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September 26, 2012

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Home » Metro » Education

Foreign students start prep school

FOREIGN students who find it difficult to learn Chinese can now first attend a government-backed preparatory school to help them overcome the language barrier before they begin studying at local universities.

The Shanghai Education Commission yesterday launched the Shanghai International Foundation College to help foreign students adjust to studying in Chinese.

The commission plans to make it mandatory for those who receive a Shanghai Government Foreign Student Scholarship to attend the prep school before going to local universities.

Previously, the Ministry of Education had ordered all national-level foreign students who received a scholarship to attend preparatory courses at one of seven locations around the country set up by the ministry.

The new prep school based at Shanghai Normal University is the first of its kind launched by the city government.

"The prep school will improve the education quality for foreign students," said Xue Mingyang, director of the Shanghai Education Commission. "It will help them finish their studies in China successfully."

The prep school provides one-year and two-year programs, which focus on Chinese language skills, including listening, reading and speaking, as well as Chinese history and culture classes.

It also includes some basic science and computer courses to help students from underprivileged areas keep up with their Chinese peers.

Some foreign students' home countries teach simpler computer skills or maths, compared with China, officials said.

The first group of 55 students, from 11 countries including Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, began a pilot program yesterday.

"I have studied Chinese for three years," said Maria Kuznetsova, a student from Russia. "But I can only speak a little."

She is happy for the chance to improve her language skills at no cost before attending Shanghai International Studies University majoring in international trade.

The first group of students have received scholarships issued by the city government and the program is completely free to them.

The one-year prep school scholarship is worth 60,000 yuan (US$9,509.6), which includes tuition and life expenses. Students can also pay to take the course in future.

About 47,000 overseas students study in Shanghai last year and the city aims to increase the number to about 70,000 by 2015.


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