About the Host School
Tianjin Foreign Language School, Affiliated to Tianjin Foreign Studies University (TFLS), is a key school directly under Tianjin Municipality and a model school with the National Association of Foreign Language Education of China. The school was established in 1964 and currently has over 2600 students and 230 faculty members. TFLS covers an area of around 80 acres and the built area is about 50,000 square meters, being located about 30 mins from the CBD and a 10 minute taxi ride from an expat area of bars and restaurants. The campus is well sourced with IWBs in the classrooms and is rated one of the top schools in China. It’s fully equipped with science and computer labs, dining halls for teachers and students, sports facilities, multiple auditoriums, gardens and a library.
About the AP Centre
The Dipont AP Centre in Tianjin opened in 2012. The good working relationship with the host school has been very conducive to achieving the Center's goals and the facilities are excellent. Every effort has been made to make the classrooms modern and comfortable.
Students take part in a number of extracurricular activities that are offered at the center as well as activities offered by the host school. A few activities include: The International Award, Model United Nations, Harvard Debate, Photography Club, Robotics Club and Drama Club. We’ve added a small English library/reading room and an activities room where students can practice with band instruments etc. Our students are concentrating on the TOEFL, SAT, and AP exams. Counseling and instruction is delivered by expatriate teachers focused solely on providing the best possible opportunity for acceptance and success in a Western university.
Tianjin is a modern and swiftly growing city just 100 Km from Beijing (that’s just 30 minutes away on one of the very pleasant and punctual bullet-trains) - although there are plenty of things to do within Tianjin's diverse metropolis of 12 million people. Restaurants, shopping, parks and the rest of the typical pastimes you would expect to find in 21st century China are plentiful, along with a unique architecture and history that was courtesy of the various settlers that made their mark on Tianjin around the turn of the 20th century.
Warm in the summer, beautiful in the spring and fall, and as cold as you would expect in the winter, Tianjin is dry for most of the year (the exception of the rainy season of July and August). You can expect both sandstorms and snowstorms during a calendar year.
Getting around the city is easy and cheap thanks to a combination of taxis, buses, subways and bike lanes. And traffic is actually manageable!
Teachers live off-campus in apartments of their choosing. Housing is comfortable, modern and inexpensive. No teacher currently has more than a 20 minute commute.
All in all, it’s a great place to live. Close enough to Beijing if you crave the crowds, but far enough away to slow down a bit and enjoy the rich cultural experience available in China.
Teacher Case Study
Dr. Wayne D. Riley
I entered college as a mathematic s major and then in my second year I switched to chemistry while continuing a minor in math. It was a newly developed interest in nutrition that led me to chemistry. I obtained a master’s degree in chemistry and I was fortunate to work with Exxon Chemicals, followed by jobs with the Dutch-Akzo-Nobel and then the German-Degussa Chemicals. During this time, I traveled as a technical chemist and was able to see plastic manufacturing plants in many different countries. I really like the technical aspect of the job, but I was always just playing a supporting role, thus I returned to the academic world and finished my doctorate in chemistry so I could play a leading role in something I cared deeply about.
Here in the AP program in Tianjin we are constantly finding many ways to make improvements for our students to increase the depth of the learning experience. I really feel that the Chinese students are underestimated; some in the west see them just as robots inputting code or facts into their brains, but this is far from the truth. I really believe our students are at the center of a changing China and I love being a part of it! They are experiencing three years of American style classes here with us, while going abroad for summer programs in the USA. They are being given so much sensory input that I am amazed that they just don’t crash, but as the old Energizer bunny commercial used to say…’They keep going, and going, and going…’. In many ways they are a ‘tabula rasa’, and give us a lot to work with because they are so curious and brilliant. The real struggle is in getting them to play my favorite sport of ultimate Frisbee or participate with the few other students in forming a great big band to rock out!
I have had five years teaching in China and I see myself staying for many more years. I had four years in Beijing and now starting my second year in Tianjin. I am really not a city guy, but do love the history between Beijing and Tianjin. Both cities are ultra modern and in many ways I feel at home as in a USA city. The weather is very acceptable, very little rain (great for biking), and I can get around pretty easily using my IPhone and Ipad. I really haven’t picked up a significant part of the language, and I find it very frustrating, but I will soon be married to a wonderful Chinese lady from Xi’an and I am sure that I will be learning more in a very short amount of time. She has a daughter going into the eighth grade, and my China experience keeps getting better each day!
I love to play golf and ride my bicycle and you can often find me sharing my other passion, music, with my students. I have several different instruments I keep in my room in case anyone wants to learn, and I have many take me up on that offer. At this moment, I have students practicing for performances and many are learning the ukulele, guitar, and keyboard and a few songs from a Malaysian singer, Zee Avi. I love how teaching extends into every part of our lives and teachers can always make learning really fun and interesting.
Student Case Study
I have to say my study experience is great! I have experienced a lot, and I feel I’ve grown up. We can learn about different foreign cultures in classes, but also experience the real culture in person. We spend foreign holidays with our teachers. We contribute to some charity organizations. We build our own study system through our teachers’ help, for instance. All these things can tell you how amazing the experience is.
I feel I've made great progress! My oral language is good. I did a great job in my pronunciation and fluency. But through taking AP courses I know how to organize my speech, and improve my comprehensibility, and these two things also can show in my writing.
Talking about writing, my vocabulary is a big deal to me. I must have lots of vocabulary, because improving our phraseology is the most important factor in the perfect essay. Our teacher lets us read a lot of novels, and gives us many reading assignments, and I learn plenty of words through these. My listening skills have also improved.
In terms of challenges - there are many reading assignments that the teachers give us and there are so many new words.
My plan is very detailed. In this year’s summer vacation, I will take a TOEFL exam. In the second school year, I will take SAT and then take an AP exam. I'm looking to take four exam courses. The last year, if I can, I want to do the Early Application, but I must be a very, very excellent student to do this. And I will take my new AP courses, like Psychology and Statistics.
As for my extra activities, this winter vacation I went to a MUN Conference. I was a journalist for The Times, one newspaper office of the Main Press Center, I enjoyed it and I received a prize. So I think, in the next vacations, I will go to more MUN Conferences, and also I will take part in other activities, like debate, BSE for sure.