Mandarin not Greek for Worcester learners

About 200 grade eight learners from Worcester Gymnasium enrolled for Mandarin this year writes Anika Marais in Die Burgernewspaper on 18 November 2015.  With the support of the Confucius Institute at Stellenbosch University Worcester Gymnasium appointed Prof Wang Peiwei as a teacher. Placed by Stellenbosch University at Worcester Gymnasium his salary is paid by the Confucius Institute headquarters in China.

Read her story below (translated from Afrikaans). The original text in Afrikaans follows.

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Mandarin not Greek for Gimmies Gr. 8s

If a student celebrate their birthday at the school, it takes almost an "entire period" to congratulate him/her.

"We sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Mandarin!" Charl Schoeman, head of Worcester Gymnasium, laughs out loud. "Then we also sing Spur's birthday song."

About 200 grade eight learners from the high school enrolled for Mandarin this year.Schoeman made Mandarin part of his school curriculum long before the basic education department announced that the language will be officially be part of the curriculum from 2016.The subject will not be compulsory. Learners can take it as an additional subject and governing bodies will pay the teachers' salaries.

Assisted by the Confucius Institute at Stellenbosch University (CISU), Worcester Gymnasium appointed Prof Wang Peiwei as a teacher. Placed by Stellenbosch University at Worcester Gymnasium his salary is paid by the Confucius Institute headquarters in China.

"The students don’t call me professor. They addressed me as Frank,” Peiwei said.Now, at the end of the year, the learners in his class can have a basic conversation in Mandarin, also writing in Chinese characters.  Yesterday they wrote their Mandarin end of the year paper, but the subject does not count towards their average mark.

"I decided to expose learners at my school to differentiate them from other learners," Schoeman explains. "If you write on your resume that you understand Mandarin and speak it, you stand out. Also, many of our learners’ parents own wine farms and are exporting to China. "

Peiwei says one or two words of Mandarin at the beginning of a conversation with a Chinese businessperson will make the deal easier. "South Africa and China's trade agreements are very strong and if South Africans understand a little Mandarin, the better."

Peiwei will soon return to China and Confucius Institute will deploy another teacher from China to teach the next group of Worcester learners.

 

Mandaryns glad nie Grieks vir Gimmies se gr.8’s

 As ’n leerder by dié skool verjaar, neem dit bykans ’n “hele periode” om hom geluk te wens.

“Ons sing “Happy Birthday” in Afrikaans, Engels, Xhosa en Mandaryns!” Charl Schoeman, hoof van Worcester Gimnasium, lag uit sy maag. “Dan sing ons boonop nog Spur se verjaardagliedjie óók.”

Bykans 200 gr. 8-leerders van dié hoërskool het vanjaar Mandaryns as vak geneem. Schoeman het Mandaryns deel van sy skool se kurrikulum gemaak nog voor die departement van basiese onderwys vroeër vanjaar aangekondig het dat dié taal van 2016 af amptelik deel van die kurrikulum gaan wees.

Die vak sal egter nie landwyd verpligtend wees nie. Leerders kan dit as ’n addisionele vak neem en beheerliggame sal self dié onderwysers se salarisse moet betaal.

Dit was vir Worcester Gimnasium slegs moontlik om prof. Wang Peiwei as onderwyser aan te stel met behulp van die Universiteit Stellenbosch (US) se Confucius-instituut.Sy salaris word deur die hoofkantoor van die Confucius-instituut in China betaal en hy is deur die US by Worcester Gimnasium geplaas.

“Die leerders noem my darem nie professor nie. Hulle praat sommer van Frank,” het Peiwei gesê.Nou, aan die einde van die jaar, kan die leerders in sy klas ’n elementêre gesprek in Mandaryns voer en boonop in Chinese karakters skryf. Die klas het gister almal hul Mandarynse eindeksamenvrae­stel geskryf, maar die vak tel nie vir hul gemiddelde punt nie.

“Ek het besluit om die leerders in my skool hieraan bloot te stel om hulle van ander leerders te differensieer,” het Schoeman verduidelik.“As jy op jou CV skryf dat jy Mandaryns kan verstaan en praat, sal dit jou laat uitstaan. Boonop is hier baie leerders in die skool wie se ouers wynplase in die omgewing besit van waar hulle nou na China begin uitvoer het.”

Volgens Peiwei sal nét een of twee woorde in Mandaryns aan die begin van ’n gesprek met ’n Chinese sakeman die transaksie soveel makliker maak, volgens Peiwei.“Suid-Afrika en China se handelsooreenkomste is baie sterk en hoe meer Suid-Afrikaners ’n klein bietjie Mandaryns verstaan, hoe beter.”

Peiwei keer binnekort terug na China, waarna die Confu­cius-instituut ’n ander onderwyser uit China na Worcester gaan stuur om die volgende groep leerders te onderrig.