Weekly Reflection – new traditions

Chinese New Year lanterns
Lanterns in school canteen – photo by author

One of the joys of working in an international school is that you get to celebrate occasions that aren’t as widely celebrated in your home country.

Lunar new year – otherwise known as Chinese New Year – is becoming a larger celebration every year in New Zealand due to an increase in immigration from Asia in the last two decades.

However the occasion is not widely marked in schools in New Zealand if there is a small Chinese community. The timing of the festival is either in the middle of the school holidays or just as school year is starting which also makes things more difficult.

As you can see from this post on my class blog Chinese New Year is a huge occasion at my school. Many of the kids were dressed up in traditional costumes and performed in mandarin. I spent most of the day thinking how lucky my learners are to experience this aspect of life in Asia and learning a different language.

I couldn’t help but wonder if New Zealand learners are short-changed in this aspect of their learning. Speaking the global lingua franca enables english native speakers to get by in the world. Moreover  geographical distance makes chances for authentic opportunities to use and language except Te Reo Maori expensive.

In this context language learning often gets pushed into the too hard basket or once a week if we have time.  Having dedicated and creative teachers of mandarin on staff helps immeasurably as does opportunities to practice outside of the classroom.

Part of the job description  is that you routinely end up doing something well outside of your comfort zone. In this case I ended performing a Chinese dance with the rest of the teachers. Graceful is definitely not an adjective I would use to describe myself.

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