Views #1509 | Intermediate (B1)

Student Life in China Part 1

Rufei talks about how students are very hard-working and study in a very competitive environment in China.

Todd: Rufei, you are from China. In America, Chinese students have a reputation of being very hard-working. Is that true?

Rufei: Yes, exactly. In my high school, in one class we have around 70 students in one class and everybody wants to be the top student, so everybody works so hard. I say my high school was kind of like a prison. You have to go to school every day from 6:35 AM to 9:40 PM.

Todd: Really? That long?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: That's over 12 hours; that's like 13, 14 hours a day!

Rufei: Yes, exactly.

Todd: How did you feel as a student studying that much?

Rufei: Sleepy.

Todd: I bet.

Rufei: Every day I'm so sleepy.

Todd: I can imagine. Do you think it was productive studying that much?

Rufei: I think their purpose just like as to stay as much time as we can in the school and we cannot get distracted by other stuff, so we always stay at school and we always focus on our studying ... We cannot know anything about the outside of the wall from school.

Todd: That's amazing. For such a long day, can you talk about the daily schedule? What was your schedule like everyday?

Rufei: From 6:50, we start to have class. From 6:50 until maybe 11:45; we have 45 minutes class and then 10 minutes break. We also have 30 minutes we have to do exercise on the playground and, in the afternoon, is the same routine. Then, we went to dinner around 6:00 to 7:00. From 7:00 to 9:40 we have to do our homework.

Todd: So, you study at school? It's not homework, it's school work; you don't actually go home, right?

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: That's crazy. How many classes would you have every day?

Rufei: Eight classes.

Todd: What were the subjects?

Rufei: We separate the subject. If you learn more Mathematics, we learn mathematics, English, and Chinese, and physics, chemistry, and biology.

Todd: That's very rigorous. Did you enjoy all the subjects?

Rufei: Yeah. I love physics and biology and chemistry.

Todd: Now you are training to be a doctor?

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: That's fantastic. Did you know you wanted to be a doctor when you were in high school?

Rufei: I kind of know because my father is a doctor and he was kind of forcing me to study medicine.

Todd: Nice. We have a phrase in English; we say, "Follow in your father's footsteps." You definitely are following in your father's footsteps. That's great. Is your mother a doctor?

Rufei: My mother is a businesswoman now.

Todd: Okay, great. You had all these courses. In America, there's a big controversy about tests, that the kids take too many tests; it's too test driven. What about in China? Do you have a lot of tests?

Rufei: Yeah, I have test every month. They will make a list of every single person; how much score you got in this test-

Todd: Whoa. They rank everybody to see-

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: That's very competitive.

Rufei: Yeah. I think that's kind of bad for our emotion.

Todd: Yeah, so it creates a lot of stress.

Rufei: Yeah. We have 2000 students in one grade.

Todd: That is crazy. So, you can be number 2000, you can be the lowest student?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: And they put that out there?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: Really? They could never do that in America.

Rufei: Yeah, I think so.

Todd: Oh my gosh. Do you think that's a good idea?

Rufei: Depends on the person.

Todd: Right; yeah. Wow. You have a lot of pressure. Did you feel pressure from your parents, from your peers, from your teachers?

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: Who gave you the most pressure?

Rufei: Myself.

Todd: That's good.

Rufei: I don't want to be lazy. I don't want to be worse, so I have to always work hard to chasing other people ... Everybody wants to be the best, so everybody worked really, really hard. Even we have breaking time, they don't break at all.

Todd: Seriously?

Rufei: Yes.

Todd: What do they do during the break?

Rufei: They do questions.

Todd: Wow. They quiz each other? The students quiz each other or they just do homework?

Rufei: They do their homework and they find out what problem they've had and they solve the problem with teachers or other students. They just starting all day; they can't do that.

Todd: That's amazing. Kids do this 14, 15 hours a day?

Rufei: Yeah.

Todd: Wow. That's really good for China!

Rufei: We don't have that much summer vacation and winter vacation. In winter vacation, we have two weeks because of the Chinese New Year; it's about two weeks off. We have two weeks in winter vacation and one week summer vacation only.

Todd: Is that enough?

Rufei: Of course not. Even we have vacation, the teacher would give us a lot of homework to do.

Todd: That is very impressive.

Rufei: This is very not good experience.

Todd: We'll talk about that in the next interview; I think that's a very interesting point.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson



Chinese students have a reputation of being very hard-working.

A reputation relates to the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something. Notice the following:

  1. He has a good reputation. Everyone likes him.
  2. That restaurant has a bad reputation. Only tourists eat there.



We cannot get distracted by other stuff

When you are distracted, you cannot focus on something because something else gets your attention. Notice the following:

  1. I get distracted when I study at home.
  2. Try not to get distracted by the news.

That's crazy


That's crazy. How many classes would you have every day?

The phrase 'That's crazy!' shows that someone is impressed by something. Notice the following:

  • I read this 500 page book in a day.
  • That's crazy.

Follow in (someone's) footsteps


You definitely are following in your father's footsteps.

When you follow in someone's footsteps, you take the same career path as someone you know, usually a family member. Notice the following:

  1. I followed in my mom's footsteps and became a teacher like her.
  2. I followed in my dad's footsteps and joined the army after college.

put out


And they put that out there?

Here, to put something out, means to post it for everyone to see. Notice the following:

  1. The theater put out a call for actors in the new play.
  2. The school just put out the new fall schedule.



You have a lot of pressure.

Here, pressure means mental stress. Notice the following:

  1. We had a lot of pressure to succeed.
  2. It is not healthy to put too much pressure on students.

Vocabulary Quiz

reputation • distracted • that's crazy
footsteps • put out • pressure
  1. I have to find a place to work alone. I easily get .
  2. He wants his son to follow in his to have a secure life.
  3. You don't have to family problems on social media.
  4. I board the plane a few minutes before it took off, and !
  5. He got anxious because of too much from his parents.
  6. Even if he has a bad , he still decided to go on with his campaign.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

Related Video - One Minute English

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Hello, and welcome to elllo. My name is Todd Beuckens. I've been an ESL teacher for 25 years. I created elllo to provide teachers and students free audio lessons and learning materials not usually found in commercial textbooks.
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