About the Host School
Shenzhen Foreign Languages School is celebrating its 20th anniversary this winter. We currently have 2700 students.
SFLS is the elite academic school in Shenzhen and draws students from across the city. 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 are air conditioned and the school is kept clean and in good repair. Every year all of SFLS’s graduates are accepted in universities in China and abroad.
About the AP Centre
About the AP Centre
The center was established in March of 2010 and presently has 185 students. The 2010-11 school year was our first full year. There are7 teachers and a center principal who teaches half time. Teachers are American, Canadian and Bulgarian. There are 4 experienced Chinese college counselors.
The center teaches year 2 and 3 students; in other words, juniors and seniors. The AP classes taught are: Economics, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, Environmental Science and Chemistry. Academic English is also taught to all students. For the 2011-12 school year AP tests averaged 4.5. The center has a shared computer lab, a self-study room, a large classroom for each of the classes of students, and well equipped science labs that are shared with the main school. There are many after school clubs run by the main school. Also the center has clubs for newspaper, Toastmasters, and student council.
The biggest challenge is being a small part of a large Chinese high school. Adapting to the main school's policies, schedules and procedures require patience and flexibility. However, usually one's daily teaching isn't greatly affected. Moreover, the main school principal and center director are very supportive of the AP center.
The students are generally very polite and friendly and will work hard for a competent and motivating teacher. Their English ranges from adequate to excellent. All want to attend college abroad; almost all in the US. The greatest benefit is working with intelligent and motivated students. If you plan challenging and interesting lessons and show you care about their learning, they will work hard and be appreciative.
Shenzhen is one of China’s most modern, rich, clean and green cities; however, there are no important tourist sites. Many neighborhoods have pleasant parks for strolling. Air pollution is noticeable by US standards but good by Chinese overall standards. Many say Shenzhen has the best weather in China. The city is stretched out over many miles so there isn’t a single downtown. There are modern high quality shopping malls in the city along with a range of western restaurants. One can get to Hong Kong in less than three hours by public transportation.
The school will help you select an apartment when you arrive or you can do it on your own with a Chinese agent. 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 van to and from school. Or at least be sure there is a Shenzhen Foreign Languages School teacher bus stop very near. You can get a modest apartment on the housing allowance but look carefully and don’t be rushed into signing a contract.
Come with enough cash to carry you over until the end of September.You can buy most 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 modestly or at a regular Chinese level most of the time, you will be able to travel and still save more money than you likely would back home.
Teacher Case Study
Kurt Kahlenbeck, Centre Principal
I was a teacher and administer in the US for 10 years and East Asia for 19 years before joining Dipont. I’m starting my third year as center principal at the Shenzhen AP center. I teach 24 periods of year three English each week, supervise the AP teaching team and coordinate our activities with the main school by working with the CLO and Center Director. Center teachers average about 20 periods a week and class sizes range from 20 to 35 students.
The greatest benefit is teaching motivated and intelligent students. I and all the center teachers agree that we have never experienced more rewarding teaching. A second benefit for me is the professional pleasure of working with a team of skilled, cooperative and collegial teachers. Finally, working within a Chinese school gives all of us cultural insights one could not get while teaching in an international school.
Shenzhen is a rich and somewhat international city so one can build a lifestyle that suits their needs. Mine is a quiet one of school, going to the gym, reading, and weekend walks at several excellent parks in my neighborhood. The younger teachers also enjoy hiking in the surrounding hills, the city nightlife and some study Chinese. All of us take advantage of international and Chinese travel during the holidays and often make the two hour trip to Hong Kong. One can save a third of their salary while living a modest but comfortable life and still take exciting trips during our holidays.
Student Case Study
Sophie, Class of 2014, Shenzhen AP Centre
When did you start at the AP center and how would you describe your experience there?
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.
What are the benefits for you personally in studying in this program?
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.
What are/have been the challenges for you personally in studying in the program?
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.
What do you think your plans are for university/college?
I imagine my college 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.