Highlighted Articles

Shut Down Due to Health Emergency: Four Stories from International Schools in China and Vietnam

February 9, 2020


We all seem to know somebody in the international school community that is being affected by the health scare in Asia connected to the Coronavirus.

But how are those international schools coping with this situation? What are the teachers’ responsibilities? Where are the teachers doing the online teaching? Which technologies are they using? What is the overall feeling of the situation from all stakeholders? How was the organization of it all?

Here are four stories from four different teachers at international schools in China and Vietnam:

International School of Tianjin

In the days leading up to the Chinese New Year break, there was awareness and increasing concern about the new virus in China. A lot of masks were being worn at school and some students were talking about it with a degree of concern. The virus quickly became a national issue and by the third day of the break, on January 28, we were told that school would be closed until at least February 17. During the holiday week our school let us know that we would be implementing an online learning structure. Leadership teams met and outlined what this would look like in order to continue to provide a rigorous curriculum but not overwhelm the students and parents. In elementary school our primary platform is Seesaw, which the students had already been using all year. We are maintaining the daily schedule as much as possible (i.e. if your class has PE on Monday, the PE teacher would send an assignment on Seesaw that day). Homeroom teachers are expected to send out a morning message with daily assignments by 9:00 each day and be available for the entire work day providing feedback to students. The secondary school is following a similar model using Microsoft Teams and Managebac to share content and assignments.

It has been more work than everyone anticipated, but it has also been nice to be able to connect with students. As parents we are also working with our own children and it has been good to create some structure in their day as the time away from school stretches on. The situation is ongoing. We are far from Wuhan, but there have been a number of cases reported in our city. There is not a formal quarantine but movement is very limited and we are under a lot of pressure to stay indoors at all times. The police are outside taking temperatures and collecting information. As of right now it is likely that the school will stay closed for several more weeks and there is a lot of uncertainty. We are hoping for a resolution of some kind to this crisis and we look forward to getting back to the familiar routines of a normal school day.

American International School in Shanghai, China

I work at an American International School in Shanghai, China. We received an email about starting E-learning lesson on Feb. 3rd and to contact our administrators if we had questions. The email stated to follow our daily class schedule and post a mini lesson video of no less than 15 minutes for each subject taught. As an EAL teacher in primary for different grades, I’ve had to make reading, writing, phonics, and handwriting videos. The email also had a long list of expectations for teachers such as assignments with deadlines to be uploaded on our grading website, students must work for 30 minutes and give feedback. However, little to no support has been given on the IT side of e-lessons, other than contact your supervisor for questions. Edmodo was the only platform suggested to use where someone could support you with it, but we were told to use any platform we preferred which led to parents getting bombarded with messages to sign up to Edmodo, Seesaw and others. I only chose Seesaw because my collaborating teachers were using it, and I wanted to make it easier for my students’ parents.

The two biggest problems we are facing with our E-lessons is not being allowed to use Google technology due to its restrictions in China and most parents not having a VPN. Second one was how to upload videos of 15 minutes in Wechat when it has a five-minute limit. Our school’s official Wechat group went blasting with messages about condensing videos using different websites, different APPs, and etc. Nothing concrete on these APPs with specific tutorials on how to get set it up in a few days to start running e-learning. These links were all helpful however we needed time for E-training, which we haven’t receive in 3 years that I’ve been working there. Luckily for me, I had received classes on using technology in grad school.

I think my school’s expectations are unrealistic due to parents and teachers being stranded all over the world due to CNY holidays and not having access to reliable internet. I was vacationing in Boracay, so I did my lessons with an IPad and my IPhone. Yes, I am without a laptop making this a headache for me. I also have limited or unreliable internet access. Also, you can’t expect the same teaching as the classroom when not everyone has internet, web knowledge or skills, nor the time to sit through a regular day schedule of videos, which include videos for math, science, reading, writing, Specials subject (art, P.E., etc), and foreign language for K-5. Parents spent a long time setting up accounts, learning how to navigate one, two or three APPs. In all honesty, it was hell for teachers, parents and students. I’ve been working around the clock answering questions from parents.

One parent said it best when he voiced his frustrations “Parents can’t teach children. We are not native speakers nor teachers.” Think about the difficulties one of my student’s parent is facing having to login to different APPS and instructions from all teachers for her three children. Can you imagine the series of videos they have to watch daily for each kid? She is beyond frustrated because she’s in the pharmaceutical industry, so she’s still working during the day and has to come home to help her children.

You see I’m happy to learn as I’m doing e-lessons, but I wish my school was more realistic and practical with their expectations. Although I think handwriting is important, I don’t think under these circumstances we need to have e-lesson. I’ve only been focusing on reading and writing and that’s all I can do for now. That’s all more than enough for parents to handle. They are not trained teachers to assist their kids specially in grades K to 3 where children have a shorter attention span and are not yet independent learners. I can teach in a video, but can students be expect to sit through six videos of 10-15 minutes from all their teachers? 

An International School in Ho Chi Minh City

On the Saturday before the school was supposed to open after the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, the school sent an email to staff and parents saying they intended to keep the school open during the Coronavirus outbreak, outlining the enhanced health and safety measures the school would implement. Less than an hour later, the Vietnamese government announced that the virus was an epidemic and all the local and international schools decided to close soon after. Such is life when you live in a country where the government is less than transparent – executive decisions seem to come at short notice, and all schools and administrators can do is adapt as best they can.

As teachers, we all know that death, taxes, and faculty meetings are the unchanging staples of life. As such, even though the students are away, we have faculty meetings three days a week. We enter the campus one at a time, as a guard checks our temperature and directs us to a giant bottle of hand sanitizer we must use before entering. We are updated on the situation on the ground and how it affects school. We meet about students of concern – who’s not doing their remote work, who didn’t bother to check their email until Tuesday, etc. We also discuss strategies for remote work. Everyone uses various online platforms and is happy to share success stories and advice. This is the silver lining of the whole situation: while remote learning is a bit dull if you actually enjoy engaging with students as individual human beings, it’s a great opportunity to experiment with different types of learning platforms. I’m using Edpuzzle and Flipgrid for the first time – I’m not sure if I would have the time or inclination to test them in normal circumstances, but I’m happy to test them out in hopes that I can use them again when everything returns to normal.

United World College Changshu China

When I accepted an offer to work in China I was never to expect that something like the outbreak of Corona virus would happen. However, I consider myself to be the virus free, being in self quarantine for the last 12 days without showing any symptom of infection.

As for the next week, I am required to start teaching online. What does it mean in terms of my effectiveness to share knowledge with students in few classes (different subjects, years and levels)? To be honest, the difference in comparison to my usual days when in school is not so significant (in theoretical terms). As since the beginning of this school year, we have been required to explore and use opportunities of digital learning. My usual working day (for the last few days) starts around 9am and I work, both with teachers and students for the next few hours (read, until I start getting that feeling that my brain will explode). I am relying on Microsoft Teams as the school follows the official Chinese politics and does not welcome Google classrooms. The initial stage of working with Microsoft Teams (this is not an advertisement!) may seems confusing as you can create as many Teams (groups and classes) as you want but soon you may realize that you may be overwhelmed with the amount of messages which keep on getting higher. Students are being required to learn about services of Microsoft Teams on their own while teachers have received some support in that. This basically means that in theory I can use any teaching platform which fits to my current needs, but in reality I have to communicate lessons and instructions on Teams and Manage back only. I am also using Wechat for a quick communication with students.

What I am also currently surviving is the feeling of panic as I have students from six different continents in my classroom and I must reach all of them. I am currently planning our virtual timetable and that seems to be the biggest challenge that we are currently facing (as I must offer face to face instructions). For the last 24 hours I was trying to reach students across the globe, to determine their time zones and assure them that they will have enough knowledge and skills to take the final exams.

In terms of strategy, what to do, how to deliver lessons, I can no longer rely on lesson plans being planned for our classroom space as they emphasize the value of activities much. Now I am trying to find text and create written assignments which would force them to read, think, analyze and construct their responses. In terms of what to do for summative assessment, well, as for now, that is science fiction. I am counting on their honesty when doing formative assessment (though I still aim to use Turnitin).

All in all, the sense of panic is still being strong as I don’t fixed timetable and I am rushing to plan lessons for five different teaching programs,. There is a feeling of fear in me too as some of my students are in cities which were locked down more than two weeks ago and their chance for survival depends only on their willingness not to leave their apartments.

To finish this story, I am still learning how to deliver completely effective virtual classes but I have delivered my first teaching instructions already (in the virtual space which reminds to those of countless forums). I am spending much of my time in calling students wherever they are, to assure them that we can go through this situation and that no one of them will be damaged in terms of their knowledge acquisition.

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Overview of an Int’l School

New Opportunities to Teach at a National School in China

April 14, 2018


You may not have heard of Cixi – it’s a city close to Ningbo and not far from Shanghai (about 1 ½ hours by fast train, 2 hours by car) – but it’s a really interesting place. It is at the centre of the ‘Golden Triangle’, the area between Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo, and it ranks in the top ten of the richest county-level cities in China and is considered to be one of the happiest. Maybe there is a link there! Or it could be to do with there being no pollution and lots of blue skies!

Chinese Schools

We have a new school opening in Cixi at the beginning of September 2018, and we think it is going to be quite different from both traditional Chinese schools and international schools. Let me explain……

The name of the school is Cixi Wengu Foreign Language School, and it is aiming to provide all that’s best about the Chinese National Curriculum, but to combine that with some of the best features of international education. Chinese parents have become very discerning – they have a clear idea of what they are want for their children and what they want includes access to foreign languages, especially English, and exposure to a dynamic, international-style education. At the same time, they want the best features of the traditional education (like they experienced as children) to be maintained.

Chinese Schools

In Cixi, we intend to provide both. We are recruiting (would you be interested?) qualified foreign primary teachers who will work alongside their Chinese colleagues. For some of the time the foreign teachers will lead lessons, with the Chinese teachers supporting, for the rest of the time their positions will be reversed. We fully recognize the challenge this will present, particularly in relation to the communication and professional understanding that will be necessary for it to work well. We also recognize that it will have to be a gradual process of introduction, as both children and teachers get used to a new way of working.

We anticipate the school will open with four classes of grade 1 students, and a grade will be added each year. This, we feel, is a manageable way of introducing this new way of working, and it should allow plenty of time to consolidate everyone’s understanding and practice.

Chinese Schools

For a foreign teacher, it will certainly present new challenges. For that reason, we are offering our teachers salaries and benefits more like Beijing and Shanghai than like other second tier cities. What is it they say about offering peanuts and getting……….? For our plan to work, we will need really high quality teachers who are up for the challenge of being part of something new and who are flexible enough to embrace this new way of working.

Initially the school will be operating in a separate wing of the enormous kindergarten next door – this will be until our amazing new buildings are completed. The pictures attached will, I hope, give an indication of the quality of the facilities we will enjoy.

This article was submitted to us by Roger Fisher, one of the recruiters for a new school in Cixi, China.

If you have any comments / questions about any of this, if you have worked in a school offering a similar way of working, or if you fancy being part of what we are planning, do please get in touch using roger.fisher@xueda.com.

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Video Highlight

Video Highlight: Yew Chung International School of Beijing

January 13, 2013


There are so many international schools to work at in Beijing!  How do these schools stand out from each other?

Yew Chung International School of Beijing

The school campus seems to be next to some beautiful parks.

An interesting concept of the use of c0-prinicpals, one being an expat and one being a Chinese National.

They also provide the same for the classrooms apparently, by having co-teachers there are well (well at least in the primary school section).  How great to teach in two languages side by side!  It would be interesting to see more videos of what that might actually look like in a classroom lesson.

The school also has what seems to be an extensive music programme, giving the students opportunities to try out a variety of instruments at a young age.

It is important that an international school value and affirm the local language of the country they are in.  It would seem as if Yew Chung International School of Beijing is doing just that by including an extensive Mandarin Chinese programme.

Overall the campus facilities look quite nice!

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 131 international schools listed in China with 30 of them being in the city of Beijing.  The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right the link to each school.  Here are a just a few of them:

Beijing City International School (31 Comments)
International School of Beijing (15 Comments)
Western Academy Beijing (30 Comments)
Harrow International School (Beijing) (8 Comments)
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (36 Comments)
Beijing International Bilingual Academy (11 Comments)
Beijing National Day School (12 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Beijing, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  If you submit more than 30 comments and information, then you can get 1 year of premium access to International School Community for free!

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Great Resource

Great Resource: International School – a website about the many international schools in China.

March 23, 2012


Are you interested in reading about the numerous international schools in China?

Then you might want to check out the “International School!” website.

China is one of the countries where the economy is booming.  As a result, the number of international schools there is also booming.  Many teachers are finding themselves taking a chance on China and having a great time working at an international there.  Many of the international schools there offer some excellent benefits, thus making the choice to live and work an easy one.

China has so much to offer too in terms of culture and travel.  With an endless list of interesting places to visit, international schools teachers will never get bored when wanting to explore the country.

Some people think the language there (Mandarin Chinese) is too difficult to learn and acquire, but after working in China for two years myself, I met and worked with many expats there that had become very highly proficient.

The International School website has many different sections to it.

The advantages of International Schools

“Mr. Kai said that the nationalities of the students in his ACS schools are of more than 69 countries. Fitzmaurice from Nord Anglia said that all the children studying in the three schools in China received one lesson of Chinese mandarin once a week from the first beginning, so that when they leave they can reach the proficient level although they may not speak Chinese quite fluently…(more)”

The system and approval of International Schools

“The international schools for foreigners’ children are set in the name of middle school, primary school or kindergarten. The courses offered, the teaching materials and the teaching plans are determined by the school itself. Generally, the system is the same as that in the founder’s motherland, or the popular IB system, and even the school can set its system by itself.

The NCCT in China provides the authentication service for the international schools. The international schools which are set for more than three years can apply for authentication voluntarily. And each time of authentication is valid for 5 years. The international schools receiving this authentication means that the graduation certificates conferred by the international schools are directly acknowledged by China’s official.

Western Academy of Beijing is the first one to get this authentication and this authentication system is first proposed by Western Academy of Beijing…(more).

There are also separate pages for the 3 different sections at international schools (Primary, Middle School, and Secondary).  In each section, you can find the following information:  the latest news from international schools in that section, highlighted articles, the latest news that is recommended to read, a list of recommended international schools, articles about the perspective of the students in that section, a FAQ section, a section about when there are Open Days at various international schools, etc.

Primary Schools in China
Middle Schools in China
High Schools in China

Currently there are 106 different international schools listed in China on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.  The cities with the most international schools listed on our website are:

Hong Kong (22)

American International School (Hong Kong) (22 Comments)
Hong Kong Academy Primary School (14 Comments)
International Christian School (Hong Kong) (11 Comments)
Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong (11 Comments)

Shanghai (18)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (15 Comments)
Shanghai Community Int’l School (10 Comments)
Shanghai Rego International School (72 Comments)
Western International School of Shanghai (27 Comments)

Beijing (16)
Western Academy Beijing (23 Comments)
International School of Beijing (15 Comments)
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (10 Comments)
Beijing National Day School (12 Comments)

Taiwan (11)
Morrison Christian Academy (3 campuses) (13 Comments)
Ivy Collegiate Academy (7 Comments)

Guangzhou (5)
American International School of Guangzhou (12 Comments)
Alcanta International College (6 Comments)

Take a look at the numerous comments and information that have been submitted about these international schools in China!

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Highlighted Articles

The number of children at international schools reaches 3 million!

March 22, 2012


The latest figures published by ISC Research show that the number of children attending the world’s international schools has passed three million. This is phenomenal growth in just ten years. In 2002 there were one million international school students. It is this increasing demand for places which is driving the rapid expansion of international schools worldwide; a trend that ISC Research predicts will continue for the foreseeable future.

Ten years ago, the typical international school student was from an expatriate family. Today, that student is from a local family. The number of expatriate children attending international schools has not decreased, indeed there are many more . What has changed is the recognition by local families that international schools are a means of advancing to further education at some of the world’s best universities. “Parents of the next generation are looking towards international schools to satisfy the need for critical thinking rather than learning by rote,” says Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications at Taaleem which owns and manages 13 schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “The parents clearly see international schools as a route through for university opportunities.” It is this recognition, coupled with increased income, which is making attendance at an international school a real possibility for the wealthier local families. Today 80% of students at international schools are local children.

In a number of cities, this demand from both expat and local families, is outstripping supply. Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha all have significant problems. So much so, that many relocating expats with families are now demanding security of their school places before accepting new placements. In certain locations, it is the availability of good school places that is driving job decisions by expats rather than salaries and destinations. As a result of this demand, a number of countries are actively encouraging the growth of international schools including China, India, Malaysia, Korea, and the UAE.

International schools are typically fee-paying schools that deliver the curriculum wholly or partly in English (outside an English-speaking country). The good quality of learning at international schools is recognised the world over. Many of these schools follow, to a large extent, the English National Curriculum. Others deliver such highly respected international curricula as the International Baccalaureate and the International Primary Curriculum. Others deliver alternative national curricula such as American or Dutch. The best international schools have extremely good reputations, are accredited, and are used as models by national schools the world over.

ISC Research, the organisation that researches and analyses data on international schools worldwide predicts that the number of students in international schools will reach six million in another ten years and that the number of international schools will increase from 6,000 today to 10,000.

Managing Director of ISC Research, Nicholas Brummitt, says “The international school market has become big business. There are now a number of highly respected, multinational groups of schools driving growth forward. Examples of these are Taaleem with schools throughout the UAE and partnerships in other Middle East countries, WCL with schools in the US and Qatar, Nord Anglia with schools in China and Europe, Cognita with schools in the UK, Europe and Asia, ESOL with schools in a number of Middle East countries, Yew Chung Education Foundation with schools in Hong Kong, China and the US, and GEMS with schools in many parts of the world.  Most of these groups are expanding aggressively, either by buying existing schools, expanding current operations, or building new schools. There are also schools with campuses in several countries. These include a number of UK private schools with international operations such as Harrow (in Beijing, Bangkok with a third school in Hong Kong  opening in September this year) and Dulwich which has schools in China and is opening several more in Asia over the next few years.”

For more information about the international schools market visit www.iscresearch.com. ISC Research is the only organisation that supplies data and market analyses covering all the world’s English-medium international schools; data that it has been tracking for over twenty years. The latest market updates plus individual school information, news, statistical overviews, and country reports are all available from ISC Research.

For more information about what it is like to work at many of these international schools, make sure to visit www.internationschoolcommunity.com

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