Last week I finished a lesson on the wonders of the world and China. I learned a lot getting ready for this lesson and found out fast that it would be hard to talk about wonders of the world since there are dozens of different lists of the seven wonders of the world, so I decided to talk about wonders of China. After all, the original list of seven was created as more of a tourist campaign than anything else with seven because it was a significant number in ancient Greece.
I made a list of 16 places and things around China that I considered a kind of wonder because of its history, significance, architecture, engineering or beauty. We discussed each of these in class and I let the students choose what would be on our list of eight (it’s a lucky number here) and let me know if I missed any place.
They would suggest what should be on the list and I would ask them why. They would then have to give reasons for or against different places. This got them talking and sharing their opinions. It was very effective for all but one class. In the end each class chose their own list of eight, which I then combined with all the others to find the most popular eight. Here is our list of the Eight Wonders of China:
- The Great Wall – obvious choice since the whole world knows what it is
- The Forbidden City – home to Chinese government for more than 500 years (1/10th of the country’s history)
- Dunhuang – an oasis city on the Silk Road and important religious site
- The Terracotta Army – more than 8,000 pottery soldiers individually crafted 200 years before Christ
- The Giant Panda – China’s modern symbol (we discussed Panda Diplomacy and how this cute animal helped build relationships with many countries of the West
- The Potala Palace – a centuries-old complex in Tibet where the Dalai Lama lived and the center of the ancient Tibetan culture
- Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) – right here in Anhui, these are some of the most famous mountains in China and are the subject to many paintings us westerners have seen
- The Li River in Guangxi – One of the most scenic places in China, so much so that it is on the 20 Yuan note
The first five on the list were agreed upon by all of my classes and most Chinese people would probably agree. It was a fun and effective lesson to get them talking and sharing coherent thoughts in English.