Fun with cooking and teaching chinese

“I like cooking and always feel happy when seeing others eating what I have cooked. But it never occurred to me that cooking had anything to do with Chinese teaching and the promotion of Chinese language.”


Currently there are over 4,000 Chinese language teachers and volunteers teaching Chinese in Confucius Institutes, primary and secondary schools and universities throughout the world. While spreading Chinese language and culture, these cultural envoys personally experienced exchanges and interactions with different teaching practices and other cultures. The column of Teachers’ Voices is a channel where Chinese language teachers and volunteers can share their teaching experience with each other. There will also be a collection of stories on their unique experiences in foreign lands these cultural envoys can share with our readers.

Yuan Shaofeng, a Chinese teacher at NSW Department of Education and Training, Australia

The Centre for Learning Innovation (CLI) is designed to provide teachers and learners with high-level, quality learning resources. It also provides continuous exploration opportunities in science and technology and guides teachers and students to study using modern technology. CLI is popular among learners because it adds variety to classes, expands knowledge and stimulates interest. It plays an important role in education in New South Wales, Australia.

CLI, also under Australia’s Ministry of Education, has been in close contact with our language training department for years.

One day, Yoko, in charge of developing Chinese teaching resources at CLI, called me and Evelyn Man, a local academic advisor at our department. She said she wanted to develop an online Chinese learning resource. This was good for Chinese learners; so, we were happy to offer help. According to the requirements of local learners, we determined several subjects, such as Chinese forms of greeting, introducing hobbies and parttime activities, and describing Chinese cuisine. We also produced written scripts for each topic. Because we all worked towards the same objective, we had a very smooth and happy time. When all things had been done, we looked forward to the new interesting and lively Chinese teaching program.


A few days later, Yoko sent me an email, with the subject of “Help.” Upon seeing the subject, I was taken aback, wondering what had happened. After reading it, I felt much relieved. She was just short of some pictures of Chinese food. But from her anxiety, I knew she considered it important for the program. Since, as a foreigner, she was so enthusiastic about the Chinese teaching program; I felt compelled to engage actively in the project. I asked another Chinese teacher for help and we prepared the pictures Yoko needed. To avoid copyright issues, I decided to make the Chinese traditional food myself and take the required photos. I brought all the food out of my refrigerator and made the most typical traditional food – Chinese dumplings, which is also my specialty. I mixed fried rice with green beans, carrot, meat and eggs. When cooking, I took into consideration the taste and the appearance. I remembered I still had some broccoli and black fungus, so I made another dish with the orange carrots, green broccoli and black fungus – another beautiful and healthy dish.

I was taking photos while cooking, which was really fun and interesting. The dumplings’ color looked a little monotonous so I put a branch of red plum flowers beside it to compose a perfect picture. In this way, I produced several pictures of Chinese food myself.

Having taken photos, I took the dumplings to our office for breakfast and invited my colleagues to have a taste. I also told them the significance of the dumplings in Chinese culture. My colleagues at the University of Western Sydney were all delighted.

I like cooking and always feel happy when seeing others eating what I have cooked. But it never occurred to me that cooking had anything to do with Chinese teaching and the promotion of Chinese language.

Confucius Institute Magazine 4

pdfPublished in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 4. Volume IV. September 2009.
View/Download the print issue in PDF


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