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A Chinese Fairytale

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Mandarin has a reputation as one of the hardest languages to learn, but students from Mr Mikklesen’s Year 10 Chinese class made it look effortless this week, with their entertaining adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood.


Writing and performing a play in Mandarin to showcase their learning was all part of the students’ end-of-year assessment task. On Tuesday they had an opportunity to perform their version of Little Red Riding Hood to a packed audience, which included Dr Scott, parents and, dauntingly, some of our native Chinese-speaking students.


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Fairy tales are so well-known that they lend themselves to a performance retelling in any language. Much of our day-to-day communication is non-verbal. Facial expressions, hand gestures and body language are essential elements of how we communicate with one another. The students used physical movement and facial expression to convey meaning to great comedic effect, much to the delight of their audience.


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For the Mandarin-challenged members of the audience, it was easy to transcend the language barrier as ‘Little Red Hat’ hat skipped her way through a familiar darkened forest to deliver pastries to her lupine-looking grandmother or ‘nai nai’. The famous “what-big-teeth-you-have grandma” line was greeted with peals of laughter as ‘nai nai’ leapt up from her sick bed to devour Little Red Hat.


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There is a wonderful mellifluous musical underpinning to Chinese, with rising, falling or level intonation changing the meaning of a word. The girls did well to capture the language’s beauty and for the non-Mandarin speakers, the effect was immensely pleasing to the ear.


Mr Mikklesen was delighted with their efforts. Better still, the native Chinese-speakers in the audience said they were impressed with the girls’ performance. Zuòde hǎo! 

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