Greetings! I am glad that you could join me in my travels to China! Follow me daily to see what adventures I and my fellow administrators from Pennsylvania are encountering as we travel through the countryside and cities of China.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thursday, April 14th

Chinese Exchange Initiative Group from Pennsylvania
Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School
Today we were driven to the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School in the city. There we were greeted by the assistant principal and members of the staff, including a high school teacher who spoke English and translated for us. We were first shown a video, then were given a brief overview of the school. Started in 1994, the school has 168 classes totaling more than 10,000 students and 700 teachers. The students here receive an education in all subjects, but concentrate on the foreign languages, which are English, Japanese or Russian. In kindergarten they have bilingual classes, which are mostly English and Chinese, and in junior and senior high they have an experimental bilingual program. There are 3 kindergartens belonging to this school, 2 of them are in different locations in the city. Since this is a private school (grades k - 8), prospective kindergarten students and their parents are interviewed before being accepted. We visited a kindergarten class that was doing their morning exercises and saw their tiny beds for nap time (how adorable!). We also visited with a class of 1st graders who were very eager to speak to us in English. One cute little boy even asked us how old we were, to which the teacher replied that was a secret :)


There are 31 provinces in China, but only 16 schools (this being one of them) that can recommend students directly to universities without taking the national exam. Each year 170 of their students go directly to the university, and they are very proud of this fact.

Teacher work room

After a tour of the marvelous facilities, we chatted with our colleagues at the various grade levels. We had great conversations about curriculum, teacher evaluations, and student concerns. This was a great experience. Educators around the world are not so different after all.

1st Grade

In the afternoon we visited the Shijiazhuang Art School. A contrast to the other, this school is public, and receives its support from the government. There are only 2 public art schools like it in Hebei, but many more private ones. While it is public, it is, however, selective, and students must pass academics, an interview and an audition to be accepted. The government, in order to encourage students to attend these types of vocational schools, pay the student a stipend each month. This promotes these schools to students because not all students in China can attend the universities, and after graduation they have better opportunities to find jobs. The curriculum in the school consists of academic subjects for half of the day, and the student's major for the other half. Students specialize in music, drama, or dance. There are approximately 1000 students in the school, and residency is required. Of course, if you saw their practice schedule, you would understand why. The students here range in age from 11 to 17, but all of them have such great talent! We saw the students practice dance, song and instrumental lessons, but the culminating event was a performance in the auditorium at which we were the honored guests. Afterward, we joined the students on stage for pictures. Wow!

One of the performance groups

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