Feature: Chinese language gaining popularity in Ghanaian elementary schools

Source:xinhua 2024-06-07

Mondays are special days in many schools as they mark the beginning of a new week, and teachers take the opportunity to lay the foundation for their weekly academic work.

The situation was not different at the Happy Heart Montessori School at Dome Pillar 2, a suburb of the Ghanaian capital of Accra. Pupils were in their various classes, taking instructions from their teachers, or writing tests.

In one classroom, however, Alvin Quartey, one of the pupils, was leading the class to read out Chinese language words written on the board. Under the supervision of the school administrator, Doreenda Nikoi Kotei, the pupils took turns introducing themselves in the Chinese language and translating some Chinese words into English.

In another class, Irene Dordunoo, the Chinese language teacher, was busy leading her class to build their Chinese vocabulary by reading out the transliterated words written on the board.

With excitement, the pupils crowned their day's lesson with rhymes in Chinese. Young and inexperienced as they may be, these juveniles understand the necessity of learning the languages and cultures of other people groups around the world, and that has been their biggest motivation in learning Chinese.

"I find the Chinese language interesting, and it is important to learn different languages because it helps to communicate when one meets people of different languages and cultures," said Alvin Quartey, who started learning Chinese in the first grade. "It will help me in the future because if I go to a different country and there are some people who speak Chinese, it would be easy for me to interact with them because I know their culture and their language."

He thanked the school for introducing Chinese as part of the school's curriculum and for allowing them to practice their Chinese dances and other cultural activities.

Briana Arthur, another pupil, said she found Chinese interesting, especially due to the way their teachers teach them with activities and gestures, making their classes interactive and exciting. She says combining the Chinese language with their music and dances spices up her love for the language.

"It is an amazing experience, and the teachers are good at teaching us Chinese. Chinese makes me busy with a lot of programs, including music and dance. I dance well, and it's fun, so my parents encourage me to keep working hard so I can get more awards," she said.

Another pupil, Adelyn Mensah, said Chinese is not too difficult, so she would like to continue with the language at a high educational level.

When the management of the Happy Heart Montessori School decided seven years ago to introduce an Asian language in the school in addition to French and English, Chinese was the popular choice due to the growing influence of China in the world.

Knowing another language enables you to communicate and function well wherever you find yourself, said Doreenda Nikoi Kotei, the school's administrator.

"The inspiration is that, before the children get to the high and tertiary level, they'll be able to grasp the basics of Chinese language and culture. They have been doing very well so far. They demonstrate so much passion when speaking and performing activities in Chinese," Nikoi Kotei added.

She lauded the Confucius Institute at the University of Ghana for its immense support by providing the school with teachers every year, noting that Chinese has become one major boost for school enrolment because parents want their children to benefit from Chinese learning.

"We hope our pupils will have the opportunity to visit China one day, and that will give them exposure. Visiting China will be a great honor for the candidates that are selected, and it will boost their ability to speak the language better than they do now," the administrator said.

She urged the Ghana Education Service to consider incorporating Chinese into the school curriculum so children can learn the language from an early age while urging that exchange programs be arranged for school managers from Ghana to visit China to exchange ideas with their Chinese counterparts in modern school management methods and strategies.

Irene Dordunoo, a graduate of the University of Ghana, currently teaches Chinese at Happy Heart Montessori School, and she is impressed by the level of understanding the pupils have in the language. "I have not been here for that long, but I have seen that the children are doing well. Their interest in the language keeps going higher and higher," Dordunoo said, noting that the school's participation in programs at the Confucius Institute is another great motivation for the pupils' learning of Chinese.

Generally, the interest in learning Chinese has been growing steadily among young Ghanaians because they are beginning to see the benefits it brings in the present and future, according to her.

"The evidence is clear, there are many Chinese investors establishing businesses here in Ghana, which benefits the country. They do not only look for Chinese people to work with but employ many Ghanaians," she added.


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