Fruit­ful hol­i­day Young Chi­nese stu­dents go­ing abroad on study tours

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - YOUTH -

More Chi­nese stu­dents are putting over­seas study tours on their agenda this sum­mer. Con­sist­ing of lan­guage cour­ses, sight­see­ing and in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion, study tours meet the de­mands of Chi­nese par­ents and stu­dents for a long and fruit­ful hol­i­day, de­spite costs of around $4,000 to $6,000.

This year saw the num­ber of stu­dents go­ing abroad for study tours in­crease by nearly 40 per­cent, with reser­va­tions for tours start­ing al­most a year ago, ac­cord­ing to English First, a SwedishEnglish ed­u­ca­tion com­pany in China.

A re­cent re­port pub­lished by a Chi­nese tourism web­site showed most study tour par­tic­i­pants were from mid­dle schools. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port re­leased by tu­niu.com in June, 73 per­cent of their par­tic­i­pants in 2016 were mid­dle school stu­dents, 11 per­cent pri­mary school stu­dents and only 3 per­cent col­lege stu­dents.

Stu­dents of a younger age seem to be the up­ward trend.

“The big­gest growth of our clients in the past few years is among pri­mary school stu­dents, over 50 per­cent,” says Joe Chiu, coun­try man­ager of China’s EF In­ter­na­tional Lan­guage Cen­ter.

Un­like study tour par­tic­i­pants in other coun­tries who are at least 13 or 14 years old, Chi­nese par­ents seem to be more will­ing to let their chil­dren go on tours at a very young age, Chiu says, not­ing that the youngest Chi­nese par­tic­i­pant in his pro­gram was only 5 years old.

Ac­cord­ing to a blue book on global study tours re­leased by New Ori­en­tal Ed­u­ca­tion & Tech­nol­ogy Group, ex­pand­ing chil­dren’s hori­zons was the ma­jor goal for par­ents, while im­prov­ing lan­guage skills, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­de­pen­dence and ex­plor­ing cul­tural di­ver­sity were also pop­u­lar.

Zhan Fu­man, a 14-year-old from Guangzhou, Guang­dong prov­ince, cur­rently on a 15-day study tour in Aus­tralia with a price tag of 32,800 yuan ($4,820), went to the United States for her first over­seas study tour last win­ter.

“She has been much more con­fi­dent and in­de­pen­dent since her first tour in the United States and learned to use knowl­edge from books and real life com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” says Zhu Wanxia, Zhan’s mother.

Go­ing on a study tour does not lead to go­ing to a for­eign univer­sity in the fu­ture, Zhu says, adding that they pre­fer their child go to a top Chi­nese univer­sity in­stead.

Ac­cord­ing to Chiu, only half of the stu­dents in their study tour pro­grams went abroad for higher ed­u­ca­tion.

“Some par­ents con­sider stay­ing in China as a bet­ter choice for their chil­dren, and such over­seas study tours are more about qual­i­ties be­yond learn­ing by the books,” says Chen Jing jing, Chiu’s co-worker from English First.

Ac­cord­ing to China’s Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, over 80 per­cent of Chi­nese stu­dents who stud­ied abroad re­turned to China in 2016.

Be­ing the world’s sec­ond­largest econ­omy, China is hun­gry for tal­ent in all as­pects.

Ac­cord­ing to the Out­line of China’s Na­tional Plan for Medium and Long-Term Ed­u­ca­tion Re­form and Devel­op­ment (2010-20) is­sued by the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry in July 2010, China called for more in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­op­er­a­tion to give the coun­try’s youth in­ter­na­tional hori­zons, mak­ing them bet­ter un­der­stand in­ter­na­tional rules.

The min­istry also en­cour­ages pri­mary and mid­dle schools to put short study tours in stu­dent cur­ric­ula.

PHOTOS BY JIA ZHUTAO AND NAN SHAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Top: Chi­nese and in­ter­na­tional stu­dents visit Stan­ford Univer­sity this month. Above: Travel com­pa­nies find study tours are a win­ner.

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