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The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

A Cultural Immersion: Advice On Taking Chinese Class

David Shin
Picture of the Chinese Classroom (Room 122)

A Cultural Immersion: Advice on Taking Chinese Class

In the student-packed hallways filled with classrooms, teachers, and fellow students, we have many opportunities to learn about countless educational wonders. Entering Chinese class, students get the chance to learn about Chinese culture and language. Chinese is known to be a difficult language for English speakers to learn. According to the Foreign Service Institute, it is considered to be a Category IV language, which is the most challenging level. Despite its complexity, Chinese proves invaluable in the use of business due to its status as one of the most widely spoken languages globally. 


Mrs. Sung standing in room 122. (Sei)

Mrs. Sung is the one and only Chinese teacher at Tenafly High School. She has been teaching for well over 10 years and holds a passion for teaching Chinese to the next generation of students. “I think watching students achieve and grow is the most exciting thing,” Sung said. “They’re all very good students. I like teaching, and I enjoy it every day. Although sometimes I’m prepared, other days, teaching [can be] very hard. But I think the students responding and being ready to listen is what I enjoy the most.” Sung teaches all grades and all levels of Chinese students every year. She stands out as one of the most diligent educators at Tenafly High School. 

Here is some advice if you do decide to take Chinese:

1. Do your homework: This step might seem obvious, but just like any language, Chinese is no exception when it comes to learning it. Consistency in doing the homework helps you remember what you did in class that day and be prepared for the next lesson. One daily Chinese homework is called: 录音功课 (lù yīn gōng ké), or recording homework. For the week you are given a certain passage to read and required to send a voice recording to Mrs. Sung. On the last day of the week, you write down the passage in a notebook and turn it in. “Chinese characters are very hard to memorize,” Sung said. “I created 录音功课 13 years ago, and at first, my students found it hard to do. After two or three years, my students found it good to do. I think about it as a benefit for my students.” 

Another type of homework assignment is the character packet. Different character packets are given throughout the year to help students write out the new Chinese characters they learned for a particular lesson. They can be overwhelming at first, but spreading out the work within a week can make it less stressful. These homework assignments help students build up strong vocabulary and writing skills for later on. Another important tip: never write your homework in red ink because writing in red in Asian culture is bad luck.

2. Work with classmates that stay on track: One of the main and best ways to boost your grade is through projects! For the majority of the projects, you get to choose who you get to work with. Chinese projects can range from having to give a tour of your house in Chinese, scripting and acting in Chinese, doing a video report on YouTube, or having a PSA (Public Service Announcement) project on safety. Projects that require writing a script are mostly filmed or recorded outside of school, but use class time wisely to work on scripts or just practice lines. Make sure to have people that you are comfortable working with since you might have to speak up in a group to get the work done! Having people who are skilled in certain aspects like filming, acting, and editing a video can also make your presentation flow much smoother. These projects help you implement your Chinese language skills in your daily life. They can be fun to make with your friends, but make sure you don’t procrastinate until the last minute, or else it will take a lot of work. 

3. Make Quizlets: Another large part of Chinese class is learning hundreds of terms during a limited period. This may seem scary at first, but doing well on the quizzes can help bring your grade up too! Just creating a Quizlet can help you remember the words and make it easier to memorize. However, if you don’t have time, you could always ask your classmates to see if they have already made a Quizlet set! This is because in Chinese class, we are a community. We share Quizlets with each other and practice with each other. Making Quizlets is an excellent way to memorize terms quickly and efficiently, and having a group to study with is an excellent plus, too. By using your computer or phone, reviewing the terms at least once a day will significantly aid in committing the words to memory, increasing your retention for remembering the words for the future and helping you perform better on the test.

4. Ask Questions: When you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask Mrs. Sung or your classmates. To perform well on both occasional word tests and unit tests, you’ll have to know how to use the word in a sentence. You’ll have a limited amount of time, so it is difficult to catch up once you lose the track. For example, Seihyun Lee (’25) had a word test last week. He had a question on how to use the word 不可缺少 (Bù kě quē shǎo), but because he was too tired, he forgot to ask anyone. Unfortunately, there was a question on the test that asked him to write a sentence using the word 不可缺少, and he got it wrong. Learn from the mistake Lee made, and make sure to ask questions before the exams!

5. Do the Extra Credits: Once in a while, Mrs. Sung offers extra credit assignments. If you’re struggling to bring up your grade, this is a relatively easy and fun way to bring it up. For example, a few weeks ago, we did an extra credit assignment where, in Chinese, we ordered food from Mr. Wok and Sushi. This gave us the opportunity to be with friends, practice our Chinese, and get extra credit. Most of this class’s extra credit assignments are used to help students try using their Chinese outside of the classroom. During our sophomore year of high school, we were given the extra credit of going to New York City for a Chinese fair held in Chinatown. This helped students assimilate with the culture while interacting with the locals. Overall, Chinese extra credits are a great way to not only raise your grade but also a chance to use the language outside the classroom and in public. 


Chinese class offers students a gateway into learning a different culture from what students are used to. Taking this class requires diligence, from consistent homework completion to collaborating with other classmates to blend their skills together. Using resources such as Quizlet and actively engaging in class discussions, students can find a way to do well in this class. This class also gives students the opportunity to use their Chinese speaking skills outside the classroom by using extra credit assignments. Commencing Chinese class may initially appear daunting, but with focus and dedication, students will be able to learn and excel in this course. 

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About the Contributors
David Shin
David Shin, Senior Staff Writer
David Shin ('25) is a Senior Staff Writer for The Echo. He is looking forward to covering stories of any genre that might pique the interest of students at Tenafly High School.
Jacob Dardashti
Jacob Dardashti, Staff Writer
Jacob Dardashti (’25) is excited to write for The Echo. He likes to play tennis, bake, and travel. He looks forward to sharing his stories with an audience.
Seihyun (Shawn) Lee
Seihyun (Shawn) Lee, Guest Writer
Seihyun (Shawn) Lee ('25) is excited to be a guest writer for The Echo. He enjoys sharing his stories and listening to others' stories. He also enjoys coding, so he made a social media site called Atrable, where people can share their stories through audios and videos. He seems to be quite proud of it.