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Chinese number 2.

The middle kingdom

Outcomes

Learn how to:

  • say where they are from
  • write the word for China in Chinese characters.

Activities – Where are you from?

Possible activities (adapt according to level of students)

Resources

Watch the video of New Zealand students saying where they are from. Students can try to guess which country they are from.

Video link 5 – Language practice: Countries

Introduce the sentence pattern “Wŏ shì Xīnxīlán rén” – “I am a New Zealander”. Students can practise saying the sentence to each other. (Substitute the English word for the country they are from if they are not from New Zealand.)

 

Students could practise a short dialogue, using the words they know.

 

Introduce the word for China – “middle kingdom”, discuss the meaning of the Chinese character for the word China. Students can practise writing the word China in Chinese characters.

Video link - Writing the word China

Watch the cultural footage relating to calligraphy with the class.

Video link – Cultural footage: Calligraphy

Writing Chinese characters

Unlike the English language, Chinese does not have a written alphabet. Instead, there is a system of characters which represent ideas and sounds. The system of Pinyin is the equivalent of our alphabet, but is only used to help with pronunciation.

Some characters reflect their meaning in a quite literal sense. For example, the word for “China” is “Zhōngguó”. The characters that represent this word illustrate how Chinese people viewed China as being at the centre of the world – literally a “middle kingdom”.

First character – Shows a piece of land (could represent whole world) and China is in the middle of the land – represented by a line through the centre.
Second character – The square is a piece of land; the centre represents a king 王, the small dash is the treasure or precious jewels; close the door at the bottom, you have a nation/a land with a ruler.

Sentence pattern

我是新西兰人。
Wŏ shì Xīnxīlán rén.
I am a New Zealander.

Did you know?

If you came from a place, you are a person of that place and in Chinese you just add the word “rén”, which means person, to the country name to say where someone is from. So, “Xīnxīlán rén” is “New Zealand person” or, as we would say in English, “New Zealander”.

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