Differences Between Chinese And American High Schools ( Part One)

After I moved to the United States from China, many people has been asking me about the differences between Chinese and American high schools. Those people include people I know from both countries. I am lucky to have high school experience in both countries. Since people are curious about the different educational system between western and eastern world, I am very glad to talk about the differences I know between these two educational systems. I will try my best to make sure that the differences that will be explored in this post are true and are without any biases.

This is a picture of a typical Chinese high school classroom. Above the blackboard are the names of the most famous Chinese Universities. (Photo by amosnan)

This is a picture of a typical Chinese high school classroom. Above the blackboard are the names of the most famous Chinese Universities like Peking University. (Photo by amosnan)

Difference One: Teachers Move v. Students Move

In Chinese high school, students stay in the same classroom for the whole school year. Instead, different teachers come in for each period. Different from Chinese high school, American high school students have to change their classroom for each period.

Difference Two: How Many Years Of High School

In the United States, high school is from 9th grade to 12th grade. However, in China, high school is usually from 10th grade to 12th grade.

Difference Three: Definition Of “Class”

American high school call each grade a “class”. For example, when I talk about senior class, it includes all students in 12th grade. But in China, each grade is divided into small classes, because students do not change classroom for the whole school year. The Chinese high school I used to go to has 18 classes in my grade level.

Difference Four: Classmates

In American high schools, you can have classmates from different grade levels and you most likely have different classmates in each period. But in Chinese high school, you would have the same classmates for your whole high school career.

Difference Five: Schedule

In Chinese high schools, you would take the same exactly courses as anyone else in your grade level, except there would be several teachers for each course. But you and everyone else would have different schedules for each weekday. For example, every 10th grader has to take geography twice a week, but you may take geography in first period on Monday and in fifth period on Thursday.

Difference Six: Class Size

Here in the United States, class size includes everyone in that grade level. Usually, the class size is from 200 to 400 people. In China, since each grade level is divided into small classes, class size is usually from about 50 to 70, so the entire grade level can have more than one thousand people! Another way to look at this is that American students are in a classroom of 20 to 25 students for each period. Chinese students take all courses with the same group of about 50 to 70 people  for each period. The large population is one of the reason why Chinese schools are so crowded and also the reason why there is much more competition for college entrance in China.

Read this article by U.S News and this article by China Insight to learn more.

Also, check this post on Education in Asia.

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