Teaching Chinese Through Cultural Activities: Chinese Lantern Festival
    Date of publication :2/28/2019 7:26:00 PM


During 15 days of Chinese Spring Festival, I prepared  three-weeks' culture-related activities and courses for my pilot class. During the first activity, 29 students learnt a fun rhyming song about how Chinese kids celebrate Spring Festival day by day. By singing, they learn how to speak numbers, food names, fun activities in Chinese.  To end this theme-based Chinese learning, this week's course is about celebrating Lantern Festival by singing a new nursery rhymes and making chinese lantern.


Chinese course started from why it is called Lantern Festival, why it is on the 15th day of the Spring Festival and what we do for celebration. I used audio-video Chinese contents to present details of this tradition. Of course, what interested my students most is Chinese food for this moment: Yuanxiao (tangyuan). Many students asked me where they can taste the food Yuanxiao and how to make it. With more and more knowledge about Chinese culture, students are increasingly curious about trying more things related to China, as well as using expressions in Chinese. 

Develop interests is the best way of empowering students to learn.

Lantern festival without our own hand-made lanterns, especial with love, is not a fun festival! Haha, I prepared the model of "Chinese character lantern"! Basically, it uses the Chinese character "Spring" 春 that we learnt in the first cultural activity as the shape of a lantern, and uses origami folding techniques and paper cutting to create a 3D lantern of Chinese  character "Spring" . It is simple but an effective method of memorizing the form of Chinese character. Each lantern has four sides with the form of character 春。 I deliberately asked students use white paper instead of red one to make this traditionally red lantern. After completing the paper folding and cutting steps, I asked students to color the four sides of the lantern. It means they were going to practice the writing of the word "Spring" four times while coloring. The method of coloring/writing Chinese characters is inspired by the hihilulu downloadable Chinese character coloring card. Besides engaging learner in writing,  the coloring card actually could stimulate young learners' artistic creativity. 

My Playlist on Youtube for teaching students pronounce the vacabularies

In addition to cultural activity,  another focus of this week was to review the last three courses about "greeting" in Chinese. We started from the pronouns 'you' 你, 'I'我,'he' 他, 'she'她, 'we'我们, 'you'你们, 'they'他们, 'they'她们, then practiced pronunciation and writing. I used the 'what is your name' sentence as pattern to do a Q&A game. With this excercise, students used their Chinese name, words and expression, and contents in video to converse and make short stories.  After Q&A game, I replayed the two thematic songs taught during these three weeks  and led  them sing and play group games again.  Students amused themselves with singing tones. The effect is obvious and positive. I'm surprised that even the students who missed one course also caught up after this series of exercises.

In the past three weeks, students enjoyed a good Chinese New Year through thematic activities and courses supported by New Year's songs,  animations about the Spring Festival, downloadable working sheets on hihilulu web and interactice games on hihilulu learn chinese App. After a lively Spring Festival, they also master the first theme. For students and me, it is a very good start of 2019!

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