What’s your sign? In Western astrology, it’s a constellation determined by when your birthday falls in the calendar. But according to the Chinese zodiac (生肖), it’s your shuxiang, meaning the animal assigned to your birth year. And of the many myths explaining these animal signs and their arrangement, the most enduring one is that of The Great Race. Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen recount this classic myth.








  • enduring – existing for a long time
  • kind-hearted – having or showing sympathy or kindness
  • to secure – to get something, sometimes with difficulty
  • to battle – to fight
  • the current – the swiftest part of a stream
  • nimbly – easily, lightly
  • to slither – to slide like a snake
  • startled – surprised, spooked
  • to sneak into – to enter a place quietly and in secret
  • to scramble – to move or climb quickly but with difficulty, often using your hands to help you
  • to frolic – to play or move in a lively, happy way
  • to waddle across – to walk with short steps swinging the front part of the body from side to side
  • to enshrine – to contain or keep something as if in a holy place, a place that is highly admired and respected
  • to place stock in – to have or invest faith or belief in something (often used in the negative)

Answer the following questions:

  • What`s the story of the Great Race?
  • Which animal secured first place in it?
  • Which animal got to the finish line last?
  • How often does the cycle start over?
  • What two overlapping systems is the Chinese calendar made up of?




Practice Makes Perfect

Fill in the gaps in the sentences below with the correct form of the words in bold.


frolic      scramble      endure     slither      waddle    

sneak        put stock      kind-hearted      startle      nimble

  1. Painting remained not only her first but an …………… love.
  2. The man grabbed for her hand, but she slipped ……….. out of reach.
  3. He`s such a ………….. man! He shoveled his elderly neighbor’s driveway after the blizzard.
  4. I could see dogs …………. in the park.
  5. A long snake was …………… toward us.
  6. She’s been wrong before, so I wouldn’t …….. much …….. in what she says.
  7. The animals were so ……… that they ran off in all directions.
  8. Choosing a key from a ring, the fat guard ………… toward his cell
  9. I waited until night and then ……… into the house.
  10. We finally …………. to the top of the mountain but were exhausted.



  ANSWERS: 1. enduring; 2. nimbly; 3. kind-hearted; 4. frolicking; 5. slithering; 6. put stock; 7. startled; 8. waddled; 9. sneaked; 10. scrambled


What`s your horoscope sign?

What kind of person is someone with your star sign?

Do you ever check your horoscope? Do you know anyone who does that?

What do you think about what is written in horoscopes?

Do you consider it strange that in the twenty-first century people get paid to write horoscopes?



Explore it more to create your own teaching-learning experience!


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