Chinese thrilled to have Mandarin in schools



Chinese people who reside in Bloemfontein have expressed their excitement over the implementation of Mandarin – a Chinese language – being officially offered as an optional subject in South African schools.

The initiative comes after basic education minister Angie Motshekga signed an implementation plan involving the ministry of education in China and the department of basic education in March last year.

According to Mandarin is the most-spoken language in the world, followed by English.

Woan-yi Lin, a first year law student at the UFS, says although it’s a great initiative, it comes with great challenges. "It’s very exciting because it allows learners to experience our culture. However, it will be very difficult to get the hang of speaking it," she said.
Another student of the university, Michelle Lee, whose home language is Taiwanese Mandarin, says the initiative will be beneficial for South Africa in more than one way. "This is a wonderful idea. There are more Asians coming over from various countries to start up business here. This will certainly benefit us in terms of communication," she said.

The PAN South African Language Board (PANSALB) has also welcomed the initiative. Nikiwe Mathebula, PANSALB’s chief language practitioner explained:"If government feels Mandarin should be used as a language of trade, it’s no harm. However, it shouldn’t be at the expense of resources that should be going towards the developing of African languages," she said.
The department of basic education said the project will be funded and supported by China.

"China will provide South Africa with ongoing support to ensure that the initiative is a success. We already have teachers in the country who teach Mandarin. China will also be providing assistance in terms of facilitators and the resources required," Elijah Mhlanga, spokesperson for basic education department, explained.

The school curriculum in South Africa will officially include the Chinese language of Mandarin from January 2016. Grade 4 to 12 learners will be able to study the Chinese language. They will also write examinations as they do with other subjects.