Spotlight on Strategies

The Tale of Two Languages


Chinese language is an ancient language that has often aroused much curiosity and fascination. Because of China’s large population and because in recent years China has become a major exporter and has the potential to become a major importer, knowing and learning Chinese language has become an important subject. At the same time, the interest in Japanese anime and Manga has also stirred up a lot of curiosity about the Japanese language. Although at a quick glance Chinese and Japanese look similar as foreign languages, there are actually many differences between the two languages. From the research students will discover the history of the written languages, the various stages and styles as the languages evolved from the beginning to the present time. The different sources such as History of Chinese Characters, History of Japanese Language, History of Chinese Language will provide students information to compare and contrast the two languages.
History of Chinese characters (introduced in english)


1. Students will be divided into various groups to explore the different topics of the project.

2. Each group will have to present their research and sources with power point or prezi.

3. Each group has to choose one of the following topics:

  • The history of the Chinese written language
  • The various styles of the Chinese written language
  • The history of the Japanese written language
  • The various styles of the Japanese written language

4. After the group presentations, students will gather the information they have learned from other groups, go back to their own group and make some comparisons and contrasts of the two languages.

5. Each group has to present and give examples of the characteristics of the two languages. Some suggestions for their group presentation are: making a poster, power point presentation, demonstration of the writing of both languages.


Recently Both China and Japan have appeared rather frequently in the global news. Chinese language and Japanese language have become increasingly popular in media, news, business, and economics. Currently both languages are considered lesser-taught languages in our education system. (A lesser taught language means that out of the students in the United States who study a foreign language less than 9% of the students choose to study this language). This project can be viewed as an introduction to the Chinese and/or Japanese language and culture, or part of the language experience for the social studies when they study about East Asia.


National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages. (2014). Retrieve from


History of Chinese Characters. Chinamint 1993. Retrieve from