For the last 30 years since China has opened its door, more and more foreigners have chosen to live in the middle kingdom. Some come here to study, others to work. Now many families are facing a problem: what should they do with their children? Should they put them into a Chinese school? Today we’ll talk to a Canadian family who chose to put their two kids into the Chinese education system.
Johanna is ten years old and she moved to Beijing last summer with her family. Three months later, her parents enrolled her into a local Chinese school.
There are 34 students in Johanna’s class and she is the only non-Chinese. According to her teacher, the school has done a lot to look after her.
Ms. Zhang Wenjun, Johanna’s teacher:
There are some special rules for Yezi (Johanna). She can talk to her classmates in class when she has any questions at any time. The children sitting around her are all good students.
Wang Zewen, Johanna’s classmate:
Sometimes I help her with reading Chinese texts and Yezi helps me with my English.
For similar reasons, Stephane,14, Johanna’s older brother, is also welcomed by his classmates in the secondary school.
It’s very good to have a foreigner as our classmate. All of us like to communicate with him.
Mr. Zhang Shuqing, Stephane’s teacher:
It’s true. It’s quite hard to teach a foreign student because his Chinese is not good enough to understand what I’m teaching in class. He can’t raise questions. He doesn’t khow what to ask and how to ask in the language.
Maurice Gallant is the father of the two children. In his opinion, how much kids can learn is not the primary concern.
Maurice Gallant: We just thought it would be the best environment for them to learn, and also a different cultural experience. For our kids we thought it was a very good year for them. Our son was about to enter a senior high school in Canada so we thought this would be the last really good year for him to be able to get away, spending a year somewhere else in a cultural environment and that sounds experienced for him to improve his Chinese. Same thing with our daughter.
Sometimes the different school system is kind of a challenge to both Stephane and Johanna.
Maurice Gallant: Well I think it is more teacher-focused here. There is a lot of lecturing. Students are really not allowed another side where the teacher is in control of the classroom and the students listen. Well, in Canada, it is very much, two-way. And perhaps it is a little too student-oriented sometimes. But it’s a situation and environment which Johanna really thrives. She really misses that here.
Jenny, the children’s mum:
I think it is a right decision still. It’s really worthwhile for the cultural experience and the language learning, too.