Views #1510 | Intermediate 5

Student Life in China Part 2

Rufei talks about academics in China and the challenges students face.
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Todd: Rufei, you said that your education system is very strict and you study like 15 hours a day.

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Okay so, if you were in charge would you keep the system the same way?

Rufei: It depends on the person. I think there should be a place that's as strict as my high school. You can choose to send your children to go there or if the students themselves, they want to go to that school, they can go. I think that's really, really motivative to student's to study hard because everybody do the same and they are trying their best to be the best.

Todd: Wow. Yeah we have a phrase in English like, "A rising tide lifts all boats", and I think it's kind of the same. So if it's really rigorous for most people, it's gonna pull everybody up.

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Rufei, you said that your education system is very strict and you study like 15 hours a day.

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Okay so, if you were in charge would you keep the system the same way?

Rufei: It depends on the person. I think there should be a place that's as strict as my high school. You can choose to send your children to go there or if the students themselves, they want to go to that school, they can go. I think that's really, really motivative to student's to study hard because everybody do the same and they are trying their best to be the best.

Todd: Wow. Yeah we have a phrase in English like, "A rising tide lifts all boats", and I think it's kind of the same. So if it's really rigorous for most people, it's gonna pull everybody up.

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Okay. There's nothing you would change? Like if you were in charge would you give maybe a little more vacation time? Would you start the day later? Would you make classes smaller?

Rufei: If I can choose I will definitely don't choose my school because that was horrible for me because I need a lot of sleep than normal people, but I cannot have that much time to sleep. So I always sleep on the class, and when somebody found out that I am sleeping on the class they will decrease the score of my class.

Todd: Oh, that's serious.

Rufei: Yes, very serious. Yeah, your teacher would punish you to write a paper like, "I am sorry I decreased the score of our class, I shouldn't sleep on the class", and I have to write it for like an hour to write that stuff.

Todd: That is very harsh.

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: I think though a lot of people, when they hear stories like that they actually are a little bit envious, especially parents or teachers. Because in the rest of the world it's not that, students don't try that hard.

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: So that's kind of special, actually.

Rufei: Yeah, I think that's the special point of China.

Todd: Wow. So, what time did you have to get up every day to get to school at 6:45?

Rufei: I have to get up at 6:00.

Todd: Oh, well that was not too bad. That's pretty fast, you wake up at 6:00, you get to school by 6:45.

Rufei: Yeah, I can wear my clothes pretty fast and directly get on my father's car and eat on my father's car and put my socks on, on my father's car.

Todd: Wow! Talk about streamlined, very mobile. That's great. What about the tests? It's really controversial in the US about standardized tests. Rather than just learning, the students often have to prepare for tests. In your country is there also a big movement just to have a lot of testing?

Rufei: We have a test each month, and we only do paper tests. The questions can be really difficult, yeah always very, very difficult. In my case, I'm in the middle ...

Todd: Middle of the pack, as we say.

Rufei: Yeah, the middle of the pack. For mathematics, we have totally 150 scores and probably I can get 60 to 70.

Todd: Wow, that's a big range. Do some students get 100%?

Rufei: No.

Todd: No?

Rufei: If you get more than 120, you are really brilliant. So the question's always really, really difficult.

Todd: Can the teacher get 150?

Rufei: I'm not sure.

Todd: Well I have to admit, because even English teachers will tell you, and they're lying if they don't admit this, even on tests like the TOEFL, it's very hard for a teacher to get 100%. Not because of knowledge, but because of concentration.

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Right?

Rufei: Exactly. We have a lot of questions and some of them, they are kind of tricky.

Todd: Right.

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: So they mislead you a little bit.

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: Oh no, that's great. So you took all these courses, what was the course you were best at and the course you were worst at?

Rufei: English was my worst at.

Todd: Oh no, your English is wonderful! Really?

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: Oh I disagree.

Rufei: It was.

Todd: Oh, OK. How do you learn English in China?

Rufei: Actually, my speaking skills I gathered from my traveling, I did solo traveling last year.

Todd: Wow, you've learned a lot, quickly.

Rufei: Thank you.

Todd: That's great! That's really inspirational I think for a lot of the students that listen to this site. One year?

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: Fantastic.

Rufei: But the thing I have to mention about is, you have to know a lot of words. Before you start to speak English, you have to know what you know. Like you have to remember a lot of words, and then you can use it when you have to use it.

Todd: Okay, right. So English was tough, not easy.

Rufei: Not easy, for everything you have to learn. Learning isn't easy and funny stuff for everyone. Starting is hard and it's kind of betray the human ...

Todd: Spirit?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Wow, that's crazy. So how many students would be in an English class? I hear that China has huge English classes. Like there might be 100 students in one class.

Rufei: It can be, but it depends. In my high school we have the same class at the same classroom always, and in my university we have 30 students in my English.

Todd: Oh okay, that's kind of normal. That's still a lot, for an English teacher that's a lot. Were your teachers usually Chinese, or an international teacher?

Rufei: Chinese teacher.

Todd: Chinese teacher, okay. And so there was a big stress on grammar and vocabulary, things like that?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: How about listening?

Rufei: We only do the audio listening test. So it's always the same pronunciation.

Todd: Yeah, so you don't have a lot of variety of accents?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Yeah. Okay, well you have to introduce ELLO to China, the website.

Rufei: Yeah, cool.

Todd: What was your best subject?

Rufei: My best subject was mathematics.

Todd: Oh great. Yeah, that's impressive. I have a degree in economics and there's a lot of math. I went to a good school but I was not strong at math and I was terrible at physics. And physics and economics are kind of related, but not really, I did not do very well in physics. So how are you at physics?

Rufei: Actually I love all the math stuff, but also included physics, because you also have to use a lot of mathematics on your physics. For the physics you have to know the formula very well, then you can use it. If you don't know the formula very well, when the question is there you cannot ...

Todd: Apply?

Rufei: ... apply that.

Todd: Yeah. Oh yeah, I agree, it's tough. I am very impressed with you because whenever I meet somebody who is good at math or physics, I have great admiration. My degree was math heavy, but math was not my strong point.

Rufei: So what was your strong point?

Todd: That's a good question. I was never a good student at anything. How I got to a good university is actually surprising, but I was always middle of the road. Middle of the pack, as we said. Always B- student, in everything.

Rufei: I see.

Todd: Yeah, I was not exceptional like you.

Rufei: You don't have to be very good at starting, but you can handle your life very easily. That's also an important thing for a human.

Todd: That is true, I do agree with that. But I think if I was a student in China, I would be that Mister 2000.

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Okay. There's nothing you would change? Like if you were in charge would you give maybe a little more vacation time? Would you start the day later? Would you make classes smaller?

Rufei: If I can choose I will definitely don't choose my school because that was horrible for me because I need a lot of sleep than normal people, but I cannot have that much time to sleep. So I always sleep on the class, and when somebody found out that I am sleeping on the class they will decrease the score of my class.

Todd: Oh, that's serious.

Rufei: Yes, very serious. Yeah, your teacher would punish you to write a paper like, "I am sorry I decreased the score of our class, I shouldn't sleep on the class", and I have to write it for like an hour to write that stuff.

Todd: That is very harsh.

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: I think though a lot of people, when they hear stories like that they actually are a little bit envious, especially parents or teachers. Because in the rest of the world it's not that, students don't try that hard.

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: So that's kind of special, actually.

Rufei: Yeah, I think that's the special point of China.

Todd: Wow. So, what time did you have to get up every day to get to school at 6:45?

Rufei: I have to get up at 6:00.

Todd: Oh, well that was not too bad. That's pretty fast, you wake up at 6:00, you get to school by 6:45.

Rufei: Yeah, I can wear my clothes pretty fast and directly get on my father's car and eat on my father's car and put my socks on, on my father's car.

Todd: Wow! Talk about streamlined, very mobile. That's great. What about the tests? It's really controversial in the US about standardized tests. Rather than just learning, the students often have to prepare for tests. In your country is there also a big movement just to have a lot of testing?

Rufei: We have a test each month, and we only do paper tests. The questions can be really difficult, yeah always very, very difficult. In my case, I'm in the middle ...

Todd: Middle of the pack, as we say.

Rufei: Yeah, the middle of the pack. For mathematics, we have totally 150 scores and probably I can get 60 to 70.

Todd: Wow, that's a big range. Do some students get 100%?

Rufei: No.

Todd: No?

Rufei: If you get more than 120, you are really brilliant. So the question's always really, really difficult.

Todd: Can the teacher get 150?

Rufei: I'm not sure.

Todd: Well I have to admit, because even English teachers will tell you, and they're lying if they don't admit this, even on tests like the TOEFL, it's very hard for a teacher to get 100%. Not because of knowledge, but because of concentration.

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Right?

Rufei: Exactly. We have a lot of questions and some of them, they are kind of tricky.

Todd: Right.

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: So they mislead you a little bit.

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: Oh no, that's great. So you took all these courses, what was the course you were best at and the course you were worst at?

Rufei: English was my worst at.

Todd: Oh no, your English is wonderful! Really?

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: Oh I disagree.

Rufei: It was.

Todd: Oh, OK. How do you learn English in China?

Rufei: Actually, my speaking skills I gathered from my traveling, I did solo traveling last year.

Todd: Wow, you've learned a lot, quickly.

Rufei: Thank you.

Todd: That's great! That's really inspirational I think for a lot of the students that listen to this site. One year?

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: Fantastic.

Rufei: But the thing I have to mention about is, you have to know a lot of words. Before you start to speak English, you have to know what you know. Like you have to remember a lot of words, and then you can use it when you have to use it.

Todd: Okay, right. So English was tough, not easy.

Rufei: Not easy, for everything you have to learn. Learning isn't easy and funny stuff for everyone. Starting is hard and it's kind of betray the human ...

Todd: Spirit?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Wow, that's crazy. So how many students would be in an English class? I hear that China has huge English classes. Like there might be 100 students in one class.

Rufei: It can be, but it depends. In my high school we have the same class at the same classroom always, and in my university we have 30 students in my English.

Todd: Oh okay, that's kind of normal. That's still a lot, for an English teacher that's a lot. Were your teachers usually Chinese, or an international teacher?

Rufei: Chinese teacher.

Todd: Chinese teacher, okay. And so there was a big stress on grammar and vocabulary, things like that?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: How about listening?

Rufei: We only do the audio listening test. So it's always the same pronunciation.

Todd: Yeah, so you don't have a lot of variety of accents?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Yeah. Okay, well you have to introduce ELLO to China, the website.

Rufei: Yeah, cool.

Todd: What was your best subject?

Rufei: My best subject was mathematics.

Todd: Oh great. Yeah, that's impressive. I have a degree in economics and there's a lot of math. I went to a good school but I was not strong at math and I was terrible at physics. And physics and economics are kind of related, but not really, I did not do very well in physics. So how are you at physics?

Rufei: Actually I love all the math stuff, but also included physics, because you also have to use a lot of mathematics on your physics. For the physics you have to know the formula very well, then you can use it. If you don't know the formula very well, when the question is there you cannot ...

Todd: Apply?

Rufei: ... apply that.

Todd: Yeah. Oh yeah, I agree, it's tough. I am very impressed with you because whenever I meet somebody who is good at math or physics, I have great admiration. My degree was math heavy, but math was not my strong point.

Rufei: So what was your strong point?

Todd: That's a good question. I was never a good student at anything. How I got to a good university is actually surprising, but I was always middle of the road. Middle of the pack, as we said. Always B- student, in everything.

Rufei: I see.

Todd: Yeah, I was not exceptional like you.

Rufei: You don't have to be very good at starting, but you can handle your life very easily. That's also an important thing for a human.

Todd: That is true, I do agree with that. But I think if I was a student in China, I would be that Mister 2000.

Learn vocabulary from the lesson!

A rising tide lifts all boats

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A rising tide lifts all boats

The idiom "a rising tide lifts all boats" means that if things are going well, it benefits everyone. Notice the following:

  1. When the economy improves, everyone benefits.
  2. Yes, a rising tide lifts all boats

middle of the pack

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Middle of the pack, as we say.

The phrase 'middle of the pack' means someone is average and not exceptional. Notice the following:

  1. In school, my scores were in the middle of the pack.
  2. My city is not great, and not bad. It is in the middle of the pack compared to other cities.

exceptional

image

I was not exceptional like you.

When something is exceptional, it is unusually good and high-quality. Notice the following:

  1. Your work is exceptional. Great job.
  2. The flavor of food was exceptional. It was so delicious.

find out

image

Somebody found out that I am sleeping

When so find out something, you learn details or information about it. Notice the following:

  1. She found out her boyfriend was actually married.
  2. Did you find out when the movie starts?

impressed / impressive

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I am very impressed with you .

When something is impressive, people admire its qualities. Notice the following:

  1. I was impressed with his French. He sounds native.
  2. Her resume is very impressive.

heavy

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My degree was math heavy,

Here, if a course is math heavy, they means it requires a lot of math. Notice the following:

  1. Many English classes are very grammar heavy.
  2. Engineering courses are always math heavy.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Two free worksheets related to the topic and vocabulary of the lesson! Answer key included.