Monday, January 30, 2017

Write Happy New Year in Chinese Quickly and Easily!

(This post has been updated for 2023.)

Happy Year of the Rabbit!  Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival as it’s known in China, begins soon and traditionally lasts for 15 days.  Rabbits are kind, popular, and artistically talented.  However, they can also be cautious, temperamental, and uncaring.

Image showing the Chinese zodiac animal of a rabbit, with Happy New Year in Chinese characters above and the English phrase underneath
Source: The ESL Nexus

After I moved to Arizona, I taught a class of 7th and 8th graders how to write Happy New Year in Chinese.  Because I worked in China for a few years, I learned how to write at an elementary level so it was easy for me to guide the students in writing the Chinese characters.

Image showing model of picture, with Mandarin phrase written in Chinese characters and Pinyin and stamps of Chinese characters in the corners
My model for students; source: The ESL Nexus

How to Write Happy New Year in Chinese

Here’s a quick and easy way you can have your students write the greeting in Chinese, along with the Pinyin Romanization of the Chinese characters.  In Mandarin, which is the language I learned, it’s pronounced more or less like this: Sheen Nee-en Kwhy Luh.  The marks over the vowels of the Pinyin letters indicate the tones on the words.  If you are interested, you can use Google Translation to hear how the phrase is really pronounced because it’s difficult for me to explain it briefly and clearly.  I also want to point out that in Cantonese, the phrase is different. 

Materials Needed

* A copy of the template, shown below, for every student; you can find it here.  You’ll be asked to make a copy for yourself and then you can download the file.  (The template does not have my logo on it.)
* Crayons and/or colored markers to color in the outlined words and characters.
* If you have stamps with Chinese designs or designs of flowers or words that say, for example, Love or Harmony or Peace, students can use them to decorate their sign.  Otherwise, they can use the crayons or markers and draw their own pictures.
* If you do use stamps, then obviously you’ll need ink pads, too.

Image of outline of the Mandarin phrase in Chinese characters and Pinyin
Template for writing Happy New Year in Chinese; download it HERE


Step 1: Make a copy of the template for all your students.
Step 2: Tell students to color in the outlined characters and words.  Red and yellow are colors often found in traditional Chinese New Year decorations.
Step 3: Tell students to write Happy New Year in English in the blank space at the top of the paper.  I recommend that they first write it lightly in pencil so the words are large enough and are centered, and then go over it with colored markers or crayons.
Step 4: If you have stamps, students can use them to decorate their signs however they wish.  If you don’t have stamps, students can just draw pictures and designs to decorate their signs if they want.

Image showing what the finished picture looks like after writing the phrase in Mandarin
Example of a finished sign; source: The ESL Nexus

When done, you can create a colorful bulletin board display or just let your students take their signs home.

As a Chinese proverb says, "Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere."  For more activities related to Chinese New Year, please click here to see all my China-related resources.