Going Back to School in China Posted by sasha 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
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:
gāo zhōng xué
zhǐ dǎo yuán
tú shū guǎn
bǐ jì běn
jiào kē shū
wén jiàn jiā
xiàng pí cā
dìng shū jī
jì suàn jī
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).
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:
dì lǐ xué
zhèng zhì xué
jì suàn jī kē xué
shēng wù xué
wù lǐ xué
jīng jì xué
shè huì yán jiū
xīn lǐ xué
I’m curious to hear your answer to this question in Chinese:
nǐ zuì xǐ huān shén me kè? wèi shén me?
What class is your favorite? Why?
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:
hǎo hào xué xí tiān tiān xiàng shàng
Good good study, day day up!
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