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School creates free int'l program

By Lu Chen (Global Times)

11:01, October 18, 2012

A Shanghai high school has created an international program at no extra cost to students that offers them an opportunity to go to university in France after they graduate, local media reported Wednesday.

Shanghai Guangming High School in Huangpu district launched the program this school year in partnership with Ecole Supérieure d'Ingénieurs en Génie Electrique, a university in Ruen, France that specializes in engineering, according to a report in Youth Daily.

The program, which is offered within the public school system, doesn't cost students extra to enroll, unlike other international programs at local high schools, which cost 80,000 yuan ($12,790) on average each year, said Yang Weichang, head of the international exchange department at the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission.

Students enrolled in the program will have to pass a French language examination and take the national college entrance examination, better known as the gaokao, before they can apply to the university in Ruen.

The students will have to earn a gaokao score high enough to qualify for admission into a second-tier university in China in order to get into the French university, said Mu Xiaojiong, the principal at Shanghai Guangming High School.

The gaokao requirement also differentiates the program from other international placement programs, Yang said.

"It broadens the students' options," Yang told the Global Times. "It gives them an opportunity to pursue a higher education in France or attend a Chinese university."

The students will take French classes throughout their three years at the high school and will go on study abroad trips to France during their winter and summer vacations. "Students will be able to pick up more French during their trips to study abroad in France, where teachers will give them math and physics lessons," Mu told the Global Times.

The students will take French as their primary foreign language, unlike most students in the city, who study English as their first foreign language. Mu acknowledged that this will force students to shift their focus away from English to start learning a new language, which will be challenging.

He pointed out that they will not abandon their English studies. They are still required to take two English classes a week.

"I don't think it is ever a waste to learn a second foreign language besides English at a young age because language is the key to another culture and a way to acquire knowledge," a mother surnamed Ji with a 15-year-old student in Shanghai told the Global Times. "I am more than happy to encourage it if my child is willing."

The school plans to expand the program over the next three years to include 10 universities.

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