29 September 2017 | Youth
For him, Chinese is more than “just” a language spoken by about 1.4 billion people in Asia, it is a diverse culture that has played an active role on the world stage. In addition to that Namibia has strong trade agreements with China, and the need for people who are bilingual in Chinese and English is increasing, not only here but worldwide.
“I thought it would be cool and I wanted to learn Chinese,” says Lisa Machleidt from Grade 9. “In the beginning we learnt how to introduce ourselves, like: ‘what is your name’, ‘nice to meet you’ and ‘good bye’. We also learnt how to count. We also write tests, so you have to set aside some time to study at home.”
Ni Hao is the Chinese greeting for ‘hello’. Literally translated it means ‘you good’. But before the learners are able to actually speak the language it is important to establish a linguistic basis, to learn the Chinese signs and their structure as well as the correct pronunciation – and pronouncing the words can be a bit tricky. Tonal precision is very important if one says “horse” (mǎ) but actually means "mother"(mā).
However, lessons do not only consist of difficult tests and dry phonics training. Thematically, the course concentrates on the learners´ own areas of interest, their hobbies and teenage life, e.g. they were exposed to a variety of teaching methods including watching Chinese cartoon films on the computer. “It was interesting because the cartoons are quite different than what we are used to. I liked that,” says Kayla Poonja, a Grade 7 learner.
“I definitely see the benefit in learning Chinese. Most of the world’s population is Asian. Many of them are from high production countries which are quite successful. So it is a huge benefit to know Chinese,” so Kayla.
Mr Risser does his best to never offer a dull lesson and invited a calligraphy teacher to the Chinese class. “We had some visitors come to our school and show us how to write the Chinese characters with different brushes and ink on funny rice paper. They also shared some interesting things about Chinese culture. That was cool,” agreed both Lisa and Kayla.
The DHPS teacher Mr Jan Risser, who joined the DHPS faculty in August last year, was more than willing to share his knowledge of the Chinese language and culture with the learners. He learnt to speak Chinese by attending an extra mural at his own school when he was in Grade 10. After school he decided to do a gap year in Beijing and ended up spending a total of 4 years in China, with intermittent travels to Germany to complete his studies.