Since I have been teaching here in China, I have noticed more and more students studying for the IELTs exam.  This exam is required if someone wants to go abroad to study.  It tests their English language skills that included: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.   The scoring is a number system from 1-9, nine being the highest.  They are checking for fluency and overall understanding of the English language.

In the beginning I was teaching university aged students that want to attend university abroad.. now there has been an increase in high school aged students that are wanting to attend high school abroad.

When I asked these students why they wanted to go abroad to study… I received a range of answers from the education is better, my parents want me to go, to I did not do well on the national exam.

Every year, China has a national exam that high school students must take.  This exam is what they spend their entire high school careers to prepare.  They memorize facts and terms for 3 years just to pass this extremely important exam.   This exam decides their future, literally.   If they do well on the exam they can attend a very prestigious school and have a degree that is valued and be respected in China.  However, if they do not do so well.. they will go to a lower school or technical school… or worse case,  if they fail they may not be able to attend university at all.

This is a lot of pressure on a high school student and it explains why they are so diligent in learning over here.  They lives depend on it.   For the parents, it is a sense of pride to know your student did so well on the national exam and a loss of face if your child did not do well.  So, they take care of everything possible for their children so they have no distractions from achieving the best scores possible.  They push them and push them to do the best to the point that the kids are just in tears sometimes when they come to my class. Their pressure and the stress they face is unbelievable.

So.. for those students  whose families have enough money, they will send their child abroad for a foreign degree, which bests a Chinese degree even from a top university.

US education is widely recognized by Chinese students and parents as among the best, with high quality education resources, internationally recognized qualifications, and simple application procedures for both study visas and post study work visas,” …  According to China’s Ministry of Education, almost 180,000 students studied abroad in 2008. Figures from the British Council also showed that visa applications from Chinese students to study in the U.K. in the first six months of 2008 increased 46 percent over the same period in 2007. Liang Wen pointed out that colleges in the U.S. and U.K. are always the first choice for Chinese students who want to study overseas.” -(taken from

Although, our education is the most desired it is also the most expensive and most difficult to enter into.   Most students would prefer to go to their dream colleges of Harvard, Yale, and other ivy league schools… however, the costs and the visas are extremely difficult to obtain.  It is much easier to attend schools in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands or Australia.

In an attempt to get past some of the difficulties Chinese parents have tried to send their children earlier.  If they send them to a private high school in the states first it is easier to get them into a University in the states.  Which actually makes perfect sense.  Thus, begins the preparation for the younger students to go abroad.

The downside to this I feel is the maturity level of the students.  In China, the parents take care of everything for their child.  From cooking, cleaning, to shopping for their clothes even after the child is university age.   The child does not experience  anything besides studying, therefore, to send them abroad with such little experience and maturity is not the best idea.  The children become homesick and have major culture shock.

In recent years there was a problem with these children that were sent abroad in the fact that they did not come back, thus, causing the greatest minds of the future to live in other countries.  However, due to the world economic situations these things are changing.  More and more students are coming back to China, due to the fact that they can not find employment elsewhere.

However, China is not the only country that send their students abroad.  Surprisingly, more American students are coming to China to study.

“While the number of US students in China has grown from less than 100 in the early 1980s to more than 10,000 currently, many of them are here to learn a professional skill as much as to enjoy a new culture.

“In the past, foreign students came to China merely for our culture,” said Xu Qiuhan, director of BLCU’s foreign students office. “But because of China’s rapid economic and social development, being able to speak Chinese has become a useful tool to students’ future careers.”

With the rise in economic power that is happening here in China, more American students are realizing that it is more profitable to them to learn Chinese and some of the Chinese way of doing business.  Some have even stayed in China after graduation, since it is easier for an educated foreigner to get a job here.

All I can say is that the world is becoming closer and closer with the sharing of information and the changes that are going on.  I personally think it is good that we are sharing knowledge between the countries… and hopefully it will make for a better world and better people.

until next time…