Dear Chinese Lovers!
Learning a foreign language is not simply memorizing new vocabulary and grammar rules, but more about learning the cultural background behind the language. After all, the ultimate goal of learning a language is to communicate. Knowing the cultural background of the language will tremendously help you to hold a conversation with native speakers, no doubt!
So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be starting a series on the most popular Chinese dramas from the ‘90s! These bring up fond childhood memories. Every summer I would see them being re-aired on television and immediately I knew summer break had begun.
We will kick off the drama series with “Journey to the West,” based off one of the most popular ancient novels. This novel is a reading requirement for Chinese middle school students. I briefly summarized the plot and introduced the main characters below. I tried to adjust the difficulty level of the article to intermediate level Chinese, but still, some of the vocabulary could be challenging! Don’t worry too much about learning each new word but instead try to memorize the ones that reappear multiple times. Generally it’s more important to try to understand what the story is about. An added bonus: native Chinese people will be super impressed when you talk about this story!
Journey to the West
Journey to the West is one of the most popular ancient novels of China.
The story is about a monk named Tang Sanzang, with the help of three desciples
Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing overcame a multitude of difficulties
in reaching the Western Region (today’s India) and coming back with the Buddhist scriptures.
Tang Sanzang: a monk who lived in Tang dynasty.
He promised the emperor of Tang dynasty he would go to the Western Region and come back with the Buddhist scriptures.
But as soon as he departed, he found many demons waiting to eat him.
the demons believed eating the flesh of Tang Sanzang would give them immortality.
Luckily, Tang Sanzang met three very capable disciples – Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Seng.
With the help of the disciples, Tang Sanzang successfully reached the Western Region and took back the Buddhist scriptures.
Sun Wukong: a monkey born from a stone, very capable.
But he sinned in heaven, so he was caught by Buddha and trapped under a mountain for 500 years.
Later, Tang Sanzang rescued him while passing by, and he became Tang Sanzang’s apprentice.
From then on, Sun Wukong protected Tang Sanzang on the way to Western Region from being eaten by demons.
Zhu Bajie: Pig head with human body, banished to the mortal realm because of his mistake made in heaven.
Later on, he met Tang Sanzang, and became his apprentice.
His appetite for food and women caused a lot of trouble on the way.
But he still protected Tang Sanzang on their journey to the Western Region together with Sun Wukong and Sha Seng.
Sha Seng: banished to the mortal realm because of his mistake made inheaven.
Later, he met Tang Sanzang and became his apprentice.
Together with Sun Wukong and Zhu Bajie, he protected his master Tang Sanzangon the way to the Western Region.
He is loyal, diligent, kindhearted and a great helper of Sun Wukong and Zhu Bajie.
If you have trouble understanding the article or just want to chat about it, come join our free event on 5/23. Native Chinese speakers will also join in to share further commentary on the drama and to answer any questions!
Click the link below and reserve the event.