Bilingual approach helps to broaden horizons
The young applicant from Shanghai appears a very strong candidate if you scan his glamorous 15-page resume. He has excellent language skills: he can recite more than 100 traditional Chinese poems and read more than 500 books in English a year.
He excels at science: he loves solving Sudoku puzzles and enjoys reading about logical reasoning and geometry. Moreover, he has gained a basic grounding in the theories of density, magnetism and gravity through experiments.
He is also gifted at arts and sports: he plays piano, loves dancing and has produced more than 150 drawings and paintings. He also loves soccer and swimming, and has reached a high level of proficiency at Go, a strategic board game that is popular across Asia.
In terms of personality, he describes himself as vibrant, confident, curious, resilient, friendly and considerate.
However, this person is not a passionate job seeker — instead, he is a 5-year-old boy hoping to win a place at the prestigious Shanghai Starriver Bilingual School.
When the resume was leaked online in early November, it sparked heated debate. Some netizens said it outshone the resumes of many firstclass university graduates, while others doubted if such a busy child could really be happy.
However, the boy’s family is just one of many affluent households in which the parents are turning away from China’s traditional exam-oriented education system and embracing more international and diverse methods.
Though the length of the boy’s resume and the experiences listed may appear exceptional or even daunting, they are actually relatively normal among applicants for private bilingual or international schools, according to Li Ai, director and founder of Beijing Blossoming Kids Co, a provider of after-school education in the capital.
Li, who spent more than 10 years as a teacher at an international school in Beijing, said that after 2008 she noticed a sharp rise in the number of Chinese, as opposed to Western, children joining her class.
Recognizing the burgeoning private market, she left the school in 2016 and founded her company to offer extracurricular classes in English and math to help Chinese children better adapt to external courses such as the international baccalaureate diploma program, which is used across the globe, and A Levels, which are primarily used for university entry in the United Kingdom.
The company also helps to prepare applications to international schools in China. According to Li, some students’ resumes can easily stretch to 10 to 20 pages and sometimes parents even attach a video.
“When parents come and tell me which school they want their child to attend, I ask them if the kid has studied piano or general arts, and question them about the child’s interests and how they display them,” she said.
An interest in such activities as Peking Opera and charity art exhibitions are among the must-haves for a child to secure a place at a select international school, she added.
Though some observers may be concerned that these experiences will add to the burden on youngsters, many parents believe that a
Were taking extracurricular classes
Had taken extra classes, but were not taking them when the survey was conducted Had never taken extra classes
30.9 24.4 18.7
State public schools International schools Overseas study
North America Australia Japan/South Korea