Chinese Language Blog

Thank you! Please check your inbox for your confirmation email.
You must click the link in the email to verify your request.

Going Back to School in China Posted by on Aug 21, 2019 in Culture, Vocabulary

Summer holiday is almost finished! (暑假快要结束了- shǔ jià kuài yào jié shù le). Can you believe it? I know I can’t. It seems like just yesterday I was writing my post on talking about summer in Chinese with vocabulary words like water park (水上乐园 – shuǐ shàng lè yuán) and beach (海滩 – hǎi tān). Time flies, because next week students will bust out their track suits, red scarves, and “Safety” (安全 – Ān quán) hats. That’s right, it’s time to talk about going back to school (开课 – kāi kè) in China!

Chinese School Vocabulary

In the classroom teaching at a Chinese kindergarten!

First up, let’s learn some useful Chinese school vocabulary. I went ahead and made a nice little table that you can just copy and paste to study:

学校
幼儿园
小学
中学
高中学
大学
学生
老师
指导员
校长

教室
学习

图书馆
书桌
黑板
笔记本
教科书
文件夹
日记
字典

铅笔

橡皮擦
胶水

订书机
背包
计算机
剪刀
作业
考试

xué xiào
yòu’ér yuán
xiǎo xué
zhōng xué
gāo zhōng xué
dà xué
xué shēng
lǎo shī
zhǐ dǎo yuán
xiào zhǎng

jiào shì
xué xí
jiào
tú shū guǎn
shū zhuō
hēi bǎn
bǐ jì běn
jiào kē shū
wén jiàn jiā
rì jì
zì diǎn

qiān bǐ
zhǐ
xiàng pí cā
jiāo shuǐ
chǐ
dìng shū jī
bèi bāo
jì suàn jī
jiǎn dāo
zuò yè
kǎo shì
school
kindergarten
primary school
middle school
high school
university
student
teacher
guidance counselor
principal
class
classroom
study
teach
library
desk
blackboard
notebook
textbook
binder
diary/organizer
dictionary
pen
pencil
paper
eraser
glue
ruler
stapler
backpack
calculator
scissors
homework
test/exam

If you’re a very diligent pupil, you’ll go ahead and make some flashcards (卡片 – kǎ piàn) with those vocabulary words! Speaking of vocabulary, make sure you sign up for our Mandarin word of the day so you can learn something new every day of the week.

The School Year in China

In China, the school year generally goes from the beginning of September (九月 – jiǔ yuè) until the end of June (六月 – liù yuè). Students attend school five days a week, usually starting at 7:30-8 and finishing around 3. In some areas, students don’t finish the school day until 5 PM. Those schools typically have a long 2-2.5 hour lunch break, allowing students to enjoy an afternoon nap (午睡 – wǔ shuì).

Back to school!

Schools will take a long winter holiday (around one month) to coincide with the Spring Festival (春节 – chūn jié). Other major holidays during the school year include:

  • Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 – zhōng qiū jié)
  • National Day (国庆节 – guó qìng jié)
  • Tomb Sweeping Festival (清明节 – qīng míng jié)
  • May Day/Labor Day (劳动节 – láo dòng jié)
  • Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 – duān wǔ jié)

Most of those holidays are just a long weekend, but National Day is called a “Golden Week” (黄金周 – huáng jīn zhōu). Most students have the entire first week of October off for this holiday, and families all over the country set out to travel. It can be a pretty chaotic time, so many just choose to stay home and relax. After all, there’s still lots of homework to be done!

For high school students in China, the most important part of their entire academic life is the intense gao kao (高考 – gāo kǎo) exam. It’s a grueling exam, lasting for a few days at nine hours a day. To make matters worse, it’s also extremely vital for them to succeed. You see, competition is fierce for the limited spots in Chinese universities.

If you’re interested in learning more about the gao kao exam, be sure to check out Ayana’s excellent and informative post from a few months ago.

School Subjects in China

So what are kids learning with all those days spent in school? Here’s a list of school subjects in Chinese for you to study:

数学
地理学
政治学
历史
艺术
体育
音乐
语言
汉语
英语
科学
计算机科学
生物学
化学
物理学
经济学
社会研究
健康
心理学

shù xué
dì lǐ xué
zhèng zhì xué
lì shǐ
yì shù
tǐ yù
yīn yuè
yǔ yán
hàn yǔ
yīng yǔ
kē xué
jì suàn jī kē xué
shēng wù xué
huà xué
wù lǐ xué
jīng jì xué
shè huì yán jiū
jiàn kāng
xīn lǐ xué
Mathematics
Geography
Political Science
History
Art
Physical Education
Music
Languages
Chinese
English
Science
Computer Science
Biology
Chemistry
Physics
Economics
Social Studies
Health
Psychology

I’m curious to hear your answer to this question in Chinese:

你最喜欢什么课? 为什么?
nǐ zuì xǐ huān shén me kè? wèi shén me?
What class is your favorite? Why?

My old classroom I taught from in Beijing!

Extracurricular Activities

I for one am excited that it’s time for students to go back to school in China. Since I teach English online these days, I actually work more in the summer. It’s nice being able to save some extra money, but I’m looking forward to having my evenings back when my students are back in school!

Students in China are involved in several extracurricular activities, in fact. When I ask my students what they did that day, their answers typically include a variety of other classes – basketball (篮球 – lán qiú), piano (钢琴 – gāng qín), calligraphy (书法 – shū fǎ), swimming (游泳 – yóu yǒng), and more on top of online English lessons. These kids work really hard! It doesn’t seem like they have much of a summer “vacation” at all, really…

I’ll leave you with a great Chinglish idiom about studying hard to motivate you:

好好学习天天向上
hǎo hào xué xí tiān tiān xiàng shàng
Good good study, day day up!

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

Tags: , , , , ,
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


Leave a comment: