Fangxin Primary School - Xi'an, Shaanxi, China


Fangxin Primary School is located in the north-central part of Xi'an city, in the Weiyang district. Approximately 2,400 students attend the school. Addie taught 20 classes per week for grades 1-3 (ages 6-10), while Justin taught 20 classes per week for grades 4-6 (ages 10-12). There are approximately 60 students in each class. There is one main building with classrooms and teacher's offices and another building with the canteen, administration offices, extra-curricular activity rooms (art, music, sports), and science labs. A large track, turf fields, basketball courts, and ping-pong tables are located behind the school.

All the classrooms are equipped with chalkboards, smart boards, AC units, and fans. The school also provides a curriculum with a student book and an activity book for each class. While lesson plans are up to the teacher, the school provides teaching books with class suggestions and picture cards with unit vocabulary and Chinese-English translations.

The school canteen opens around 7 am. You can get a traditional Chinese breakfast for 1 yuan (less than 20 cents). Lunch is available for 3 yuan and alternates daily from rice to noodles with multiple side options like vegetables, Chinese bread, tofu, and different meat dishes. Dinner is also available for 1 yuan, so you can eat 3 square meals a day for around a dollar; not a bad deal!

The English department's office is located on the fifth floor of the main building. Every teacher is given a desk with a Windows computer. In addition to the foreign English teachers, there are, at present, six Chinese teachers in the English department. They are all very welcoming and are always willing to help out with questions about classes or daily life in China.


The teacher's apartment is located directly next to the school— it's only a three minute walk to the school gate. There are 33 floors in the apartment building and the foreign teacher's apartment is located on the 28th floor.

The apartment is a single bedroom furnished with a queen sized bed, sheets/blankets/pillows, bedside tables, and a large closet. There is a large living room with a sofa, a few chairs, several small tables. In the living room, there is a large TV that comes complete with popular English TV shows and movies. The kitchen is quite large for Chinese standards and comes with two gas stove burners, a microwave, a toaster oven, a sink, utensils, and plenty of cooking ware (pots, pans, etc). The bathroom is equipped with a Western toilet, a nice shower and sink, and plenty of storage. In addition, there is a small office with a desk and Windows computer, and a small laundry room with a washing machine and plenty of space to hang clothes to dry.

While many students live in this apartment building, most of them live on the lower floors. The 28th floor is quiet, for the most part, but sound travels up— you can hear car horns day and night.

Another plus is that the apartment is located within a few minutes walking distance to a massive supermarket/mall, two separate metro (subway stops), and some really great restaurants. Our building has the tendency to loose power, water, or gas on occasion, but you'll find that can be common in China. Over all, we've been very happy with our accommodations and our placement in the city.


The students at Fangxin Primary School are very enthusiastic, bright, and hard-working. Every day, Justin and Addie are greeted with many “hellos” and high-fives. Our students are always excited and happy to see us.

Because the students are between the ages of six and twelve, their English is very basic. For first graders, this is the first time they will be learning English, so they're working from a very low level. For this, it's important to keep classes simple, fun, and interesting. As long as you bring a high level of energy and enthusiasm to the classroom, the students will love you. Any chance to integrate games, songs, chants, or dances into a class will go over quite well. A Chinese teacher will also accompany you to every single class, so you have assistance with explaining directions, translating words and phrases, and helping with discipline.


Xi'an is a very large metropolitan city with a population of over nine million. There is always something to do and see if you just make the effort to find it. The City Wall is a fun time; rent a bike and pedal the 14 square kilometers while learning about the history of Xi'an. The Big Goose Pagoda has the largest water fountain in China and has it synchronized to traditional Chinese music; it is well worth a visit. The Terracotta Warriors are located about 40 minutes East of Xi'an, so you'll have to see that too.

Our favorite spot to hangout and get dinner is the Muslim Quarter, located in the south-central area inside the city wall. Amazing food, smells, and sights await you! Be sure to try a spicy lamb kebob, and don't miss out on the soup dumplings (our favorite). Lots of gifts and fun things can be purchased there and it's only 4 metro stops away from the apartment.

There are restaurants, museums, and bars galore to explore in Xi'an. Never miss an opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and the city. A great resource to use is an English printed magazine/website called Xianease (

While there are days when you just don't want to face your students, or the hustle and bustle of the city gets to you, working and teaching at Fangxin Primary School has been fantastic. Working and teaching in China is truly a rewarding experience if you are able to embrace the day-to-day struggles of being a stranger in a foreign land. Our FAO, Apple, has been more than helpful; she has actually become one of our closest friends. With the support of Apple and the Fangxin School administration, you will have no trouble finding your place here in Xi'an. Safe travels, and good luck!


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