On a recent Sunday night, nine Principia Upper School students celebrated the Lunar New Year in a private karaoke room in New York City’s Chinatown district, belting out tunes in Mandarin Chinese.
The students of Chinese 3 and 4 classes traveled to New York for a whirlwind trip, immersing themselves in cultural activities, visiting museums, and, of course, breaking out their Chinese language skills.
“This helped my learning because I got the chance to see and hear how things are different from the textbook,” says junior Isaiah. “It also helped me to think of things to say on the spot and to form sentences without preparing them ahead of time.”
Along with language practice, students experienced Chinese culture. The packed five-day schedule included Chinese painting classes at an art school, a visit to a Chinese cultural exhibit and garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and making dumplings at a Chinese restaurant.
Principia’s curriculum-based trips set the tone for a new way of learning that is meant to produce engaged, expansive, future leaders. For Mandarin Chinese teacher Joy Chang, experiential language trips push students outside their comfort zone and inspire growth. It makes learning a language more “alive and vivid” for students. The best part of the recent trip, she says, was seeing students “strive for excellence—not because they want good grades but because they truly want to communicate with others and learn more.”
What a great way to ring in the Year of the Rabbit!