The only Sene­galese teacher at Dakar’s Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute uses lo­cal cul­ture to share his pas­sion for Man­darin

ChinAfrica - - Lifestyle -

IN his mother lan­guage Serer, Koumakh Bakhoum’s given name lit­er­ally means the “ini­ti­a­tion mas­ter,” namely the one in charge of the rite by which young peo­ple of­fi­cially join the adult com­mu­nity. And judg­ing by his cur­rent job as a teacher, in which he in­tro­duces young Sene­galese to the Chi­nese lan­guage, his name was some­thing of a pre­mo­ni­tion.

As of to­day, Bakhoum is the only Sene­galese teacher work­ing at the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute of Cheikh Anta Diop Univer­sity of Dakar. Among the dozens of in­sti­tutes spread all over the African con­ti­nent, the vast ma­jor­ity is staffed with Chi­nese teach­ers, and lo­cal teach­ers are few and rare. But Sene­gal is one of the few African coun­tries, with Nige­ria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zam­bia, that can boast of hav­ing one.

For Bakhoum, be­ing the only Sene­galese teacher means a “huge re­spon­si­bil­ity.” This al­lows him to lever­age lo­cal cul­ture and lan­guages to make Chi­nese more ap­proach­able. teach­ing method re­lies on in­ter­cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tion and a con­stant flow of mo­ti­va­tion. Ac­cord­ing to stu­dent feed­back, his method seems to have hit the spot.

“I have to use cul­tures of both China and Sene­gal to teach. It is a pi­o­neer­ing ap­proach, but I al­ways try to ex­plain the cul­tural as­pects of the lan­guage. When you learn Chi­nese through Serer or Wolof [both lo­cal lan­guages of Sene­gal], it be­comes im­me­di­ately eas­ier,” he told Chi­nafrica.

With this in mind, he is pre­par­ing a se­ries of Chi­nese ra­dio cour­ses to be broad­casted, among oth­ers, by China Ra­dio In­ter­na­tional, in which he in­tends to make full use of both Chi­nese and Sene­galese cul­tures to teach Man­darin.

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