New language course fosters links with China

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014
mandarin class
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ

LANGUAGE SKILLS: Chinese teacher Annie Ren teaches the first Mandarin class at Timaru Girls' High School.

annie ren
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
MANDARIN TEACHER: Annie Ren.

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Students across South Canterbury will be able to use the greeting "Nihao" after Mandarin classes started in Timaru this week.

The first Mandarin language class to be offered at high school level in South Canterbury took place at Timaru Girls' High School (TGHS).

As part of a Confucius Institute initiative, Chinese woman Annie Ren is teaching Chinese language classes in the region.

"We started the class off with an introduction of China and at the end of the class we covered greeting words and I taught them some songs," she said.

Ren conducted a quick quiz on which countries were the largest by land mass and population, and China's capital city.

"It went well," she said.

TGHS principal Sarah Davis said 29 students from TGHS, Craighead Diocesan and Timaru Boys' High School took part in the class.

"Plus two slow-learner principals who knew the geography answers but not so much the language."

She said as a number of the students were of Asian descent and had a good base for the language already, the class had been divided into advanced and learner.

TBHS student George Hill, 14, said he had taken French previously and done well but was not enjoying it any more.

"Mandarin will also be a good language to know if I conduct business in Hong Kong or Shanghai later," he said.

Three sisters from the Goodsir family had taken the class.

Although they were fluent in Mandarin, as it was one of the first languages they had spoken, they were not able to read and write in it.

Eldest sister Kimberley, 18, said she had left Malaysia at age eight but enjoyed going back.

"We want to be able to learn for when we go back to Malaysia so we can fully interact with our family and friends," Kimberley said.

Ren will also teach at Bluestone Primary School and Timaru Christian School.

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- The Timaru Herald

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