Language skills bridge ties with Kenya

Source:chinadaily 2024-05-17

Hillary Makokha from Moi University, in Kenya, had never had a chance to practice his public speaking skills until he enrolled in Chinese classes at the university two years ago. The second-year student in information science said he only enrolled for classes at the Confucius Institute out of curiosity but admits he is glad he has acquired extra skills.

Makokha was part of 20 final contestants from six colleges in Kenya that participated in the 23rd Chinese Bridge-Chinese Proficiency Competition for College Students, held at the University of Nairobi on Tuesday. Like other contestants, Makokha showed his mastery of Chinese by making a three-minute speech in the language and completing a China national knowledge test. The participants also showcased their talents and understanding of Chinese culture in areas such as folk songs and dances, operas and martial arts.

Makokha who received an award for his performance at the competition, said learning Chinese has not only given him a foreign language skill, but also has given him the opportunity to appreciate the rich Chinese culture, as well as satisfying his curiosity for a mysterious yet rapidly developing country.

According to Stephen Kiama, the vice-chancellor at the University of Nairobi, this year's competition has grown to include 200 students who participated at the college level before the 20 finalists were selected. He added that the number of colleges taking part in the competition has increased after it opened up to non-Confucius institutes last year.

Wang Shangxue, director of the Confucius Institute, University of Nairobi, said the inclusion of non-Confucius institutes in the competition was necessitated by the improvement of Chinese language skills among Kenyan students in recent years and that is why, since last year, the contest has been opened to all colleges, which offer Chinese language courses in Kenya.

"This shows intensifying Chinese language education in Kenya, and the number of college students studying Chinese has been increasing with an increasing number of schools in Kenya opening Chinese language courses," Wang said.

"The contest has been an incentive for overseas students to study Chinese, and has played an important role in promoting Chinese language learning in Kenya," she said.

Zhang Zhizhong, minister counselor at the Chinese embassy in Kenya, speaking at the opening ceremony of the contests, encouraged the students to take advantage of opportunities presented by learning the Chinese language.


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