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