Field Trips Live: Holiday Round Robin

Flashing back to the holiday season, the following is a highlight reel of reflections from BGL’s junior high superstars at Tsai Hsing School. This special event was a multi-point Holiday Field Trip Live that connected the students live to teachers in North Carolina, Portland, OR, Los Angeles and Taipei simultaneously. In a brand new round-robin format, students moved digitally from room to room to hear personal reflections on December holiday traditions. 

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A critical component of BGL’s FTL model is to facilitate thoughtful activities after the trip so that students can synthesize and apply whatever they learn during the trip. The students chosen to share their work here showed great attention to detail, thoughtful word choice and a true showcase of their refined English skills!


Christmas is an especially important holiday for Christians. There are lots of different kinds of ways to celebrate Christmas. Some people wear a Christmas hat and dress up. On the other hand, some people prefer to decorate a Christmas tree or even have a great big meal. Americans have some fascinating ways to celebrate Christmas.

First of all, some people in America get together and do special things. Some make cookies and others make a gingerbread. Some people even make a very big cake for their relatives. Others go out and have a big meal. Same as always, they have a long break and people go out.

Second, Americans help others. Sometimes if they have cookies or some small snacks that they cannot finish eating it, they give poor people their cookies. Some people even invite poor people to their house and celebrate with them.

Last, people decorate lots of things. People usually decorate their house to make their house bright and shiny. Most famous landmarks, such as Venice Canals, put some fantastic decorations to make people feel warm and delighted.

Christmas is a really big day you can spend time with your relatives or friends. You just finished my article. Why not go home and spend time with your favorite people from anywhere in the world and say “Merry Christmas” to them!


On Christmas, Americans spend time having fun with their family. They have a Christmas tree, stockings, and lots of fun things to do together. They put lots of gifts under the tree for their children. The children think the gifts are from Santa and are excited about the gifts. Children put their stockings on their bedroom door for Santa to put gifts in. People sing Christmas songs with family to spread Christmas cheer. Some people bake cookies and make gingerbread houses with friends and family. Christmas sounds like it is so much fun, I would like to celebrate Christmas, too!


Christmas is a well-known holiday in many countries. Today, there are many different ways to celebrate Christmas, not only sending presents. The Christmas tree is always a must on Christmas. Now, people buy artificial trees to replace real trees that were cut down. It is more eco-friendly and more convenient. You don’t need to go to the forest to cut down trees every year just use the same tree is appropriate. If you got the tree, the next step is to decorate it. Ornaments now are more choices not only balls and strings. You can put up your photos from young to old around the tree or write some wishes on a paper hang it up.

Some gingerbread on a cold day is a great enjoyment. Roll the dough and cut the shape you want with cutters. Caroling is also important on Christmas Day. Singing the traditional songs for Christmas is making the day better and more fun. Now, more people don’t send gifts to family members but homeless shelters. They don’t have a home or a family so it kind of you to send them some blankets or hot tea and cookies.

All in all, Christmas is a day of joy and love. Presents or gifts aren’t as important as you think if you do something more than you do normally. Try to celebrate your Christmas a different and fun way.


Americans celebrate Christmas in different ways. Many Americans celebrate Christmas with their families or friends. They exchange gifts and eat dinner together. They put their gifts under Christmas trees or in socks on Christmas Eve. And on Christmas, they will happily open their presents. Some Americans will buy Christmas trees and decorate it. The decorations are warm and often have a big star on the top of it.

Some Americans make Christmas snacks, like gingerbread houses and candy canes. Christmas is a warm holiday to celebrate. Every American’s celebration is unique and can’t be replaced. All Americans have their own traditions, we should respect all of them.

Halloween in China: Kindergarten Ghostbusters Dance Off

The teachers, students and parents at our kindergarten in Kunshan, China celebrated Halloween by dressing in costume and dancing in unison the famous Ghostbusters theme from the 1980s. Of course they did!

BGL Teachers Mike, Heather and Lucas led the groups not only with excellent dance skills but also superior costume-ability.
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And here’s a shot of Teacher Ashley celebrating the holiday with Batman himself at our kindergarten in Taiwan:


How did your students celebrate the holiday abroad? Leave a comment below! And, Happy Halloween!

Children’s Day – A National Holiday in Taiwan

Kids love holidays, but kids in Taiwan actually get their own holiday. Celebrated on April 4th by schools all around Taiwan, Children’s Day is public holiday that shows appreciation for Taiwanese youngsters and promotes the bond between parents and children.

The holiday dates back to 1925 when a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland brought 54 countries together to discuss children’s physical needs, spiritual well-being and educational opportunities. Many of these countries went on to establish Children’s Days to call attention to these issues and to celebrate the future leaders of the world.

This year, Tsai Hsing School honored their students with a fun-filled day that focused on the kids. The school extended the length of the 10-minute breaks between classes to 20 minutes and as a result it seemed that children’s laughter filled the campus all day long. Students performed on the great lawn – singing songs and dancing – while others played diabolo (like a Chinese yoyo) and basketball. The energy and excitement was zapping through the air as students laughed with their friends and teachers during some hard-earned free time.

In the classroom, Teacher Chad celebrated with his first grade class by doing an interactive read aloud with The Class from the Black Lagoon.

Teacher Chad reads The Classroom from the Black Lagoon on Children's Day.
Teacher Chad reads The Classroom from the Black Lagoon on Children’s Day.

How did your students celebrate Children’s Day? If you don’t celebrate this holiday, how would you do it if you had the chance?

Teacher Chad gives his students a lift.
Teacher Chad gives his students a lift.

From all the teachers and staff at Banyan Global Learning, Happy Children’s Day!

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Discover Chinese New Year Traditions By Teaching English

Genuine cultural exchange is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching students from other cultures. This year, students have about 3 weeks off from school for Chinese New Year, and some of our junior high students recently shared some of their personal traditions for this special holiday.

New Year’s Eve

Similar to New Year’s Eve celebrations in America, Taiwanese families have a great midnight celebration. One student explained, “ the later you stay up on the first day of the year, the longer your parents will live.” Some are fortunate enough to witness the magnificent fireworks display at Taipei 101. Others may enjoy fireworks at home with their families while they reminisce about the past year.

New Year’s Day

After staying up into the early morning hours and eating a large traditional meal, the first day of the new year is one of rest and relaxation for Taiwanese families. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins gather together on New Year’s Day to enjoy the company of one another, and to exchange the ubiquitous red envelopes . From their elders, children receive small amounts of money in these red envelopes, which symbolize luck, peace and safety in the new year.

red envelopes


During the holiday season, families gamble with pocket change: Taiwanese coins worth anywhere from pennies up to about $1.50 (USD). Card games like poker and dice games are a favorite, along with mahjong, an old Chinese game of strategy. Many people look forward to winning money from their family members.

Have you ever played mahjong?

Have you ever played mahjong?



Many Taiwanese families travel due to the long break. Some travel to the warmer southern cities of Tainan, Kenting and Kaohsiung to visit family and enjoy traditional food. One student will take a bike ride in the mountains of Pingtung, and another looks forward to the beautiful scenery of Yilan. But not all families stay on the island for the holiday. Many travel to other countries nearby, like Thailand, Korea, Myanmar and Guam. A popular destination is Japan, where families can have a fun, snowy holiday. Some students will even travel as far as Israel and America.

Yilan is one of the most popular travel spots on the island of Taiwan.

Yilan is one of the most popular travel spots on the island of Taiwan.


Aerial view of Taiwan at night.

Aerial view of Taiwan at night.



A reunion dinner brings Taiwanese families together for the holiday. Many families eat hot pot: fresh vegetables and meat cooked in a delicious broth. Other families enjoy fish and rice cakes, which are considered lucky for the new year. Dumplings are often eaten just after midnight. One student will partake in the custom of wrapping a coin inside a dumpling. As the family eats the dumplings, whoever finds the coin inside is said to be the luckiest for the new year.

Mmmm... dumplings...

Mmmm… dumplings…


Religious Ceremonies

Some families take part in religious ceremonies during the Chinese New Year. They visit temples to offer food and to burn sticks of incense and paper money in order to honor their ancestors and bring good fortune in the new year. Some people sweep tombs, which involves cleaning the graves of family members.



While Taiwanese families celebrate with rich customs and traditions, many students most enjoy the modern comforts during the Chinese New Year break. Playing video and computer games, shopping with friends, and watching movies and sports are some of the students’ favorite activities. The Taiwanese are a hard-working people even from a young age, so many students just look forward to relaxing and having a break from school.

Bao An Temple in Taiwan.

Bao An Temple in Taiwan.

5 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Taiwan

At BGL we find that celebrating holidays is a great, authentic way to teach culture. Here are five ways we’ve been able to communicate our love for the holiday season with our students in Taiwan.

1. Talk to Holiday Shoppers on a 4G Field Trip to an American Mall

Our Field Trips Live are one of the most popular elements of our program. It’s always fun to see two cultures merge, especially so during the holidays. Here are some images from this year’s trip to Glendale, CA’s Americana:


Students watch a holiday-themed trolly drive by at the Americana mall in Glendale, CA.


A friendly family answers questions from our students, and asks some of their own. The mom is a high school art teacher and thought our field trip was super cool!


A man with a Santa hat pauses from his holiday shopping to ask our students how many of them celebrate Christmas with their families at home.


Teacher Seth shows the students their reflection in his iPhone.

2. Read our Adaptation of A Christmas Carol

We adapt many classic novels so that we can challenge our Taiwanese students with sophisticated concepts while making sure that the texts are at an accessible language level. Our sixth grade classes read the classic Dickens tale each year, and this year we added a song and music video to reinforce the story’s main concepts of reflection and redemption:

3. Have a Teacher Holiday Party

Teaching abroad can be tough during the holidays. Getting together with other expats – and locals – to celebrate can make it all seem just a little closer to home. Teachers Audrey and Sarah did just that: image (6)

4. Listen to BGL’s Family Christmas Song

And, of course, our original Christmas song is a perennial favorite:

5. Celebrate on Campus

Tsai Hsing School’s birthday is 12/25, so in December the campus is filled with Christmas decorations, costumes and pageants. Here are some charming shots of our 4th grade bilingual class and some of our American teachers feeling the Christmas spirit:










Merry Christmas, everyone!


Celebrating Holidays While Teaching Abroad

Holidays can be a difficult time to be away from home while teaching abroad.  But, just as holidays are a special time of year that bring family and friends together, it’s a great opportunity to share your culture with your students and create lasting bonds in your classroom. The following report about celebrating holidays while teaching abroad is from BGL‘s Teacher Jackie and Teacher Becky.


Xin nian kuai le!  Happy Chinese New Year!  While teaching in Taiwan, it has been an amazing experience to share American holiday traditions with our students, and to learn more about their culture through celebrations. Teacher Jackie, normally a Distance Learning teacher for IDEEL, was fortunate enough to be on campus to celebrate Halloween with her students.

Across campus, the holiday was more spirited than expected, from learning about spider webs to participating in a trick-or-treat parade.

ImageSome of the older students were able to make connections with a similar Taiwanese holiday, Tomb Sweeping Day, which celebrates familial ancestors.  Though students do not normally celebrate Halloween outside of school, their parents gladly dress them in costumes for school – or even to go shopping or out to eat! Generally, the costumes are not scary but rather as cute as possible.  Most girls dress up as princesses, and the most popular costume for boys seemed to be superheroes.


Soon after, Thanksgiving comes to town. Teacher Becky had a wonderful time teaching students about turkeys, and other Thanksgiving food. To her surprise, even after much discussion, pictures and videos, many students had no idea what a turkey was, mistaking it for a big chicken. A true cultural exchange was born when the ensuing discussion about traditional American foods evolved into one about traditional Taiwanese foods. Students also made some great paper turkeys and shared what they are thankful for in their lives.  Both the students and the teachers had fun sharing in the Thanksgiving holiday traditions.


And of course, the season of holiday celebrations would not be complete without Christmas.  Teacher Becky found that many students celebrated Christmas at home with their families, so it was easy to get them into the holiday spirit. Decorating each room with a Christmas tree, Teacher Becky made sure that all of her students had a visit from Santa.  Sharing her own family’s tradition, she also had each of her students make an ornament for the class tree.


Though the magic of Christmas captivated the students, they were even more intrigued by snow, which most of them have never experienced or even seen before.  The students really enjoyed learning about snow and making their own snowmen, with the help of Santa Claus, of course.


Back in Los Angeles with her Distance Learning teacher hat on again, Teacher Jackie challenged her 8th grade students to create “twister carols” by rewriting lyrics to a famous Christmas carol.  Meanwhile,

Image5th graders went on a 4G field trip to The Grove, a famous shopping mall in Los Angeles that decks their halls to the max for Christmas. Here they got to see first hand some of the most prominent American Christmas traditions, compliments of Teacher Seth’s interviews with local shoppers.  They also examined the winter wonderland that much of America was experiencing by writing descriptive poems about various images of snow.  The results were impressive despite the lack of personal experience with snow.

With the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration, 7th grade Distance Learning students made connections to the recent New Year celebration in America by writing resolutions.  Below is an example of the fine work that was produced by 701 student, Dylan.


Meanwhile, in Taiwan, Teacher Becky celebrated the New Year with her Kindergarten classes after discussing the similarities and differences between the American and Taiwanese New Year traditions.  Teacher Becky found that in both Taiwan and America, eating certain foods is believed to bring wealth and good fortune – in Taiwan, it’s fish, while in the American South, it’s collard greens and black-eyed peas.  Both cultures also share a tradition of money for the New Year, with Taiwanese exchanging red envelopes with gifts of money. The students really enjoyed sharing their traditional dragons with Teacher Becky to welcome in the New Year.

Celebrating American holidays with students in foreign countries is such a special and rewarding experience.  To see students embrace American traditions with enthusiasm and wonder, while also sharing their own rich holiday traditions, is an opportunity unique to teaching and traveling abroad.  In what ways do you celebrate holidays with your students?