Unit 1 Overview: Families in Different Societies

7 min readjanuary 3, 2023



AP Chinese  🇨🇳

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Welcome to the AP Chinese Unit 1 Overview: Families in Different Societies. In this unit, we will be exploring the concept of families and their roles in various societies around the world. From the traditional nuclear family structure to the changing dynamics of modern families, we will examine the cultural and societal influences that shape how families function and how they are perceived.
We will also delve into the ways in which language and communication play a role in defining and understanding familial relationships. Whether you are a student preparing for the AP Chinese exam or simply curious about the diverse ways in which families are structured and valued across cultures, this overview will provide a comprehensive look at the complexities and nuances of family life in different societies.

Unit 1 Essential Questions

STUDY TIP: Use the following essential questions to guide your review of this entire unit. Keep in mind, these are not meant to be practice essay questions. Each question was written to help you summarize the key concept.
AP Chinese Unit 1 is all about exploring the idea of family in communities that speak Chinese. Other themes discussed are identities, life in the current world, and global challenges.
As you work through this unit, think about these questions:
  1. How do families influence values, beliefs, and traditions in Chinese communities? (在华人社区,家庭是怎么影响到价值观,信仰和传统?)
  2. What does a typical Chinese family look like? (一个普通的中国家庭是什么样子?)
  3. What are some challenges that families face? (家庭要面对哪些挑战?)

Past Free-Response Questions from Unit 1: Families in Different Societies

Note: Many free-response questions draw from information and vocabulary from multiple units and don’t fit neatly into one unit only. You will likely see them in other unit overviews as well.

Presentational Writing: Story Narration

Interpersonal Writing: Email Response

Interpersonal Speaking: Conversation

Presentational Speaking: Cultural Presentation


1.1 Families and Communities in China

  • The Chinese family is a central part of Chinese culture and plays a significant role in people's lives.
  • The Chinese family is typically a nuclear family, with the husband, wife, and children living together.
  • There are specific terms used to refer to different family members, including immediate family (e.g. mother 妈妈, father 爸爸, siblings 兄弟姐妹) and extended family (e.g. grandparents 外公外婆 (maternal)/爷爷奶奶 (paternal)).
  • Traditional gender roles often apply in the Chinese family, with the husband as the breadwinner and the wife responsible for household duties. However, these roles are changing in modern times.
  • The extended family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, also plays a significant role in Chinese family culture, providing support, guidance, and assistance in times of need
  • Filial piety, or the respect and duty towards one's parents and ancestors, is an important value in Chinese society and is demonstrated through obedience, care, and support for one's parents and elders
  • The importance of respecting authority, including parents and elders, is also emphasized in Chinese culture.
  • Family planning policies, such as the one-child policy, have had a significant impact on Chinese families.
  • Adoption is not as common in China as in other countries, but it does exist.
  • The concept of "face" is important in Chinese culture and can affect family relationships.

1.2 Personal and Public Identities in China 

  • National and ethnic identity in China is complex and diverse, with the Han Chinese being the largest ethnic group but many others also present (including Tibetan, Uighur, and Mongolian groups)
  • Ethnic identity in China is often tied to specific regions within the country, and different ethnic groups have their own unique cultural and linguistic traditions
  • Many Chinese people identify with both their national identity as Chinese and their ethnic identity
  • The Chinese government has historically pursued a policy of assimilation, encouraging the use of the Mandarin language and the assimilation of ethnic minorities into mainstream Han Chinese culture, but there have been conflicts and tensions between different ethnic groups
  • Chinese heroes and national figures are individuals who are widely respected and admired in China for their contributions or exceptional achievements. Examples include Confucius, Sun Yat-sen, and Mao Zedong.
  • Chinese heroes and national figures are often revered and celebrated in China, and their contributions and achievements are an important part of Chinese national and cultural identity.
  • Chinese festivals and holidays are an important part of Chinese culture and are often tied to specific traditions and customs. Examples include the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Qingming Festival.
  • The Chinese language is an important aspect of Chinese culture and identity, and there are many different dialects spoken in China. Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken dialect and is the official language of the country.
  • Chinese names have specific conventions, including the use of a family name followed by a given name. Chinese characters are used to write names, and each character has a specific meaning.
  • The Chinese language has a rich literary tradition, and many classic works of literature are still widely read and studied in China today. These works include the Four Great Classical Novels and the works of famous poets like Li Bai and Du Fu.

1.3 Contemporary Life in China: Transportation and Tourism

  • China has a wide range of transportation options including trains, buses, metro systems, taxis, bicycles, private cars, and airplanes
  • Many cities in China have developed metro systems, which are a fast and efficient way to get around
  • Bicycles, taxis, and ride-hailing services are also popular modes of transportation in China
  • Air travel is a convenient and efficient way to travel between cities and regions in China. There are many domestic and international airports in the country.
  • China has a vast network of trains, including high-speed and conventional options
  • Buses are a popular and inexpensive way to travel within cities and between towns and cities
  • Taxis can be hailed on the street or booked through a ride-hailing app
  • Bicycles are popular in smaller cities and towns
  • Private car ownership is becoming more common in China and there are car rental companies and ride-hailing services available
  • Tourism is a significant industry in China, with many popular destinations including the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and Yuyuan Garden
  • China has a variety of tourist accommodations including hotels, hostels, and guesthouses
  • Tourist attractions in China often have entrance fees and may require advance tickets or reservations
  • Traveling in China can be a unique and rewarding experience, but it is important to be aware of cultural differences and local customs.
  • Tips for traveling in China: carry cash, bring your passport, be prepared for crowds and long lines, be aware of scams
  • Recommended travel apps for China: Pleco, WeChat, Trip.com, Alipay, China Highlights, TravelChinaGuide
  • Additional travel resources for China: China National Tourist Office, China Travel Service, China International Travel Service

1.4 Global Challenges Facing China

  • China is facing a number of global challenges, including economic, environmental, political, demographic, and international issues
  • Economic challenges include maintaining economic growth, addressing income inequality, and addressing environmental degradation caused by economic growth
  • Environmental challenges include air and water pollution, deforestation, and climate change
  • Political challenges include maintaining stability and ensuring the continuation of the Chinese Communist Party's rule
  • Demographic challenges include providing healthcare and social services to an increasing number of elderly citizens
  • International challenges include relations with other countries, particularly the US, and addressing issues such as territorial disputes and human rights violations.
  • The Chinese government is taking steps to address these challenges, including developing renewable energy, implementing stricter environmental regulations, and promoting conservation and reforestation efforts.

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