get to the bank).

    Also, I am planning on transferring some funds here, what should I prepare before doing so?



    If it has that SIM-card-looking chip on the card, and says UnionPay on it, you should be fine as far as using it in China. Transferring funds is messy if you did not bring cash. I would prefer to draw directly from my foreign accounts here if that were the case.


    I’m not sure why having your name on the card makes it more secure. But yes, you should be fine to use it for purchases in almost everywhere in China as well as withdrawing money from an ATM.


    ICBC’s card should have the UnionPay on it, and not necessarily the security chip.

    Both my Peony and Gold cards don’t have the security chip, yet I can make purchases with them anywhere in China.

    Transferring funds in? Make sure you spell your name correct…as its indicated in your ICBC account otherwise you account in China may not get credited.

    For example, say my name is John Smith but on my ICBC account its listed under SMITHJOHN.

    So if I want to transfer money in then I have to list the account holder name as SMITHJOHN.

Viewing 12 posts - 16 through 27 (of 27 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our case studies

Featured case studies