How to read and write Chinese Characters – Go to school (Shang Xue Ge)

Hello Class! It is time for our lesson on Chinese characters once again. In today’s lesson, we will learn to read, write and pronounce the Chinese characters 太阳, 小鸟, 书包, 学校, 迟到and 劳动. All these while, we have concentrated mainly on Chinese words consisting only one character. Today, we will be touching on Chinese words containing two Chinese characters.

In today’s lesson, we will be listening to this children song in Mandarin about going to school. Let us have a look at the lyrics of the song.

Simplified Chinese


Traditional Chinese


The first pair is太阳 tàiyáng. Do you know what is tàiyáng? It is something we can see during the day, it is hot and in the sky. If you say the Sun, then you are absolutely correct. 太阳 is the Sun in English. The traditional form is written as 太陽. The word is under the radical and has four strokes altogether. This word alone means too, extreme and very. It is pronounced in the 4th tone. 阳 on the other hand is under the radical and has six strokes altogether.  阳 is pronounced in the 2nd tone. Although this word by itself also means sun, you do not say阳 only when you are referring to the Sun. You have to say太阳.



xiǎoniǎo in English means birdie or little bird. The Simplified Chinese character 鸟 is written as 鳥 in the traditional form. As we have explained the Chinese word 小 before, we will not explain it again here. Please refer to our previous lesson for more detailed information about this Chinese word. 鸟niǎo is under the radical and has five strokes when written in the simplified form. It is pronounced in the 3rd tone. When talking about birds, you can use only the Chinese characters鸟 and omit the other Chinese character 小. 小 is an adjective describing the bird. 小 means small.


shūbāo is something you carry when you go to school. The traditional form is written as 書包. The second Chinese character 包 is the same word whether you write it in Simplified or Traditional form. The first Chinese word shū, means books and pronounced in the 1st tone. The simplified form is under the radicaland has four strokes altogether. bāo, on the other hand, means to cover, bag, to wrap, to include. It is under the radical and has five strokes. This Chinese word is in the 1st tone as well.

学校xuéxiào is a place or a building used for learning. It is school in English. The traditional form is written as 學校. The first character has more strokes but the second Chinese character remains unchanged. 学xué in the 2nd tone, is under the radical and has eight strokes. 学xué means to learn or study. The 2nd Chinese word xiào, which is in the 4th tone, means school. It is under the radical木 and has ten strokes. When talking about your school, you need to say学校 (xuéxiào) rather than just 校.

chídào is something you should avoid at all cost if you do not want to be penalized by your teacher or your boss. Yes, it means to be late or to arrive late. The Chinese word 迟chí when written in the traditional form , is written as遲. It is in the 2nd tone and under the radical. This word itself means late. The second Chinese character 到dào has been explained in our previous lesson. Can you remember what it means?

劳动láodòng means work or labor. The traditional form of these two Chinese characters are 勞動. The Chinese word is under the radical力, which means strength. It is pronounced in the second tone and has seven strokes. This Chinese character itself means to work, to labor, to trouble oneself. dòng, on the other hand, means to move, to act or movement. is pronounced in the fourth tone and under the radical as well. It has six strokes when written in the simplified form. Do you how to say Labor Day in Chinese? As you already know that day in Chinese is 节jié,then Labor Day should be 劳动láodòngjié.


Now that we have finished explaining some of the Chinese characters in the children song, let us try to translate the lyrics from Chinese to English. If there are any Chinese characters that you would like us to explain, please kindly leave us a comment.

English Translation with Hanyu Pinyin

Tàiyáng dāng kōng zhào

The sun shining up above

Huār duì wǒ xiào

The flower smiling at me

Xiǎo niǎo shuō zǎo zǎo zǎo

The birdies say morning, morning, morning

Nǐ wèi shé me bèi shàng xiǎo shūbāo

Why are you carrying a small school bag?

Wǒ yào shàng xuéxiào

I am going to school

Tiān tiān bù chídào

Everyday, I am not late

Ài xuéxí, ài láodòng

Love to learn, love to work

Zhǎng dà yào wéi rénmín lì gōngláo

When I grow up, I want to contribute to the society

Isn’t the kid great? He wants to be a useful person when he grows up. We hope all of us will work hard and contribute to our nations as well.

That is all we have in this lesson about Chinese characters. Do come back for more lessons on Mandarin Chinese. See you!

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