Chinatown Trip Tests Students' Mandarin Skills

Students in Yutong Chen's 8th grade Mandarin class put their language skills to the test during a field trip to Manhattan’s Chinatown. While there, Calhouners were tasked with interacting with native Mandarin speakers. Most of the students will be traveling to China this summer, and Yutong used the day trip as an opportunity to introduce the class to various aspects of the culture.“The goal was to give students the chance to apply their language knowledge and ability, and gain a first-hand experience with and a better appreciation of Chinese culture,” says Yutong.

Eighth graders agree that their experience exploring Chinatown paid off. While the task of striking up conversations was intimidating, it gave students more confidence in their Mandarin. As Brooks N. reflects, "At first I was nervous, but once I started talking I felt comfortable and knew what to say. People were definitely surprised that I spoke Mandarin." Jackson S. agrees, saying, “It’s just a matter of saying hello, and the people seemed impressed with how I spoke!” Both students will be attending the trip this summer and feel that their trip to Chinatown prepared them well. “It’s going to be an amazing experience,” says Brooks, “and I think this field trip was a good starting point because we had the chance to have conversations with people and practice with them.”

Continue reading for a full recap of their eventful day. 

Students gather in Columbus Park in Chinatown

Students began their trip in Columbus Park where they chatted with locals and watched games of Xiangqi (Chinese chess).

Student points out Chinese characters on the base of a statue

Then, they searched for characters that they recognized on statues and signs around the neighborhood. 

Students practiced the art of tai chi.

Students practiced the art of tai chi.

Students enjoy dim sum at Jing Fong restaurant.

Next stop: dim sum at Jing Fong restaurant. Calhouners ordered in Mandarin before indulging in a variety of small dishes.

Students lit incense upon entering the Mahayana Buddhist Temple.

Students lit incense upon entering the Mahayana Buddhist Temple.

Students stopped for a picture in Mahayana Buddhist Temple

Once inside, the class posed for a picture. 

Students explore specialty groceries at Hong Kong Supermarket

Later, the class explored specialty grocery items at Hong Kong Supermarket and practiced making conversation with patrons.

Student starts a conversation in Mandarin with local man

After a full day in Chinatown, students returned to Columbus Park with renewed confidence in their conversational skills. 

For more on this trip, visit Calhoun in instagram and watch our story featured in our profile highlights.