Chinese New Year – young learner lesson


People around the world are preparing to welcome in the Year of the Goat on Thursday. We’ll be celebrating Chinese New Year in my YL classes this weekend by making paper lanterns. And thanks to the British Council Learn English Kids site, it’ll also be a chance to raise the children’s awareness of accent variation. The craft section of the website features a video of a Chinese boy explaining, step by step, how to make a paper lantern. Since most coursebooks still feature mostly native speaker accents, this video provides a useful opportunity to focus students on a potentially unfamiliar accent. It also serves as a springboard for discussion to encourage students to reflect on how they can respond to unfamiliar accents. So here’s what I’m planning to do with the video…

Chinese lanterns for sale in Chiang Mai, Thailand, ahead of Chinese New Year.

Chinese lanterns for sale in Chiang Mai, Thailand, ahead of Chinese New Year.

1) Show pictures related to Chinese New Year and elicit what students already know about it. Show them a completed lantern and explain that this is what we’re going to make.

2) In groups, students order screenshots of the video showing the process of making a lantern. Then they match sentences to the screenshots. Download the images and sentences here and cut up one set per group.

3) Students watch the video and check their answers.

4) Students complete a worksheet, matching verbs to screenshots. Download it here.

5) Practice making an imaginary lantern as a whole class, using actions and drilling each verb.

6) Hand out the paper, glue and scissors, and print out one set of instructions per group from the BC Learn English Kids website. Students make their lanterns.

7) Come together as a whole class and reflect on accent variation using the three questions on the worksheet from step 4. This is an opportunity to promote tolerance of variation and encourage students to take responsibility as a listener to ensure that communication does not break down.

The questions:

  •  Does Ryan sound the same as you when he speaks English?
  • Why don’t people all sound the same when they speak English?
  • If you don’t understand someone when they are speaking, what can you say?

8) Drill the chant, also on the worksheet, and parade around the room swinging the completed lanterns in time to the chant!

The chant (which I’ve recorded here):

China, India, France (x2) China, India. (x2) China, India, France

Do we speak the same way? Do we speak the same way?

No, of course we don’t! No of course we don’t! No, we speak our own way.

Thailand, Singapore, Spain (x2) Thailand, Singapore (x2) Thailand, Singapore, Spain

We all speak our own way (x2) We try to understand (x2) When you speak your own way.



2 thoughts on “Chinese New Year – young learner lesson

  1. Pingback: Chinese New Year - young learner lesson | Teach...

  2. Pingback: Chinese New Year - young learner lesson | FOTOT...

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