I used to teach all 6th, 7th and 8th beginning level Mandarin, but now I teach 6th grade, and have been rotating between 7th and 8th grade. In 6th grade, students all start from zero and need to stick with the langauge until they graduate in 8th grade. By the end of 8th grade, we take them on a trip to either Taiwan or China. I teach in an IB MYP school, and we do not follow any specific textbooks. We have set units for each year for all languages (Mandarin, French, Spanish and German) need to align and follow the same units, duration, and final assessments goals. It's hard to find materials to follow with such a specific alignment, so I end up creating my own materials most of the time. Here are some projects or fun activities I do with my students at the beginners level. See further below for advanced level projects.

Who am I

This project takes place around the time my 6th graders finishes their first unit, which is about 5 to 6 weeks in. Students are given a paper and prompted to use drawings and words they have learned to show who they are. At this time, they have learned how to say names, nationality, age, and where they are born.

How Food Represents Me

This is my unit 4 in 6th grade, so it would be the second semester of the students' learning. With the food collage project, students are ask to reflect what kinds of food they eat everyday, and how it might represent their family or culture. The have a picture of themselves in the middle, surrounded by the food they eat.  I got the idea from a photography book I purchased on children's diet around the world. We showed some examples first before the students start working on their own project.

Draw Your City

This is the last unit in 6th grade for me. This unit I cover a lot of information and new vocabulary, so students can be a little overwhelmed. One part of the unit is for student to be able to tell and give directions. They draw a map of a city, and label them with characters only. I give them instructions of what locations they must to include in the city (Your house, a friend's house. You can't live without a grocery store or a school in the city...etc.), and the total amount of locations or objects (cars, tree, traffic lights...) they have to include.

My Animal Creation

This project is normally given either at the end of the first year (6th grade) or in the beginning of the second year (7th grade). We spend a little time on teaching animals, how to decribe them, where they live, and whether they can fly, run or swim. This is a fun project for them to use what they've learned in the language and be creative. Students have to make a new animal by combining two or more animals together and describe their features.

Clothing Design

In 7th grade, we have a clothing unit that focuses on how to go to a store to buy and bargain. In this unit, we also look at different clothing trends, and culture clothing differences. We look at different styles and students identify their personal likes and dislikes for certain styles and colors in clothing. In the end, student design their own clothing after reflecting on themselves. Looking at the final product, I can see that while the designs look great, most students' sentences were still too simple, so next time, I would require more detailed descriptions that we had learned in class, such as crop, wide or narrow styled, what kind of patterns....etc.

Phoebe Chinese New Year project.mp4

Chinese Festivals story retelling

We have a Chinese festivals unit in 7th grade, and we introduce the 4 main festivals: Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and the Moon Festival. After the teachings, student make a one minute animation video on Canva to retell what they have learned about the festival. It can be facts about the festival or in a story format.

Josie Chinese New Year project.mp4

Example 2 

Chinese Festival Story Retelling

Picture Book Project

At the end of 7th grade, we have a story unit. They were told so many comprehensible stories this year, now it is their turn to write a story. They need to choose a topic from all the units taught this year, so they could write about Buying Clothes, Chinese Festivals, Getting sick, Go to the doctors, Life in School. Each student gets a set amount of pages, but can split the writing into the pages however they want.


Besides beginning level language classes, I also teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade advanced level classes. These are students who have gone through a Chinese immersion program since kindergarten, so our advanced classes are taught in Chinese only as well. At this level, we have a lot more books to read, essays to write, harder assessments that needs to scaffold, class presentations and deeper level discussions. Like the beginning language sections, all language classes in our school are on one curriculum, and needs to align.

City Poster

This is a City Unit at the immersion level. We focus on students find the characteristics of a city. We first look at a city passage that includes location, population, description and some history of the city. Students are put in groups and they will decide on a city they want to focus on and will first write a paragraph similar to the example. Students will them do research on what important sites or things that are in this city, and write a short description on each on them. They will also need to draw the shape of the city and place everything accordingly. The project is to support their rap project at the end of the unit. When I first started the rap projected, all students wrote about the rainy whether, so I started this project for students to scaffold for the rap project. After two years of writing about Portland, I let the students expand to any city in the world.


Student Rap Project

I started the rap project years ago when I was thinking ideas for the city unit. I came across a rap song that was talking about Keelung and Tainan, and thought it was a cool idea for them to write one too. Since I have a little music recording background, I was able to record it nicely for them. With the City map project, the students' rap has become much better. We talk about what rap is, and how to write a rap. We practiced altogether first before they had to write their own. They also made music videos to accompany the audio recording, but I am just sharing the audio version. It is a time consuming project, but it has always been exciting to see students that sometimes struggle thrive is a creative setting.


Dubbing Activity

Once in a while, I like to do something fun and different, but allows students to use their new language in a stress free and creative way. I like dubbing activities, and most students enjoy it too. Remember to pick a fun clip for them. I have done dubbing activities in both my advanced classes and beginning classes. We use wevideo in our school. This clip is from my advanced class.

Graduation Song 

Final Graduation Song 20200612.mp4

Graduation Song

This was the year covid hit. We were all online, international trip has been canceled, and even graduation was online. Since I participated in some graduation song projects when I was a student, I thought it would be a cool idea for students to make one, too. I picked out the song (by Jay Chou), and had students write new lyrics themselves. (They all wrote their own, and the chorus was written by the advanced class) I included both my beginning and advanced 8th grade class in the video. That year, they played the song at the end of our online graduation celebration.