About the Host School
SFLS is an elite academic school in Shenzhen and has 2700 students on roll. It has a strong academic focus, the atmosphere is orderly and conservative but not strict, and students in general respect the school and are aware of their opportunity to attend such a high level institution.
The spacious, well landscaped campus is located at one end of Shenzhen and is somewhat removed from the noise and traffic of the city. It is set at the base of a green mountain range. The classrooms have basic technology, but the science labs are well equipped. All classrooms and labs are air-conditioned.
About the AP Centre
The center was established in March of 2010 and presently has about 240 students. There are 12 teachers, a center principal who teaches part-time and 10 experienced Chinese college counselors.
The center teaches year 2 and 3 students (in other words, juniors and seniors). The AP classes taught are: Economics, History, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, Environmental Science and Chemistry. Literature in English is also taught to all students. The center has acomputer lab, a classroom for each class of students, and well equipped science labs. There are many after school clubs run by the main school. There is a high level of collegiality among our teachers.
Since 2014 we have offered Cambridge A-levelcourses and exams to a small cohort of our students. These students mostly plan to attend university in the UK, Hong Kong, Canada or Australia. We currently offer full A-levels in Maths, Economics, Physics and Chemistry.
The biggest challenge is being a small part of a large Chinese high school. Adapting to the main school's policies, schedules and procedures requires patience and flexibility. However, one's daily teaching isn't greatly affected by the main school. Moreover, the main school principal and center director are very supportive of the center and our teachers.
Our students are generally extremely polite and friendly and will work hard for a competent and motivating teacher. Their English abilities range from adequate to excellent. All want to attend college abroad; almost all in the US. The greatest benefit to being a teacher at our center is working with our motivated students. If you plan challenging and interesting lessons and show you care about their learning, they will work hard for you and be appreciative of your efforts.
Shenzhen is one of China’s most modern, rich, clean and green cities. Many neighborhoods have pleasant parks and sidewalks for strolling. Air pollution is noticeable by US standards but good by Chinese standards. Many say Shenzhen has the best weather in China. The city is stretched out over many miles with many distinct neighborhoods so there isn’t a single downtown. There are modern, high quality shopping malls in the city along with a range of Chinese and Western restaurants and bars. One can get to Hong Kong easily by public transportation.
The school will help you find an apartment when you arrive or you can do so on your own. If you are new to China, the first choice is more prudent. In choosing an apartment, make sure it is near where most of the current teachers live so you can ride the Dipont mini-bus to and from school. Or as an alternative, be sure there is a Shenzhen Foreign Languages School teacher bus stop very near. Some teachers who live near school take public buses to and from work. There is no metro line running to school, though a new line is under construction.
You can buy almost everything you need for living here unless you wear very large clothes sizes or require specific medications. If you want to live and play like a westerner it will cost almost as much as in the West. However, if you live more modestly, you will be able to travel and probably still save more money than you would back home.
Learning some basic Mandarin while you are here is highly recommended. For such a modern city, relatively little English is spoken in Shenzhen except for the “ex-pat” neighborhoods. The names of streets and metro stations are written in both English and Chinese throughout the city.
Teacher Case Study
After graduating from university I taught in Spain and the U.S.A for several years before coming to China. I worked at Dipont centers in Xi’an and Chengdu before finally settling in Shenzhen.
Given the extreme difficulty of students adapting to an English-only curriculum that they will also face abroad, I continually strive to make my class adhere to the standards of international further education expectations.
The center is located about 20 minutes from downtown and a school van is provided for teachers who wish to live there. Shenzhen is a clean and modern city close to Hong Kong; furthermore, the hard work and dedication of the students at SFLS make teaching here a true pleasure.
Shenzhen has most western amenities; one is never far away from a shopping mall, foreign restaurant, cinema or subway stop. Locals are very friendly and always happy to lend a helping hand. Having studied Chinese for many years I find Shenzhen to be an ideal place as the migration from many provinces makes standard mandarin the lingua franca.
Student Case Study
Sophie, Class of 2015
I joined the AP center at the start of my junior year, and I would like to say that being part of the AP family is one of the most intelligent choices I made that year. We have together struggled with AP physics lab reports and crammed for AP calculus exams, but we also have fun Halloween parties and fascinating Christmas talent shows which let us know each other better. In all, my life in the AP center is hectic but memorable.
Through studying in this program I gradually developed my teamwork skills since we often have to work in small groups on projects. Also I have gotten accustomed to the western style teaching in the AP center which will help me with my college studies in the US.
A really challenging task that everyone in the AP center must manage is to balance the time for SAT, TOEFL and AP courses. Sometimes I need to work on AP courses and SAT at the same time which really makes me scurry, but then I make a timetable and a to-do list to allocate my time for different tasks.
I imagine the college I will attend to be colorful, with diverse outdoor activities as well as various interesting courses. Therefore I’m searching for universities that grant me great freedom in choosing my classes. I’m focusing on schools on either the east or west coast of the US that have strong math and business programs.