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Mandarin class breaks down barriers

People wanting to learn to speak Mandarin can now do so at the New Oriental Language School in East London, which opens its doors later this week.

The school, which offers a course for absolute beginners, had a public launch yesterday at Shanghai Restaurant in Beacon Bay.

The opening ceremony was attended by officials from the Chinese embassy and South African Police Services, who were there to mark the start of the second semester of the Eastern Cape SAPS Mandarin training course.

The principal of the school, Leqin Zhu, said the idea of opening a school to teach people how to communicate in Mandarin came to her about a year ago.

“After finding a venue, recruiting a lecturer and deciding on tutorial books, I can now say there is a decent Chinese language institution in East London,” said Zhu.

The chairman of the Eastern Cape Chinese community, Xiulin Lin, said many Chinese language enthusiasts and Chinese parents had been looking for a systematic language institution.

“Specialists, proper text books, helpful schoolmates and a rich learning ambience are what these Chinese enthusiast are eager for,” said Lin.

The director of consular affairs of the People’s Republic of China in Cape Town, Yong Zhang, said there was a rich Chinese history in the country and the Chinese community continued to grow in all cities.

“People have shown interest in the Chinese culture and language and this school will assist with fulfilling that interest,” said Zhang.

Last year, 20 Eastern Cape police officers had their first lesson in Mandarin as part of a programme to help serve the increasing number of Chinese nationals in the province.

Chinese embassy spokesman Wang Zhigang said the programme was already helping to combat and solve crime in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

Frere Hospital CEO Rolene Wagner, who was a speaker at the launch, called the opening of the school “momentous and exciting for our time”.

Wagner said she wanted to see a training course in Mandarin offered to health practitioners at Frere hospital to enable staff to communicate with Chinese-speaking patients.

Ian David, who was a sponsor of the school, was also the first to register as a student.

He could not wait to start class, saying: “A language barrier is the biggest barrier that comes between people. I believe this school will break that barrier.”

The school will be based in Vincent and will open its doors on July 16, with classes taking place on weekends.

For more information contact the vice-principal of the school, Kitty He, at 083-258-9152.

(This article is from the Dispatch education report on July 13th, 2016)

OPENING DOORS: The principal of the New Oriental Chinese Language School, Leqin Zhu, and Frere Hospital CEO Rolene Wagner at the launch of the schoolPicture: SIBONGILE NGALWA

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