Happy new year - a new year of possibilities, new students, and new goals! One of those goals as a TEFL teacher should be to inject some creativity into your lessons to foster an engaging learning environment. And because we are all about celebrating holidays in the classroom to teach values and build rapport, here’s a variety of activities adaptable to your student class and language level to celebrate Chinese New Year in your abroad or online classroom.
Red is an auspicious colour in Chinese culture, symbolic for good luck, happiness and fending off those evil spirits. Attend classes wearing your best red outfits and accessories. You could also use these red clothing items for a round of Eye Spy or discussion questions as warmers.
Decorate the Classroom
With a heap of crafting supplies, let your students unleash their creativity with Chinese New Year decorations, sprinkling them all over the classroom for festive feels.
Are you teaching online? While you have no control over your students’ learning spaces on the other side of the screen, you certainly have control over your background. Spruce it up with touches of hand-made or printable Chinese New Year decorations!
Lights, Camera, Action!
Role-playing in the TEFL classroom aids in students’ English communication and language skills, allowing them to collaborate with others, experiment with language and make sense of real-world scenarios. Chinese New Year offers students the perfect opportunity to dramatise
this special holiday’s history by putting on a play with English narration. Assign smaller groups different parts of the history to perform. In the physical classroom, encourage students to bring costumes from home or use crafting supplies. For some extra fun, film their performance with your cell phone camera, edit it on a free editing app, and at another lesson, have a class party where they watch their Chinese New Year movie.
Following the idea above, assign students to write stories with a Chinese New Year theme in any genre. Provide the class with construction paper and recyclable materials from which students can create puppets and put on a puppet show, verbally telling their written Chinese New Year stories. This activity can be adapted to the online classroom easily: Students can get creative with their toys as they put on their show. Use external rewards, such as a paper dragon, to congratulate them on their performances.
The Lantern Festival marks the conclusion to the Chinese New Year celebrations by releasing beautiful lanterns into the night sky, symbolising a new year’s wish. An ancient tradition still practised today is to write riddles or poetry on the lanterns. People gather to solve the riddles, and if solved correctly, the riddle can be pulled off and checked with the lantern owner who may reward the solver with a small prize. In the TEFL classroom, solve a few English riddles (which can range in difficulty according to the class age) together as a class, and then students can write their own. For some added fun, let the students design and construct their own paper lanterns and attach the riddles in preparation for the Lantern Festival.
Food, Glorious Food
A major part of Chinese New Year celebrations is, naturally, the food! Families gather for a traditional New Year’s Eve feast, where tremendous planning and effort goes into the meal. Some foods that may be on every household’s table include the aptly named spring rolls, noodles, dumplings, steamed fish or chicken, sticky rice and vegetable dishes.
In the TEFL classroom, invite students to share their families’ favourite recipes of foods to eat during the Spring Festival. Food is a commonality that transcends all ages, so there’ll be loads to discuss. If in the classroom abroad and your school allows, students can make invitations to exchange with each other for a special class New Year’s feast, and on another day each brings a Spring Festival food or treat to share. During the feast, students can discuss their hopes and dreams for the new year.
There is always a way to adapt your students’ special cultural holidays in the TEFL classroom! To join in the teaching fun, qualify as an online or abroad TEFL teacher by investing either of our internationally accredited online TEFL courses:
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