Go to top American private schools as transfer students and stay with American families to experience an authentic American education — In this winter holiday, 6th to 10th graders at Kaiwen Academy (Haidian) participated in a different immersion program, getting a brand-new experience in 21 days.
The "immersion experience" enables our children to be immersed in the American educational environment, including regular attendance in American classes and participation in daily life, just like local students, which presents a preview of their future studying abroad.
In order for our children to be fully involved in the program without worries, Kaiwen Academy (Haidian) not only sent experienced lead teachers, but also found "shadow partners" their age to accompany them on the whole journey. All these "shadow partners" came from the host families. On the one hand, they can help our children in learning and daily living, and on the other hand, they are exemplary role models.
A photo of Kaiwen students and local students at Linden Hall Girls School
A photo of students at The Out of Door Academy
For this trip, Kaiwen Academy (Haidian) selected five top American private secondary schools, which not only have distinct academic advantages but also have a low ratio of international students. They are Christian Academy, one of the five "Global Education Model Schools" in the U.S. and a Blue Ribbon school accredited by the U.S. Department of Education; Park Tudor School, approved by the Independent School League; Linden Hall Girls School, the oldest girls school in the U.S.; Evangelical Christian School (ECS), a famous academic school in Tennessee; and The Out of Door Academy (ODA), rated as a School for Top 1% Honored Graduates. In June this year, Kaiwen Academy (Haidian) will also welcome a group of students from ECS and ODA.
First Taste: Fully Experiencing Interesting American Classes
"Interesting" is the first impression that most children have about American classes. After a short period of language adaptation, children's learning interest is quickly aroused by the new experience of the Optional Class system and Flipped Classroom model, teachers' personalized teaching styles, and fresh topics brought by new friends.
The U.S. Department of Education does not have uniform regulations for a national syllabus, and the individual states can make their own teaching plans. This leads to diversified teaching models in American primary and secondary schools, and personalized teaching is actively advocated.
Despite different teaching methods in each school, the schools are all committed to inspiring and training students' abilities in independent thinking and active learning through carefully selected subjects, with emphasis on how to increase students' interest and mobilize their enthusiasm for learning. Most of the students who have experienced the "immersion program", especially those in the lower grades, will quickly discover the fun of learning and exploration. Even children with language barriers can overcome the challenges with a positive attitude.
6th Grade Classes at Linden Hall Girls School
In American classes, students answer questions without raising their hands, and the teacher doesn't mind it unless they disturb the classroom order. Of course, the teacher has principles for this tolerance. If a student violates the classroom rules, e.g., talking loudly, the student will also be thrown out. In a drama class, the teacher dances around excitedly, just like a professional actor. We all stand on the stage, performing The Hunter Kills the Deer. We learn while acting, and we can memorize particularly profound words.
— Lucy, Grade 6
Teaching with Spaghetti in an American Class
I like American classes very much, and my mind can't help but follow the teacher. American teachers usually ask a specific student a question, so if you do not listen carefully, that's too bad. In class, the teachers give every student time to think and a chance to speak. They don't care whether your opinion is correct and they don't invalidate your opinion. What matters is whether you can think critically. Teachers often make a few small jokes in class, so the classroom atmosphere is very relaxed.
— Jennifer, Grade 6
Teachers here pay great attention to heuristic teaching. In an art extension class, for example, the teacher speaks very little and just presents a topic and provides some materials and tools. I once made a soccer ball with wire, tape and paper, and the teacher and classmates were all surprised at the speed and neatness of my handiwork. After class, I proudly gave it to my host family as a parting gift, and they also praised me.
— Alina, Grade 9
One of the American classes was really interesting. We designed and made a variety of stage props by ourselves. Everyone actively participated in the teamwork. I helped to paint a cabinet, and quickly got to know other students in the class.
— Susan, Grade 7
Immersed in Authentic American Classes: Not Easier than in Domestic Classes
Compared with students in lower grades, where classroom teaching is interest-oriented, senior students must pay more attention to differentiated learning of the curriculum. From mathematics, physics, and chemistry to humanistic disciplines and social sciences, although the disciplinary difficulty in conjunction with Kaiwen's curriculum is not highlighted, the scope of subject knowledge and the differences in thinking still let the students feel a certain pressure.
Through this program, many students changed their perception of American secondary schools. They realized that the American high school curriculum is not easier than the domestic curriculum, and that American teachers advocate autonomous learning more. American students' strong self-management ability also left a deep impression on us, presenting a preview for Kaiwen students' future studying broad.
American History Classes of Grade 10
Chorus Classes of Grade 10
The American classroom atmosphere is more active than I expected, and the learning atmosphere here is more motivated. The teaching content is not limited to the knowledge in textbooks, and the way of thinking is very different. Although our advantage in mathematics, physics, and chemistry is relatively obvious, we are used to translating the question into Chinese and then answering it with domestic ideas. Even if the answer is correct, the process is somewhat uncomfortable. With this experience, I really realized, as Kaiwen teachers said, that to adapt to Western learning methods, we must first change our way of thinking.
— Martin, Grade 10
Because of the differences in cultures and teaching systems, I chose four courses in the U.S. Compared with domestic courses, the American curriculum contains less, but is not easier. The teacher would give some assignments before class and tell us to read the given materials in advance. In the U.S., although school is over very early every day, many students have to participate in extracurricular classes after school. Actually, American students' schedules are the same as ours, and they also have a lot of homework to do every day.
— Tim, Grade 10
American students are much more diligent than I expected, and they have a strong sense of self-discipline. No matter how noisy the classroom is at break, it becomes quiet immediately after the class begins. Everyone listens attentively in class, and takes careful notes of key points. The classroom discipline is very good. When it comes to using mobile phones, American students all have a high degree of conscientiousness. You never see anyone using a mobile phone in the classroom, cafeteria, or other places. And you seldom see students holding their mobile phones all the time after class.
— Christy, Grade 10
Top Student Examples: Stimulating More than Motivation for Learning English
Through this "immersion program", children actually felt the unprecedented "360-degree language pressure", and saw the power of role models among American students, and thus have a more specific image about studying in the U.S. After returning home, they have not only changed their learning habits, but also have more self-awareness and clarity in their goals.
Student Communication in Recess
In English literature classes, there are some parts I can't understand, which makes me feel the learning obstacles brought about by language. Although the teacher is very patient and uses relatively simple words to explain, I really don't want the differentiated treatment, because I want to be like American classmates. This has really inspired my fighting spirit to learn English.
— Roger, Grade 8
When I was in the U.S., I frequently used an English dictionary app. I looked up more than 570 words in it. I probably will never forget those words.
I saw what a real American top student looks like from my "shadow partner". Although he is my age, he has already been taking 12th grade AP courses. Besides, he has won numerous awards in golf, and is good at almost everything like ice hockey, guitar, and violin. This gives me invisible pressure and a sense of urgency in learning.
— Martin, Grade 10
My "shadow partner" is a real top student. He never allows himself to make mistakes in the usual classroom tests, and he conscientiously goes back to his room to review lessons after dinner. After each class, I see him writing his review homework for the corresponding course. The next morning at school, you'll see a checkmark at the end of each item, showing each task completed. This made me feel humbled because I couldn't use time efficiently at first. Later, I gradually cultivated this habit, which has increased my learning efficiency and enriched my daily life.
— Olivia, Grade 9
The American school curriculum for the "immersion program" has made a deep impression on Kaiwen children. They also experienced wonderful events and activities in their spare time. For more information about the program, see the Our Immersion Program: Feeling a Cozy, Different Homestay
——To Be Continued