Differences Between Chinese And American Students

If you’re hosting a Chinese student in your home, I’m sure you’ve noticed some pretty significant differences between your own children and your Chinese child. Not only does your host student come from a different culture, but they also have been raised and nurtured by a different set of parents up until the time they came to live in your home.

Typical Characteristics of a Chinese Student

While these are generalizations, our team at Premier Education would like to highlight some differences between Chinese and American students.

  1. Independence – Most students who are now living with you have been traveling alone around their massive cities in China for quite some time. They are familiar with public transportation, and they navigate it alone in China. While you might be nervous about the idea of your teenage daughter taking an Uber, their parents are very comfortable to let them loose. The perception of public safety in China vs. in America is drastically different.

When students come to your home, they quickly find out that they can’t go anywhere without you driving them. This can be very frustrating for them and can be viewed as you not trusting them. Spend time to explain the safety concerns you have. Teach them to communicate with you in a timely manner when they are out and about; this can save you a lot of headache and worries.

2. Study Habits – Chinese students do an average of three hours of homework per day. You can read more about their studies here. Their study tends to be repetitive and under close monitoring by their teachers and parents.

However, the long hours of study don’t automatically translate to the passion for learning. Don’t be surprised if your student spends too much time playing video games or watching Chinese TV shows or anime videos when they are supposed to work on their homework. Most of them have to relearn the concept that study is their own responsibility and they should do it without parents pushing them.

3. Relationship Development Is Not a Priority – This characteristic is primarily due to the amount of homework and studies the students are required to do. In addition, parents in China do not place relationship development as a high priority, but rather assume their relationship with their children will be alright as long as they get them a good education. The “One-Child” policy, now abandoned, resulted in teenagers who are quite entitled and don’t know how to cope with relationship conflicts in a family.

Understanding this can be very helpful when you see your student not used to hugging, or they don’t openly express their feelings with you. The simple answer to this is they haven’t been taught to do so. Let them know that your home is safe for them to speak up, to make mistakes, and work out issues in a loving and forgiving way.

4. Personal Responsibility – Students in China are given very little responsibility in their home. The designation of chores and duties within their homes are minimal. Parents in China try to foster an environment that allows their child optimal time to study. Parents, grandparents or even maids typically complete chores and other responsibilities in the home.

This is probably something you can help with tremendously. To give your student some chores to do, it will teach them a great deal. Not only will they learn how to do it and, but they will also be held accountable for doing it on a daily or weekly basis. This instruction is a great way to guide them toward personal responsibility and unselfish contribution to the success of the home, not just them individually.

5. Concept of personal space – Families in China don’t own a “home” like ours in America. Most of them bought or rent two or three bedrooms in a high-rise building in a huge community with thousands of residents. Students are often the only child in their families. Personal space can be a confusing concept to them because they don’t have that in China. They can use whatever is available in their home and walk into their parents’ bedroom without permission.

If personal space and privacy are important to your family, you can explain the rules to them clearly and show them what they can and can’t use or access. But don’t be surprised if sometimes they forget to follow the rules. It takes time to develop a new habit.

As you read these characteristics, are you finding some of them familiar to your experience with your host student? Understanding where your student is coming from can help as you “parent” your host student. Understanding can also help clear up misunderstandings that you may encounter.

Have you taken the time to ask your student some of the things they notice that are different about them and American students? If so, help them understand that “different is not wrong; it’s just different.”

Ultimately, your host student is living in your home and needs to follow your family rules, guidelines and responsibilities. By knowing these cultural differences, it might help you understand if your student is confused about or pushes back a bit about why you do the things you do.

Thank you host families for the way you love, nurture and embrace your Chinese student living in your home.