Matt and Jean’s English class 8:

Ninmen Hao,

I hope you all had a happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Zhongqiu kuale!

Today we will begin by talking a little about the mid-Autumn festival and the importance of family life.

Then in the second half of the class we will use the reading and exercises on “The Village Festival” from the textbook Face to Face, pages 52-3, and page 164 (the video/audio transcript is video 6, cd2, 11).

Class part one: Mid-Autumn festival

We had a happy family time together during the mid-Autumn festival, and particularly enjoyed seeing family members who live and work far away. We ate a lot of Moon Cakes, but also had many other delicious foods, including crabs, shrimps, and fish. All of these seafoods are very fresh (the crabs and shrimps are still alive when we buy them from the market), so they are really good to eat then.

Some of the people in our family normally work six days a week, for long hours, and family autumn festivalhave to spend several hours each day travelling to and from work. So they have very little time to spend with family. That makes the holidays, like the Mid-Autumn festival, very precious. My sister-in-law was very happy to have her son home for the holiday and to see him for a whole week seemed like a luxury. His grandfather was also very happy to have him and all of the family together. I think that when people work and study so hard and for such long hours family time becomes even more valuable.

As Mid-Autumn approached during the week, the moon grew bigger and bigger. By the time of the festival, it was enormous and hung low in the sky.


Mid-Autumn traditions: the changing of the seasons

Mid-Autumn comes at an opportune time; traditionally, having toiled through summer and autumn, farmers would now celebrate the fruits of their labour under the bright, full moon. The Round mooncakes split up among family members, reaffirm and celebrate the household’s unity.


There are many traditional poems about the Autumn moon. One famous one by Li Bao expresses longing:

li bao still night thought


Another, by Du Fu (712-770 A.D), also uses the image of the moon to express homesickness;

Moonlit night

The moon over Fuzhou tonight,

My wife must watch it alone in our room.

Sadly, I think of my children far away,

They are too young to understand my absence and remember the time in Chang’an.

Her flowing hair is damp with fragrant mist,

And her jade-white arms are chilled in this clear moonlight,

When will we lean at the open window together,

While the moonlight dries our tears?

One of the traditional stories associated with the Mid-Autumn festival is The Jade Rabbit.

The Jade Rabbit

Jade Rabbit's image
A Rabbit Shaped latern

Once upon a time, there were three animals living in a forest: a fox, a rabbit, and a monkey.

Three immortals, pretending to be beggars, went through the forest asking for food. The fox and the monkey quickly offered them food.

The rabbit, who was less resourceful but very pious, felt guilty. She said, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t offer any food to help you, but I can give myself,” and jumped into the fire.

The three immortals were moved by the rabbit’s sacrifice, and decided make the rabbit an immortal, sending her to live in the Moon Palace.

A Tianjinese mid-autumn tradition? A Moonlit Crab Crawl to Bring Wealth and Fortune

moonlight crab crawlI read that there was once a local mid-autumn festival custom called ‘crab crawl moon’ along Tianjin’s coast. On the evening of the Moon Festival, people put small candles or oil twists on crabs’ backs. Then let them loose in the yard to observe their movements.

If the majority of crabs stayed crawling inside the courtyard, it symbolized fortune and wealth would visit the family. But, if the majority of crabs crawled towards the gate, it meant the family would suffer financial loss.

Mothers would tell their children to drive the escaping crabs back into the yard, to reverse the trend of bad luck. Finally, after a hard crawl, those crabs that brought the hope of becoming richer to the family would be placed in a steamer and became the family’s dinner.

Pause for reflection: some questions to use to practice your English speaking

  1. How was your Mid-Autumn festival time?
  2. Did family come to stay? Who came home and from where did they come?
  3. What did you do to celebrate?
  4. Did you travel or go anywhere special for the holiday? Where do you go, who did you travel with or go to see?
  5. What did you cook? What did you eat?
  6. What traditional customs do you like for the Mid-Autumn Festival?
  7. What poems or stories for autumn and the moon do you like? Are there other cultural ways of celebrating the festival?

Part Two: “The Village Festival”


Below is the transcript of the villagers’ discussion (this first part it is also on page 164, and the second part on page 53 [6a] of your book, Face to Face”. Let’s read it together.

Discussion part One: The Village Festival”

Ian: right, are we ready to start? Okay, as you know, we’re planning to hold a festival in the summer to celebrate the 200th anniversary of our village. Now, we’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m happy to hear everyone’s opinions and suggestions.

Rebecca: Perhaps the first thing to discuss is what sort of entertainment we want.

Lisa: Yes, that seems a good place to start.

Duncan: May I make a suggestion?

Ian: Yes, of course, Duncan.

Duncan: How about having some live music? We could put up a stage on the village green for the weekend.

Ian: Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Who shall we get to play?

Rebecca: We could hire some professional musicians.

Ian: I’m not sure about that. For one thing, they could be quite expensive.

Duncan: What about charging people 5 pounds each to get into the festival? That would raise quite a lot of money.

Rebecca: Sorry, I don’t think we should do that. I think the festival should be free for everyone.

Lisa: yes, I agree. A lot of people won’t come if they have to pay.

Duncan: Well, we could ask bands to play for free. There are lots of local bands who’d love to play at a festival, I’m sure.

Rebecca: Yes, we could put an ad in the local paper and on the website.

Ian: well, it’s definitely worth a try. But will still need to raise some money to pay for the stage and the lights, that sort of thing.

Lisa: I’ve got an idea! Let’s have a festival raffle and ask people to buy raffle tickets when they come in. Then we can use the money we make to pay for the festival.

Duncan: Yes that’s not a bad idea.

Rebecca: Can I make a point here?

Ian: Of course.

Rebecca: If we have a raffle, will need to buy prizes. So we might not make enough money to pay for the festival.

Duncan: Well, why don’t we ask local businesses to donate the prizes for free? It would be good advertising for them.

Ian: Yes, that could work. Okay, what else could we do?

Lisa: Have you thought of asking the school to put on a musical in the daytime?

Rebecca: That’s a brilliant idea! Parents would love that.

Ian: okay. I’ll talk to the headteacher this week. And what about food and drink?

Duncan: Why don’t we make all the food ourselves?

Lisa: I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I think people in the village will want to enjoy the festival, not make sandwiches all day.

Ian: Well, we can just have stalls selling burgers, chips, sandwiches and staff – every festival has those.

Duncan: Er, can I just say something here?

Ian: Sure, go ahead.

Duncan: As it’s a village festival, I think we need to involve the people who live in the village in the festival a bit more.

Ian: Okay. So how can we do that?

Duncan: I suggest we have some competitions, you know, the best cake, the biggest vegetables, the most beautiful pet, that kind of thing. People always love those.

Ian: Yes, that’s a great idea! Okay, let’s just go over what we’ve got so far.

Pause for reflection: Questions about festivals (question 1, page 52)

  1. have you ever been to a festival or street party in your town or city? If so, tell the group about it.
  2. What sort of entertainment is there at traditional festivals in your country?
  3. What are the best and worst things about going to a festival?

Now let’s do some of the additional questions:

Question 2b: what sort of entertainment are they planning to have at the festival?

Questions 3A: True or false (say why)?

  1. The festival is to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the village.
  2. They’re going to charge people 5 pounds to get into the festival.
  3. They’re going to advertise for local bands to play for free.
  4. They want people in the village to donate prizes for the raffle.
  5. Ian’s going to ask the headteacher at the school to put on a musical.
  6. Lisa thinks the people in the village should make the food.
  7. Rebecca suggests having some competitions for people in the village.

Real world discussion language


merge_from_ofoct (3)

Use the words in the boxes to fill in the gaps below.


Let’s practice our pronunciation, a focus on getting the intonation and stresses right for these completed sentences.

OK, now let’s do exercise  6a together (from page 53 of Face to Face)

Ian, Rebecca, Duncan and Lisa continue their discussion, but sometimes they forgot how to order their words correctly. Let’s help them by correcting the word order of some of the following sentences.

Ian: OK, next we need to make a date for the festival.

Rebecca: make/ a/ I/ suggestion/ may?

Ian: of course.

Rebecca: having/ August/ about/ What/ the/ in/ festival ?

Lisa: like/ Yes,/ idea/ good/ sounds/ that/ a.

The weather’s usually good in August.

Duncan: festival/ three-day/ have/ we/ Perhaps/ a/ could.

Ian: do/ don’t /should/ that/ I/ think/ Sorry,/ we.

I think two days is enough.

Duncan: Yes, you’re probably right.

Ian: OK, what other entertainment can we have?

Lisa: match/ How/ organising/ about/ a/ football ?

Ian: idea/ bad/ Yes,/ a/ not/ that’s.

Duncan: we/ club/ suggest/ football/ to/ talk/ the/ the/ I/ local .

Rebecca: here/ say/ I/ something/ just/ Can ?

Ian: Yes, of course.

Rebecca: thought/ the festival/ Have/ a celebrity/ of/ asking/ you/ to open ?

Lisa: that’s/ idea/ a/ Yes,/ brilliant!

Ian: it’s/ try/ Well,/ worth/ a/ definitely .

Duncan: sure/ good/ I’m / Sorry,/ a/ that’s/ idea/ not .

For one thing, celebrities are expensive. And also …

Finally, let’s do exercise 7a and b (page 53).

7a. Your class is going to organise a festival at the university. Working in pairs, think of ideas for these topics, and use the language from the real world discussion exercise above.

  • when and where to have the festival
  • music
  • competitions
  • other types of entertainment
  • food and drink
  • how to pay for the festival
  • how to advertise the festival
  • any other idea

7b. Now work in groups of 4 (or so) to discuss the festival with your partners. Decide on one festival theme and agree on the issues raised in 7a (in English please!). Once completed (approx 10 mins) we’ll share your ideas with the class.














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