Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises


Gateway to the West

In this city there is a river walk lined with buildings in the French, Russian, and English styles of architecture. There are banks and financial offices from all over the world. There is a world famous garden and futuristic skyscrapers. The name of this city may surprise you. All these features are in Shanghai, the largest and most international city in China.

Shanghai night view from the oriental pearl tower

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Facts about China

The full name of China is The People's Republic of China. China sits in East Asia with the Pacific Ocean along its eastern coast. It is the third largest country in the world with an area of 9.6 million square kilometers, about the size of Europe.

China has the largest population of any country. Almost 1.4 billion people live in China. The capital of China is Beijing. The official language of China is Mandarin. Although China has one of the oldest cultures in the world, the economy of China has kept pace with modern times. China is now the second most important economy in the world.

Office skyscraper, Shanghai, China

Say Hello to Shanghai

Shangai sits on the east coast of China on the Huangpu River. This river divides the city into two parts. While Shanghai began as a fishing town, it has grown into the richest city in China and a global financial center. People from many countries and cultures live in Shanghai. The city is known as "China's Gateway to the West" because of its international population.

Shanghai roads


One of its most famous tourist sites is the Bund, a walkway along the Huangpu River. From the Bund you can see buildings from China's colonial history as well as China's modern skyline.

Shanghai, China cityscape at the Bund

In the mid-1800s China opened Shanghai to people from other countries. Russians, Americans, and Europeans built banks and homes along the Huangpu River in the style of their home countries. Tourists can walk along the Bund and see these western style buildings today. Two of the most famous buildings along the Bund, the Peace Tower and The Bank of China, are lit by lavender lights as the sun sets.

Across the river from the older buildings of the Bund rise unique skyscrapers which form the modern skyline of Shanghai. Here tourists can see The Oriental Pearl TV and Radio Tower. This building is a working TV and radio tower, but the fun design and things to do inside the tower make it a popular tourist site. The huge tower rests on a tripod. As the tower goes up, it spreads out into three large spheres. The spheres look like balls on a stick. Visitors can go up to the top of the tower in an elevator. Then they can go back down and do other activities like visit a museum or explore a model of a futuristic city inside the spheres.

Shangahi skyline, China

Tourists can visit another world class skyscraper, the Shanghai World Financial Center. This building is the second tallest skyscraper in China. The main purpose of this building is to provide offices and meeting rooms for the international banking community. However, tourists are welcome. An elevator takes visitors to the top. People can see spectacular views of the Bund and the Huangpu River. Brave tourists can go on the Skywalk, a hallway with a glass floor and glass walls. On the Skywalk visitors feel like they are walking through the clouds!

For a look at classical Chinese buildings and gardens, visitors go to the Yuyuan Garden. The garden was built during the Ming Dynasty over 400 years ago. A government official wanted to give his parents a quiet, beautiful garden to enjoy. Today visitors can walk along garden paths and see old trees and flowering plants guarding pavilions from hundreds of years ago.

They can walk across garden bridges and look down into the quiet ponds. People can even go to the top of a 50 foot tall arrangement of rocks. From the top they can see the whole garden. Exquisite Jade Rock is the most popular sight in the garden. The rock is about 10 feet high and has 72 holes. Tourists love to watch when water is poured over the top of the rock, it flows out all 72 holes.

Shanghai, China view at the traditional Yuyuan Garden

Things to Do

The best shopping in China is on Nanjing Road. This shopping area starts at one end of the Bund and goes for about four miles. Specialty shops and large malls line both sides of Nanjing Road. Better stores like Tiffany and Mont Blanc sit side by side with McDonalds and Pizza Hut. Yet you can still find traditional Chinese goods like silk and jade products. A train takes tourists up and down this lively road. In the evening visitors can hear the music playing in the open air restaurants and see the stores glowing with lights.

To get a more dramatic view of the old and the new buildings of Shanghai, tourists can take a cruise down the Huangpu River. The trip takes about 50 minutes. From one side of the boat visitors can see the Bund lined with colonial style buildings. On the other side is the exciting skyline of modern Shanghai. A night time cruise adds the beauty of colored lights washing over the buildings.

Shanghai, China downtown city skyline

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "skyline" mean?
    1. a line of clouds in the sky
    2. a line of smoke in the sky
    3. an outline of buildings against the sky

  2. What does "traditional" mean?
    1. made in the old way
    2. made in the new way
    3. made in an expensive way

  3. What does "official" mean?
    1. someone who is important
    2. someone who is famous
    3. someone who is kind

  4. What does "classical" mean?
    1. a style from long ago
    2. a style from modern times
    3. a style from the future

  5. What does "pavilion" mean?
    1. a small house for bankers
    2. a small restaurant in a park
    3. a small building usually partly open to the air

Wh Questions

  1. How can tourists see the old and new buildings of Shanghai?
    1. cruise the Huangpu River
    2. enter the pavilion of Yuyuan Garden
    3. tour the futuristic city inside The Oriental Pearl Tower

  2. Why did a government official make the Yuyuan Garden?
    1. for his wife
    2. for his parents
    3. for his children

  3. When did China let people from other countries enter Shanghai?
    1. the mid 1800s
    2. the mid 1900s
    3. during the Ming Dynasty

  4. What is the Exquisite Jade Rock?
    1. a beautiful piece of jade along the Huangpu River
    2. an arrangement of rocks in Yuyuan Garden
    3. a popular tall rock with 72 holes in Yuyuan Garden

  5. What famous attraction looks like balls on a stick?
    1. The Shanghai World Financial Center
    2. The Oriental Pearl TV and Radio Tower
    3. The Bund

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Shanghai is the largest city in China.
    2. Shanghai is the capital of China.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. Shanghai is called the "The Gateway to the West" because of its great shopping area
    2. There are pavilions and bridges in the style of the Ming Dynasty in Yuyuan Garden

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "The modern area of Shanghai is across the river from the Bund."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Both traditional and modern stores line the shopping area of Nanjing Road."
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. C | 2. A | 3. A | 4. A | 5. C | 6. A | 7. B | 8. A | 9. C | 10. B | 11. A | 12. A | 13. A | 14. A

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