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Introduction | Episodes |

21 Parent-teacher conference 家长会

Hi everyone 欢迎大家收看成长汉语. Welcome back to another episode of Growing up with Chinese. We hope that through the eyes of Mike and 小明, our favorite high school students, you all are getting a good foundation in basic Chinese, and having fun in the process.

Now last time we heard a good recap*1 of Mike and 小明’s day at school, they certainly seemed to be happy that was finally over. So what does the rest of their day have in store*2 for them? Well, let’s check in with them, and find out.

小明:爸、妈我们回来啦! 家长通知。给您。
爸爸:明天? 哎呦,明天下午我要参加一个非常重要的会议。
妈妈:你又有事儿! 每次开家长会你都有重要会议。
小明:哎呀,妈! 爸爸让您去,您就去吧。而且,妈,我想让您去。
妈妈:你想让我去? 是不是又犯错误啦?

妈妈:喂,是张经理吧? 您好,我是李红。我明天下午想请一会儿假。我要去学校给孩子开家长会。嗯,好的好的。家长会一结束我就回公司。噢,那太不好意思了! 好好,谢谢您,再见。

小明’s parents certainly had a lot to say today. There is quite a bit of a new vocabulary in today’s clip, but I bet you could tell that there was an argument of sorts taking place. So what was it about? Let’s break it down a bit, and find out exactly what’s going on.

明天下午两点召开家长会. Parent-teacher conferences are being held at two tomorrow afternoon. 召开 means to hold as in to hold talks or to hold a meeting. 家长会 is the proper term for a parent-teacher conference. So 明天下午两点召开家长会 is tomorrow afternoon at two parent-teacher conferences are being held.


哎, 老王. 明天下午学校有家长会. 你去吧? It’s clear for me use of 吧 in this sentence, that 小明’s mom wants her husband to go. Now what I want to point out here is how 小明’s mom addresses her husband. She says 老王. 老 on its own means old. So she’s saying old Wang.

Now that might sound a little bit funny to all of you. You sense why does a wife call her husband old Wang, right? But in China it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to someone like this. “Old” functions really kind of like a title and it’s one of respect. But only with people you know well and they have to be older than you. Some kids actually call their fathers 老爸 old dad. It’s a term of endearment*3 really. Pretty cool, huh?

爸爸:明天? 哎呦,明天下午我要参加一个非常重要的会议。
妈妈:你又有事儿! 每次开家长会你都有重要会议。
小明:哎呀,妈! 爸爸让您去,您就去吧。而且,妈,我想让您去。
妈妈:你想让我去? 是不是又犯错误啦?

我明天下午想请一会儿假. 请假 means to ask for a leave of absence or to ask for some time off. Remember 一会儿 denotes a short while. So 我明天下午想请一会儿假 means I’d like to ask for some time off tomorrow afternoon.

我要去学校给孩子开家长会. 开 is a verb and in this context it means to hold. 开会 to have or hold a meeting. 开家长会 to have or to hold a parent-teacher conference. So, 我要去学校给孩子开家长会 means I have to go to school for my child’s parent-teacher conference.

妈妈:喂,是张经理吧? 您好,我是李红。我明天下午想请一会儿假我要去学校给孩子开家长会。嗯,好的好的。家长会一结束我就回公司

All right, that just about wraps up today’s general overview of the dialogue. Now it’s time to get into some specifics.

First up let’s take a look at today’s vocabulary list, it’s not too long so don’t worry.

  • 召开 hold, convene*4, zhào kāi
  • 重要 important. zhòng yào
  • 家长会 parent teacher conference. jiā zhǎng huì
  • 工作 work, job, career. gōng zuò
  • 错误 mistake, error, wrong doing. cuò wù
  • 放心 set one’s mind at rest, rest a short, have confidence. fàng xīn
  • 办法 way, means, measure, approach. bàn fǎ

Our radical for the day is a very common one. It’s the roof radical 宝盖头. And we see it in the character for house or family 家. So, let’s take a look at this character... All right. So that’s our character 家. Now make sense that house or family would have a roof radical, doesn’t it.

OK, so our radical is the 宝盖头 that’s the roof radical. And this component down here actually, is a character and it’s also a radical. It’s the literary*5 term for pig. Although these days people who use it very much are when they aren’t for the pigs, pigs are now called 猪. But in any case, we’ve got a pig under a roof. Now historically, domesticated pigs were free to come in and out of many part of a farmer’s house. So the composition of this character gives it a lot of its meaning.


Today we’ve seen the word 假 used in the context of 请假 to ask for a leave of absence. But 假 on its own can mean holiday. And so we thought it might be fun to spotlight small traditional Chinese holidays. As there are many we have yet to cover, and many legends associated with them that we haven’t really had the chance to talk about. And to start with, will go with my favorite, Spring Festival or Chinese New Year.

In Chinese, 过年 means to pass the new year. 年 we know is the general word for year. But in fact, has another meaning. It’s a scary, horned, demon like animal. I’m serious.

Now according to Chinese legend, every year Chinese New Year, the 年 would come out of hiding*6 and wreak*7 havoc in villages. Eating people’s livestock and anyone unfortunate enough to be outside. So what to do?

After consulting in many wise sages, people discovered that the 年 was afraid of the color red, loud noises and bright flashes of light. Can you see the light going like this, indeed.

It is said that this is where the tradition of setting off fireworks and firecrackers, and wearing red comes from. All these elements would frighten the 年 in away, leaving everyone in peace. So the term 过年, which is now used to refer to celebrating the holiday of Spring Festival, actually grew out of*8 passing the night safely where the demon 年 would otherwise cause chaos. Pretty cool, huh.


Today we are introducing a language concept that we don’t really have in English. But you find it quite frequently in Chinese.

请假. To ask for a leave or absence. This is a good example of this concept. 请假 is a verb object separable word. Now basically with this means is that this word can be separated.

And when it is we see a verb and an object 请 can stand on its own right? It means to ask a verb. And 假 can stand on its own, too. It means holiday, vacation or a leave of absence of an object. Now when they’re combined, you get the word to ask for a leave of absence 请假.

  • 小明今天怎么没来?/他今天请假了。
  • 小明今天没来,他又请假了吗?/对,他请了两天假

Here is one that’s not so hard, 要. 要 is the verb want. 要 can also function as a helping verb meaning need, should or will. Now we see it as a helping verb in today’s context with 我要去学校. I need to go to school. 要去 need to go. Let’s look at some more examples.

  • Mike,走,出去玩儿。/不行,我给我妈妈打电话。
  • 兰兰,你这是去哪儿?/哦,我去趟图书馆。

Now here is a pattern that’s very useful to know: 一 something 就 something. This is the pattern that implies that as soon as the first action or situation is over, another action or situation will take place. So 家长会一结束我就回公司. As soon as the parent-teacher conference is over, I will come back to the company. Here’s some more examples.

  • Mike,小明呢?/他接到兰兰的电话出去了。
  • 这个小孩子为什么见你笑?/我也不知道。

OK everyone now just about wraps up today’s show. We covered a lot of ground in fifteen minutes and now it’s time to let everything settle.

Now please do not forget to send us any questions or comments you might have. 我想知道你们在想什么. I want to know what you all are thinking. Good luck with your studies, Chinese studies included. 加油大家, see you all next time. 再见.


*1:recap/recapitulate 要約

*2:have in store 待ち構える

*3:endearment 思慕

*4:convene 開催する

*5:literary 文語調の

*6:come out of hiding 姿を現す

*7:wreak もたらす

*8:grow out of 脱却する