Chinese Classes Go Beyond Language To Teach Life Skills, Technology, and How To Cook Fried Rice

Chinese Classes Go Beyond Language To Teach Life Skills, Technology, and How To Cook Fried Rice
Carrie Becher

Students in Mrs. Tseng’s Chinese classes created video cards to celebrate the Lunar New Year that began on February 12 this year, using culturally relevant images and colors in digital designs created in Canva, a graphic design platform.

“I want my students to develop skills they will use later in life,” said Mrs. Tseng, who is called “Lao shi” (teacher) by her students and who often incorporates technology and hands-on activities into her classroom. In addition to language skills, projects in her classes include folding origami, crafting New Year’s lanterns from red envelopes (a traditional Chinese New Year element), attending a martial arts session (in non-pandemic years), and recording cooking videos where students make fried rice.

Videos and Fried Rice…Yummm

“My students want to know who is Iron Chef this year,” she said, referring to the top honors awarded to the student who produces the best cooking video for her level 2 classes. The assignment requires each student to prepare fried rice, give step-by-step directions in Chinese, and record a video of their cooking demonstration. Winners earn the Iron Chef title along with archival status, as their video is saved for future students to watch. “I assign this before Thanksgiving each year so students can prepare a meal for their family. Some wear chef’s clothing or add a sense of humor.”

In addition to the practical skill of learning how to cook a traditional Chinese meal, the fried rice project also helps students practice video recording and editing skills using software on their laptops. Mr. Talken, Director of Educational Technology, visited Mrs. Tseng’s classroom as a guest teacher to show students basic video production skills, such as how to organize their timeline, compile their audio and video clips, and complete a finished product. “Think about how you want this to play out in your brain,” advised Mr. Talken. “Watch cooking shows. Plan out your shots.”

3D Printing, College Credit, and Good Luck

As a senior earning college credit from Mrs. Tseng’s Chinese 4 class, Mark Mersmann ’21 continued the inspiration of hands-on application and opted to design a 3D-printed ox in honor of the Chinese New Year. “I took 3D Printing as a class last year,” he said, deciding to apply the skill to the cultural lessons he’s learned from Mrs. Tseng over the last four years.

He presented the ox to Mrs. Tseng, celebrating 2021 and the year of the ox. “I have such creative students,” said Mrs. Tseng. “I’m so lucky.”

Based on the number of students who give glowing reviews of her classes, and the percentage of students who earn National Chinese Honor Society certificates each year, it is fair to say there are mutual feelings of very good fortune.

2020-2021 Fried Rice Cooking Video Honors

Iron Chef Will Gloriod '23

Outstanding Effort Dominic Del Pietro '22


Students at De Smet Jesuit take at least two years of a world language, many earning college credit while at high school. Advanced options are available in all three languages offered: Chinese, Latin, and Spanish. Learn more about our world languages curriculum here or explore the online Curriculum Guide here.

digital video card wishing Happy Lunar New Year, reds, golds
Mrs. Tseng leans over laptop to help student
digital video card wishing Happy Lunar New Year, reds, golds, blues, ox
digital video card wishing Happy Lunar New Year, reds, golds with ox and coins
student wearing mask works on folding red paper for Chinese lantern
digital video card wishing Happy Lunar New Year, reds, golds
digital video card wishing Happy Lunar New Year, reds, golds, blues
digital video card wishing Happy Lunar New Year, reds, golds
digital video card wishing Happy Lunar New Year, reds, golds
digital video card wishing Happy Lunar New Year, reds, golds
digital video card wishing Happy Lunar New Year, reds, golds

More News & Spartan Voices