Middle School Mandarin Classes Ring in Chinese New Year

Bags filled with snacks, red envelopes and chopsticks lined Tang Di’s middle school classroom as her Mandarin students joyfully counted down to the Chinese New Year celebration.

The seventh and eighth graders were learning about the Year of the Dragon during class on February 9.

“My goal is to teach not only the Chinese language, but the culture as well,” Di, whom the students respectfully address as Tang Lao Shi (Chinese for Teacher Tang), explained. "They are equally important.”

Seventh grader Avi Kinon is drawn to it all, especially Chinese food and art. “Learning about the Lunar New Year keeps this tradition alive,” she said. “Without education on these ancient customs, they could fade away like so many have before. It's also important because it teaches us about cultures that may not be our own.”

Students enjoyed Chinese cookies and crackers while watching a video about how families celebrate the Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival or pinyin, which officially began on February 10. It’s a festive time on the lunar calendar that marks the end of winter and the start of spring, and one of the most treasured holidays in Chinese culture. The dragon in Chinese astrology symbolizes luck, prosperity and success.

Di gave students prizes of Chinese fans, candy and rice cakes for answering riddles about New Year traditions. Students practiced their origami folding skills while making Chinese paper lanterns and butterflies. Dexterity and speed were needed to be successful during a fun competition: How many crackers can you pick up in 30 seconds using chopsticks?

Rio Imanishi ’28, who has been taking Mandarin for two years, looks forward to this day and learning about Chinese culture in general: “Tang Lao Shi makes the class fun because it’s more of an open-circle discussion when we learn our lessons.”

“They loved all the activities and they definitely learned material that is above and beyond the textbook,” Di said. 

As the eighth grade students looked ahead to their next unit on hobbies and the seventh graders prepared for upcoming lessons about Chinese cuisine, Di said, “The New Year celebration has been and remains an integral part of my curriculum.”

SHARE Article