Challenging foreign students need better teachers

Shanghai Education Commission has accredited 404 courses taught in English for international students in local universities since 2013.
Dong Jun / SHINE

A foreign student registers at the first day of the new semester at Shanghai Jiao Tong University on September 8, 2019.

Shanghai Education Commission has accredited 404 courses taught in English for international students in local universities since 2013.

According to the commission, the number of international students has increased from 50,557 in 2012 to 60,870 in 2018. The number of international students pursuing college degrees reached a record 22,130 last year.

Du Xiaoli, director of the institute of human resources development at Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences, in charge of assessment and accreditation of courses taught in English, said local teachers still needed to improve both their teaching and language skills.

An Uzbek student at Shanghai University, who asked to remain anonymous, told Shanghai Daily that some of the courses were well designed and interesting, but others were boring.

“Some teachers have prepared a lot of material, but only lecture without really interacting with us,” he said. “It’s easy to fall asleep in such a class.”

Cheng Yu, an associate professor at Tongji University, has taught international students about modern China for 10 years. She said teaching could be a real challenge.

“For me, language was the biggest issue at the beginning but gradually it became how to break down false stereotypes about China, deep-rooted in the minds of some foreigners,” she said. “Now, I always ask students to research my topics in advance and I organize all kinds of discussions to get them more involved and find out the truth by themselves.”

Cheng confessed that background knowledge was a challenge. Foreign students are more likely to ask questions or even challenge teachers.

“You really need to be prepared and be patient in discussions with them,” she said.

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