Hear from Teachers

The following anonymous responses are collected from teachers that have taught Chinese international students in high school.

What differences do you see between Chinese and American students?

"Chinese students want to succeed in the American system, but are focused more on the results than the process of learning. "

"How they communicate with one another and participate in class. "

​"There are more things in common than different. Chinese students are very well prepared in mathematics and because math is its own language I think Chinese students do well in that subject. Chinese students have difficulty working with other students collaboratively when they first enter the school. Sharing answers on group problems is difficult at first."​

"Chinese students seem less social during class. Some American students tend to get easily distracted during lessons. Of course, there are exceptions."

"Chinese students are often more careful about the details/facts; American students are more used to open-ended conversations."

"There are language differences that come up in reading, writing, and class discussion."

"Most Chinese students are more dedicated to the learning process, but not all.  Chinese students do not 'venture' out as much as American students -- Often only sit near other Chinese students, etc."

What do you think are some challenges for Chinese students?

"Integrating into the school community and joining in more with other students outside of the Chinese student group.”

"​Knowing how to speak English well is the biggest challenge.  While I understand the value and need to speak to other Chinese students, I would encourage them to try to speak in English as much as possible."

"Working in groups with other US and Chinese students is an important skill.

Using the calculator to solve complex math problems."

"Language. It's tough to learn a new language and even tougher to try and listen to it at speed. "

"Certainly learning in a foreign language, and living in a second language. I worry that Chinese students feel isolated from other students. Class discussion is important in history classes, and I think it is difficult for some Chinese students to participate. I also worry that American students are impatient with the Chinese students, because they are a little harder for them to understand. I worry that American students tune out when Chinese students speak."

"It can be really difficult not only to master English grammar, but to read challenging texts and write sophisticated analysis in English. I wish we had more in place here to offer Chinese students to help them. I also think class participation can be a challenge."


What suggestions would you give Chinese students to overcome these challenges?

"Joining more activities and going to more social events outside of the school day such as dances, games, etc."

"Work on your English skills.

Be open to working with groups of students.

Come to the teacher with questions.

Get a school approved calculator and learn how to use it."​

"It's hard. Keep trying. Ask the teacher to repeat something if you didn't get it. They won't be offended, plus there's a bunch of other students in the class, Chinese and otherwise, that probably need info repeated anyway. "

"Talk with American students about anything and everything. Watch television and American movies (even bad ones) to get more comfortable with the language. "

"Trying to participate and discuss the texts in English. Seeing the teacher for extra help with writing. I think the school could use more of a structure in place (like an ESL class) to help with this. I would urge against relying on a translator, because the students I've worked with who used them didn't seem to make progress as quickly with their English. " 

"Not be afraid to ask for help and be OK with saying that they do not understand something."

What are things Chinese students can do to better prepare for the subject you teach?

“Meeting with the teacher more outside of class time to go over writing and practice for presentations.”  (from a history teacher)

"Get used to reading assignments more than once, and marking passages that seem hard to understand. Ask the teacher or other students to explain the difficult parts." (from a history teacher)

"Reading as much in English as possible, to work on comprehension and to see examples of sophisticated sentence structure." (from an English teacher)

"The Chinese students I have taught have all had an excellent understanding of math.  I would work on English skills, group skills and calculator skills."​ (from a math teacher)

"Strong math skills and use of calculators." (from a science teacher)

"Keeping up with reading (if there's a textbook). Use online resources to hear other perspectives." (from a science teacher)


What resources would be helpful for you to better teach, understand, and communicate with Chinese students?

"More information about each student's background and maybe meeting with students more one-one one."

"Knowing a Chinese student's strength with the English language. Knowing how fast I should talk. "

"I would like to have a list of concerns that Chinese students have about the school and understand how teachers can provide help."

"Maybe each could write a short autobiography, which would help me understand what sorts of experiences they've had, what's shaped the way they think, etc."

"I would love some training in teaching ESL to high schoolers - this is not part of the typical training for Upper School English teachers."