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CHINA BOUND: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC
Your Chinese host institution can assist you in finding appropriate Chinese schools.
Beyond elementary school, if children cannot attend the International School in Beijing, parents rely on several options. In Beijing, one father sent his son to the Beijing Language Institute.
My second son, 16, has been going to Beijing Language Institute. There are about 1,500 foreign students studying Chinese at the Institute from some 50 countries. It is about a 20-minute bike ride from where we live. He has done well thus far and covered two years of college level Chinese in about 4 months. The tuition is about $1,500 a year.
Some families opt for a combination of Chinese middle school and college-preparatory correspondence courses or home study, and some rely exclusively on either correspondence courses or home study. The books Home Style Teaching: A Handbook for Parents and Teachers, by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, and Homeschooling for Excellence, by David and Micki Colfax, are recommended by people involved in homeschooling in China. Other children have taken correspondence courses through the University of Nebraska School of Continuing Education, the American School in Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin extension. Many parents hire Chinese (and even French) tutors for the children, and some parents have tutored their children themselves in coordination with their children's teachers in the United States.
THE ACADEMIC CALENDAR
The academic year in China is broken in two by the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year (chunjie), a celebration that symbolically marks the end of winter. The month-long holiday after chunjie, which usually falls during the last week of January or the first of February, marks the end of the academic term that begins in late August or early September. The second term begins around the end of February—depending on the date of chunjie—and runs through late June.
The pace in most work units slows considerably during these holidays because staff often travel to visit relatives or sightsee. Many foreigners enjoy celebrating these holidays with Chinese friends and colleagues, where gatherings involve the making of traditional Chinese New Year's dumplings. If your research plans require meetings with specific scholars or continuation of work during one of these holidays, be sure to make arrangements as far in advance as possible, recognizing that your plans could force your coworkers to give up their vacation time.
Foreigners are given time off to observe Chinese holidays, and many institutions schedule trips or other activities during semester breaks.