Saturday, December 04, 2010

Foreign Exchange Students

Last year I had a French foreign exchange student in Algebra 2. Periodically over the years I've had students escort a foreign student into class for a day, and yesterday an Argentinian student was such a guest (which was a real treat for my student whose mother is Argentinian).

Every foreign exchange student who's ever come into my class has always made the same comment: American students behave and pay attention much more than students "back home". This has always floored me, especially when it comes from students whose country's schools are said to be superior to those in the US (and especially to those in California). Yes, even the Germans have said this.

So I have to wonder: are the students at my school just especially well-behaved? (I do teach in an upscale neighborhood.) Are the teachers at my school just especially insistent on appropriate class behavior? Are we just getting foreign visitors from bad schools?

What other possibilities are there? I'm really curious about this topic.


High School Tchr said...

It must be your school.

It's been awhile since I've had foreign exchange students in my class because I now teach in what would probably be considered an economically disadvantaged inner city school. We don't get foreign exchange students here.

Anywhoo, my previous high school had foreign students on a regular basis, especially from Germany. They routinely stated the American kids did not take school seriously and did not care very much about what was happening in the world.

They always enjoyed visiting our school because it was like a big 'ol party all the time!

Ellen K said...

I've had foreign exchange student from many countries including Russia, Japan, Germany, France and Korea. For the most part, the students from Japan and Korea were the most diligent and the most attentive, but the least innovative. The Russian student was dismissive of all classes and barely passed her classes for lack of work. The two Germans I had-and I hope this is not common-were far more interested in partying and were rude to teachers and their peers to the point where one was removed from his host family not once, not twice, but three times because of his behavior. Of course, these kids are simply small slices of kids traveling away from families. I do remember my Japanese student fondly and we email back and forth. She's in design school in Tokyo and is ready to graduate. The Russian student was turned down for admission to an art school in Paris. The other students simply disappeared and left no contact.