More and Younger International Students are Choosing to Study in Places like Canada

Huajun moved to Canada so that she could live with her children while they attend school here. Photo by Dian Sun.

In recent years, a number of Chinese parents have sent their children to study abroad, away from home. This is usually just for their high school years, but the ages of these students seem to be getting lower and lower.

The phenomenon of young students studying outside China has been going on for some time and is becoming more and more popular.

Yingxuan Q. is one such student. He came to Canada in the grade 7. He is in grade 9 at WCI. In order to cultivate his foreign language ability, exercise his independence and experience a different educational culture, Yingxuan’s parents chose to send him to Canada to study. He lives with a Chinese host family.

“When I first came to Canada,” he shared, “I was afraid to open my mouth because I didn’t speak English. I didn’t know anyone and I felt very lonely. Later, I studied in a language class. After mastering basic English expressions, I began to try to greet my classmates. They would invite me to participate in activities. We also set up study groups.”

Reflecting on his learning, Yingxuan said, “My experience is that, as a middle school student, when I go to a strange country alone, I need to actively communicate with classmates and respect local habits. Only by adapting to the new environment as soon as possible can we overcome loneliness.”

Tao Sun is the assistant vice president of New Oriental Education and Technology Group. He compared data from the report on Studying Abroad in China 2018 and the Report on Studying Abroad in China 2019, revealing some trends in China’s study abroad statistics.

The proportion of students studying abroad in primary and secondary schools rose from 25 percent in 2018 to 30 percent in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of people studying outside China with a bachelor’s degree or above reduced from 75 percent to 70 percent.

Shaowu Guo is a host family manager in Waterloo. Photo by Dian.

Some international students are choosing to apply for admission in grade 9, which has become a common time for admission to Canadian secondary schools. Others are much younger.

More and more Chinese families are experimenting with lower-grade applications, sending their children into the Canadian education system earlier to prepare them for high school and universities with higher rankings.

Huajun Ai is the mother of a grade 9 student at WCI who takes care of her children in Waterloo. She has been in Canada for three years: “Many parents in China now put their children in international classes and pay great attention to the development of oral English,” she said. 

When children are young, they can learn a new language more easily. To study abroad in an English environment helps in their language learning. According to Huajun, “It helps kids get used to the local environment and get ready for university early.”

There are many other Chinese parents like Huajun. In the view of these parents, the main purpose of studying abroad is to help their children to be “successful.” Another important reason is to give their children early international communication skills.

Ms. Guo was born in China. She received her education in China and Canada, and now she is a high school teacher and teaches media at WCI. She has a good understanding of the education system in both countries.

She said, “I think there are many benefits for a young person studying abroad, in general the benefits are greater than its disadvantages.” 

“First, you can gain experience in a new culture and new ideas and it is a “World Experience.” In your home country, it can be hard to gain that kind of insight and experience,” she explained. For Guo, one advantage of studying in a different country is the opportunity to meet different people.

She explained that “the education system is different [in Canada], and also the attitude and the mental approach of education are different. You will learn to be more open-minded while taking the courses rather than in the system of focusing and studying for tests most of the time.”

In Guo’s opinion, studying in North America can broaden career opportunities for students as well. “You can find a job almost everywhere in the world if you have a rich study abroad experience,” she said.

“I think the best part of studying abroad is that you have more choices once you have that kind of education experience: after you graduate you can choose to go back to your home country, or you can choose to live anywhere else in the world.”