Number one for English language teachers

Webquest: Chinese New Year

Level: Intermediate, Upper intermediate

This webquest by Adrian Tennant, published in association with Macmillan’s Discover China series, includes activities on the traditions and food associated with Chinese New Year, as well as the Chinese calendar and zodiac signs. It is free to all onestopenglish users.

ose chinese new year 620x200

Look for the answers to the following questions and share your answers with your partner.

Activity 1: Introduction

What do you know about Chinese New Year? See how many of these questions you can answer, then check your answers using the following weblink:

  1. By what other name is Chinese New Year known?
  2. When is it celebrated?
  3. When is the lantern festival?
  4. Why do people clean their house before the start of New Year?
  5. What do the colours red and gold represent?
  6. Why do children like to get red envelopes?
  7. In the lion dance, why does the lion have a mirror on its head?
  8. What will you often find painted on the new year lanterns?

Activity 2: Traditional food

Food is always important for festivals and celebrations – and for Chinese New Year it is no different. Find the answers to these questions using the following weblink:

1. What is nian gao and where do people eat it?

2. In China, different types of food are often associated with something important. Match these foods with what they represent:

1. fisha. long life
2. chickenb. abundance (having lots of food, etc.)
3. noodlesc. prosperity (wealth)





3. Why mustn’t you cut the noodles?

4. Why don’t Chinese people eat tofu for New Year?

Activity 3: Customs and traditions

Decide whether the following customs and traditions (1–4) and superstitions (5–8) related to Chinese New Year are true (T) or false (F). Then, check your answers using the web pages below:

1. People send each other poems written on red paper.

2. It is considered very lucky for a flower to bloom in someone’s home on New Year’s Day.

3. Flowers are a symbol of fertility.

4. When visiting friends and family for Chinese New Year, you should take a bag of oranges and tangerines as a gift.

Some Chinese people believe that …

5. … rubbish must not be taken out of the front door as the family’s good luck may be lost.

6. … if you cry on New Year’s day, you will be crying for the next month.

7. … the last person you meet and last words you hear on New Year’s day are significant to your fortunes for the whole year.

8. … it is lucky to hear birdsong.

What other superstitions and traditions about Chinese New Year can you find? Are there any that are similar to those in your culture? Discuss these with a partner.

Activity 4: The calendar and zodiac signs

Use the website below to answer these questions.

1. Is the Chinese calendar solar or lunar?

2. How many months are there in the Chinese calendar?

3. How does the Chinese calendar count years?

4. What is special about the year 2033?

5. Which zodiac animals are associated with the years 2017 and 2018?

Go to to find out what your zodiac animal is and what its characteristics are, then compare with a partner. Do the characteristics match your personality?

Find out more about studying Chinese with Macmillan’s Discover China series.

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Great and pleasant lesson to share with students.
    Thank you.

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  • Hi Lizzie,

    Thanks for the lovely feedback. Really nice to hear that you like these resources.

    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • Amazing collection of resources, will give my students a lot of interesting information. Thank you

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  • Hi Laso,

    Thanks for the lovely feedback. Great to hear you found this lesson so useful.

    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • Amazing lesson, thanks a lot!

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  • Hi there,

    Yes you're right, many apologies! We've changed it now to a generic image so that next year it will not look out of date.

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  • My students asked me why there isn't a picture of a monkey at the top the page wishing everyone happy new year as its 2016 now. Instead there is a sheep - last year's zodiac animal.

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  • Very complete, interesting, and easy to use.

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