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Promoting Chinese in South Africa: the 12th Language?

The first Chinese course in the curriculum at Westerford High started on 20 January, Monday, 17 students from Grade 8 become the first group of students taking Chinese as a third language at school.

Students are listening to the teacher and imitating the sounds attentively.

As the new year has arrived in the southern hemisphere, schools in South African all entered the 2014 school year from 15 January, after two months of happy summer time. It is also the right time for the Confucius Institute to promote Chinese. After intensive communication with schools and preparation on our side, and also as our volunteer teachers only arrived in late September last year and stayed here for Christmas, we are ready to go to schools now, and wish the number of students will have significant increase compared to last year.

As there are 11 official languages in South Africa, Chinese is often offered at schools where there is interest in learning Chinese as an additional foreign language.

Through our persistent efforts in promoting Chinese at school, mostly from word done by the Chinese director, there is significant growth in the Chinese courses we offer at some schools near UCT. At Westerford, where the Confucius Institute started to offer extra curriculum Chinese in 2010, a Chinese course as third language for Grade 8 students is offered from the new year, and 17 students signed up for the course. Mr. La Rue, the principle, gives emphasis to the course and came to see the students during the first class meet. He encouraged the students to learn the language well and be able to communicate by the end of the first year. All the students, except one who is from a South Korean family, are local people, they are very good at imitating the sounds, and pick up the Chinese pronunciation quickly and correctly. Ms Hu Peipei, a volunteer teacher from China, is in charge of the course, and she has prepared carefully for the first lecture.

Also, the history course at Westerford is organizing its 11 graders for a history tour to China in December this year, to visit some of the most famous sites and relics in the Chinese history and the scenic spots. This will push interest in learning Chinese among the students, and our extra curricula course is expecting to have more sign-ups as it starts next Monday, 27 January.

Last October, the Confucius Institute had offered a promotion at Clairmont High and attracted about 40 students. The extra curricula course for Clairmont High is also scheduled to start on next Wednesday, 29 January, with about 40 students from grade 8 to 12. It is expected to be divided into two groups for classes on Monday and Wednesday respectively. 

The Chinese course for primary school students at Golden Grove Primary is also scheduled to start next Wednesday, 29 January. As a result of our promotion last October, interest in learning Chinese is still high and kids are enthusiastic in anticipating the coming class, taught by our young volunteer, Ms Li Yang. 

Prof. Kalula, director of IAPO at UCT and incoming director of the institute, also pointed out that the institute should go to schools in areas with concentration of Afrikaans and Xhoxas, to enable more students in South Africa to know about and understand China, and learn Chinese.