English Words To Teach Around The Chinese New Year

English Words To Teach Around The Chinese New Year

English Words To Teach Around The Chinese New Year

If you’re planning on teaching English in China, you probably know that the Chinese New Year is an important holiday celebrated all over the country. Unlike the western countries, the new year’s celebration in China involves family gatherings, a lot of food, and the streets turn into open-air markets selling street food and good luck charms.

This article compiles a list of important English words you can teach around the Chinese New Year to embrace the celebration season. Learning these words and phrases will help make your Chinese New Year celebrations fun, meaningful, and memorable with your students!

Here are 8 English words to teach during the Chinese new year:

1. Lantern

The Lantern Festival is an ancient tradition for the Chinese New Year, where lanterns are released into the sky, and people send their past selves up to get new selves in the New Year.

During the Lantern Festival, everybody goes outside and sets off lanterns with their family. Lanterns have become a symbol of national pride in China and decorate homes and public places. Teaching this word helps you acknowledge the history and modernity of China.

2. Fireworks and Firecrackers

Teaching the meaning of fireworks and firecrackers is a great way to embrace the Chinese new year when you teach in China. During Chinese New Year, the stroke of midnight is celebrated with fireworks and firecrackers to people safe from evil spirits.

People also dress up in pretty traditional clothes like yan wang, qipao. It is a countrywide tradition to set up firecrackers.

When the fireworks are set off, there is an aftermath cloud of thick smoke, loud noises, and shaking buildings. This is done out of joy and happiness to usher in the new year.

3. Dragon dance

The dragon dance is an essential English word to teach during the Chinese new year as it stands for power, wisdom, and wealth, which means good luck. Chinese dragons are a significant part of Chinese culture, and it would be best to remember to showcase your knowledge of Chinese culture when teaching in China.

The dance is performed seriously during the Chinese New year, and it is believed that the longer the dance lasts, the more luck comes in the community.

The dancers perform the dragon dance in different ways. Their attires are in different colours, and the different colours in these costumes have other meanings as well. For example:

  • A great harvest is symbolized by green
  • The colour yellow symbolizes respect for the empire
  • Gold or silver symbolize prosperity
  • The colour red is used to create excitement and usher in good fortune

The designers design the costumes with grass, bamboo, paper, and cloth materials. The area on the dragon body is woven round using very thin bamboo strips and covered with dragon scales acting like a decoration.

4. Zodiac

Based on the lunar calendar, the Chinese zodiac assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to every year in a twelve-year cycle. According to the Chinese Metaphysics Consultancy Services, there are 12 zodiac signs, and this is how they appear in order and their traits;

  • Rat – Quick-witted, resourceful, versatile, kind
  • Ox – Diligent, dependable, strong, determined
  • Tiger – Brave, confident, competitive
  • Rabbit – Quiet, elegant, kind, responsible
  • Dragon – Confident, intelligent, enthusiastic
  • Snake – Enigmatic, intelligent, wise
  • Horse – Animated, active, energetic
  • Goat – Calm, gentle, sympathetic
  • Monkey – Sharp, smart, curiosity
  • Rooster – Observant, hardworking, courageous
  • Dog – Lovely, honest, prudent
  • Pig – Compassionate, generous, diligent

In Chinese astrology, animal signs represent how others perceive you, like in the examples above. 2022 is the year of the tiger and is associated with the water tiger.

5. Red envelopes

Red on the envelope symbolizes energy, happiness, and good luck in Chinese cultures. Often, traditional red envelopes are decorated with beautiful Chinese calligraphy and symbols. The origin of the red envelope dates back to some of the oldest Chinese new year stories.

For example, when the legend could leave, it’s believed that a demon named Sui would reappear to scare the kids in their sleep. Once a child was handed coins to play with and stay awake, the kid wrapped the coins in red paper, back and forth, until he fell asleep. When Sui came, the coins shone a light and kept the kid safe.

It is believed that during the Chinese new year, the people who are handed a red envelope get the luck to have another peaceful year.

6. Chinese New Year Gala

Chinese New Year Gala, famously known as CCTV New Year’s Gala or ‘Chunwan’ in Chinese, is a live TV program broadcasted on CCTV to celebrate the turn of the Lunar New Year. Since its establishment in 1983, the program has gained popularity and its the most viewed program for entertainment in China. When teaching English in China, this would be a great word to teach your students about.

In 2018, the program had 700 million viewers. It is a must-do for most  Chinese families to watch the TV gala after their reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Families usually enjoy watching the arts and performances from the show.

7. Dumplings

Dumplings are a sign of family reunions, and this is because many families spend the new year together while making the dumplings before eating them at midnight. Furthermore, they are also a sign of prosperity as their shape matches ancient Chinese money.

8. Spring rolls

The eating of spring rolls during the new year symbolizes wealth and prosperity. Spring rolls are made from flour and water, filled with vegetables or meat, and then fried to give the spring roll its signature golden colour.


The Chinese New Year is fast approaching with fireworks, food, and many red envelopes! The holiday is generally centered around family – and if you’re living away from home, it’s an excellent opportunity to see loved ones who you haven’t seen for a while. As teachers enjoy their stay in China, they can use the list of English words to teach around the Chinese New Year to entertain their students and make the celebration season more fun.