Posts Tagged 'School'

A for effort

I spoke to one of my Chinese students today about taking the TOEFL test for college admission. He is one of the brightest and motivated students I’ve ever taught, and wants entry into a top US university. The TOEFL score is just one component of his application, a
standardized measure of his English fluency.

I asked him how he was preparing and he said: “ETS [the company that runs the test] always gives China the same questions that were offered in USA last year. So I simply download all the released questions, subtract all the questions that have been tested in China so far this year, and focus on the remaining ones. It’s a way Chinese students can get such high scores.”

I didn’t know whether to praise him or scold him. This is already a country with a reputation for cheating on tests, but is this student really cheating, or just being industrious? I figure in the end that ETS has to know this is happening, but how could they do so in good faith? They are the ones marketing their standard, yet there’s this tremendous loophole for Chinese students.

At least my student will learn all of the English on those remaining questions!


Rich Talk

JM does some work each week tutoring small groups of Chinese students who are learning English to study abroad. These students obviously come from families with money, as they can afford the hefty fees involved with going to a foreign country for college.

During conversation practice, JM got a feel for how the well-to-do students like to kid with each other. The topic was: My parents’ work.

“What does your father do?”

“He’s in government. He’s the 5th most important man in the city.”

“Really? How did he get there?”

“Lots of hard work.”

Here’s where his classmate chimed in:

“And paying lots of money!” [i.e.- bribes]

JM asked this student what his father’s business was.

“He runs a metal factory.”

“What kind of metal does he make?”


Here his colleague had his revenge:

“Your dad’s factory makes pollution!”

Hmm.. Some things we hear about back home in the States seem to have some basis in reality here after all. The transparency of it to the young students themselves makes it all the more remarkable.

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April 2018
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