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Young teacher committed to introducing Chinese language in Botswana

China Daily | Updated: 2022-03-26 08:51

GABORONE-Excitement and joy could be felt as students at Legae English Medium School in Gaborone, Botswana, greeted their teacher Goitseone Ishmael with the Chinese phrase nihao, which literally translates to "hello" in English, before she began her Chinese language lesson.

"Today we are going to begin our class by watching a Chinese movie," she says, and the students jump up and down with joy. Some of the students ask if it's about the well-known actor Jackie Chan. Finally, she manages to get them to settle down.

Ishmael, also known as Liu Weiwei in Chinese, started her job as a Chinese assistant teacher at Legae English Medium School in 2022. Now she teaches around 350 students in 14 classes per week from Standard 3 to Standard 6.

After graduating from university with an associate degree in business information systems, Ishmael was encouraged by her sister to enroll in the Confucius Institute at the University of Botswana (CIUB) in 2017.

"During my study at CIUB, I developed a strong interest in the Chinese language, culture and lifestyle, especially in August 2018 I set my foot for the first time in China through the Summer Camp by CIUB," she told Xinhua during an interview.

Ishmael went to study at Shanghai Normal University in China in 2019. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, she couldn't go back to China to finish the last semester and ended up finishing it online and graduating while in Botswana.

As a Chinese assistant teacher, Ishmael has her main teaching work done like teaching students Chinese songs, teaching them how to make paper cutting or lanterns. She also helps Zhang Lu, the only Chinese teacher who comes from the CIUB, to teach the Chinese language.

"Teaching a language is really interesting and kids are always interested in learning more, especially about the Chinese culture, the food and they even ask a lot of questions during my lesson like what the thing they like is called in Chinese," she says, adding that most of the students have wanted to visit China since she started teaching them.

According to Ishmael, people in Batswana can benefit a lot from learning the Chinese language. She says, in China, everything is convenient like transportation and payment methods, so they can learn and see how they can improve services here. People there can also go teach English in China because of the demand for English teachers.

The 33-year-old teacher encouraged people to consider a career in the Chinese language. "It is not only for communication, it will open another opportunity for them. There are different types of jobs that one can do after learning Chinese like working as a Chinese language teacher, a translator or interpreter," she says.

Basel Ncaagae, head of Legae English Medium School, says Chinese was introduced full-time in 2018 after management expressed a desire to move away from the Chinese club, given that the club was not reaching out to many students. And as a result of the large number of students who expressed an interest in learning Chinese, the school implemented a full-time Chinese language study program called Confucius Classes.

Some of the content the class teaches the children is greeting in Chinese, counting numbers in Chinese, introducing themselves in Chinese, their age, talking about the weather and time. Kids also participate in the Primary School Chinese Bridge where the winner gets an opportunity to travel to China and represent the school. There are competitions like talent shows where students can also take part in.


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