Understanding one’s own culture and how it differs from others’ cultures is an important first step to building global competence. Customs, diets, languages, worldviews, and belief systems vary widely from one culture to another. It is important, then, for our international students to be aware that, when they come to our American schools, they will experience many new ways of looking at and navigating within the world. In the same way, our American teachers, often used to homogenous classrooms of domestic students, will find that they will need to employ different strategies to support their international population.
Our video series “You Are Coming to America” addresses many of the differences in culture the international student faces, focusing largely upon the educational experience. In the same way, our Faculty and Staff Resource videos provide support for our partner schools, explaining the struggles international students typically face and how to best address their needs. These videos provide critical information to help bridge the cultural gap and ensure smooth transitions for both students and schools.
Additionally, you can find more information about the countries we recruit from in the links below.
With globalization, the Chinese are placing a greater focus on education than ever before. Compared to American education, however, Chinese education is still regarded as exam-oriented, especially in middle and high school. The Chinese classroom has typically been teacher-centered, relying on lecture, note taking, and rote memorization. Chinese educators expect their students to perform well on every exam, and they focus on teaching students how to earn high scores. At the end of high school, students take the gao kao, an extremely rigorous exam which determines college acceptance and placement.
Chinese students are typically good at studying, are obedient in class, and have a strong command of school subjects. They may be lacking, however, in skills necessary to perform well in the American classroom when they first arrive. Chinese students, used to less interactive classrooms, may have difficulty at first when asked to participate in discussions or work collaboratively with their peers. Used to rote memorization, they may also find creative or critical reading and writing tasks problematic. Fortunately, Chinese students are eager to do well, and they will work hard to become competitive academically
Vietnam is one of the fastest growing markets for international students seeking education in the United States. Vietnam began to globalize in 1992, and its education system has been growing rapidly since then.
High schools in Vietnam begin with grade 10 and conclude at grade 12. The Vietnamese curriculum places a strong emphasis on math, science, and literature and offers few elective courses such as art/music or team sports.
Vietnamese high schools also do not have Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which is one of the reasons why it is appealing for Vietnamese students to study in the U.S. In Vietnam, all students must take the same courses in school, and if they want to specialize, they must find a private teacher or tutor outside of school. Such additional studies can make their school day as late as 9:00 p.m.
At the end of high school, students have to pass a comprehensive examination that assesses their knowledge. Students can choose the universities, colleges, or vocational schools they want to go to, but they have to achieve a minimum entrance score. Public schools have higher entrance scores than private.
While students from other countries may attend high school in the U.S. all 4 years, many Brazilian students prefer to study for a semester or a year at most. It is very rare that a student will stay more than 2 years. Also, Brazilians typically come for 11th and/or 12th grade, the end of their high school years rather than the beginning. Unlike students in the U.S., Brazilian students are not used to having much homework, usually not more than a few hours/per week. Due to this difference, there may be an adjustment period for students when they first come to an American high school. The education system in Brazil focuses more on test taking and less on doing work outside of school.
The grading scale in Brazil is also different from the U.S. Brazilian school systems have a numeric grading scale of 0-10, with 5 being a minimum passing grade.
The Brazilian students who will study High School abroad should be aware of MEC’s (Ministerio da Educacao e Cultura) requirements for equivalency of High School education abroad. If the rules are not followed, the student may need to repeat the school year when they return to Brazil. MEC requires at least five subjects:
- Local Language: English
- Social Studies: History or Geography
- Physical Education (Sports)
- Mathematics (for example, Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, etc)
- Science: Biology or Chemistry or Physics
Highly Suggested: Electives (Art, Drama, Music, Electronics, Dance, etc)
Brazilian students also tend to be independent and are often very outgoing and outspoken. They also typically enjoy time outside of the classroom, with going to the beach or playing sports as some of their favorite past times. They like to explore and experience new cultures and are generally more interested in the experience they will have while attending school in the U.S., rather than the education they receive.