Travel, Teach, Live in China

How to Teach About Chinese Culture
By:Kaye Jones

The world's most populous country, China is home to 1.35 billion people (as of 2010). According to the BBC, China has a long and varied history and culture; it has provided the foundation for many for many elements of the modern world, including gunpowder and paper money. Using a series of fun activities will spark an interest in Chinese culture for any class, and, as Chinese culture encompasses so many areas, there is something to suit every interest.

Teach conversational Chinese. As language is an integral part of culture, learning a few basic Chinese phrases offers a great introduction to Chinese culture. Use this as an opportunity to teach students about the variation in linguistic dialects, such as Mandarin and Cantonese.

Teach about religion. Buddhism and Taoism, for example, are two of China's major religions and inform the way that many Chinese people live. Teach the key doctrines of these two religions and how these religions are observed. Let students compare Buddhism and Taoism to Christianity, the major religion of the U.S.

Cook a Chinese meal. According to David Grant of the Cal Poly Pomona, every meal in China must contain both Fan and Cai -- grain and vegetables and/or meat --- to ensure yin and yang. Let students have a go at cooking a Fan-Cai meal using traditional Chinese foods like rice, noodles and spring onions. Adult students may enjoy tasting Sake, a traditional Chinese rice wine. Use this as an opportunity to practice using chopsticks.

Celebrate Chinese New Year. Dedicate some class time to celebrating China's most popular festival, the New Year. Start by explaining that the Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese lunar calendar and can therefore be celebrated at any time between January 21 and February 18. Teach students how to say "Happy New Year" in Chinese. Younger children will enjoy making traditional lanterns and fortune cookies from felt. Teach students about the Chinese Zodiac and help them work out which animal they were born under (see Resources).

Teach about the Great Wall of China. Probably China's most iconic symbol, the Great Wall was constructed around 2,000 years ago and stretches for 5,500 miles. Log on to www.beijingguide.com for a photographs, maps and a virtual tour of the wall. Let students research the Great Wall's history, and include some facts on a homemade postcard, based on images of the Great Wall.


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