Pupils get to grips with Mandarin

19 Sep 2016 - 10:30

Outside everything looks as expected. False Bay looking out from Simon’s Town as beautiful as ever. But inside the Simon’s Town classroom there is a complete shift in perspective as pupils get ready for their Mandarin lesson.

Simon’s Town School has started offering Mandarin as an elective subject after South Africa and China signed bilateral agreements to strengthen business ties and co-operate on educational matters.

Quiet and neatly dressed, Huaying Wu is a Master’s student from Guangzhou in southern China. His field of study is teaching Mandarin as a second language so he is perfectly qualified to test out his expertise on the Simon’s Town School pupils.

“So far so good,” he said with a smile. “Simon’s Town School is developed and educated. The children are so quiet and eager to learn new things - it’s very impressive to me.”

Mr Wu teaches Grade 2s to Grade 10s and changes his teaching according to the ages, their needs and their characters. The younger children, he said, like to learn in a more active way; the older ones like to sit down and learn. With the maritime students, he concentrates more on conversational Mandarin on the assumption their career will bring them in contact with Chinese people in their field of expertise.

Besides teaching at Simon’s Town on Wednesdays and Fridays, he teaches at Hillcrest Primary in Mowbray as well as teaching adults whose professions range widely, from preschool teachers to officials to fashion designers.

He is part of the Confucius Institute at the UCT, which supplies the books and materials, and also lives on campus. Mr Wu is here for one year as a volunteer.

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