A marvel at Man­darin

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By ROSE CAWLEY

When you open the fridge at Kathryn Robin­son’s house you won’t find clas­sic Kiwi fare.

You’ll find silken tofu, fresh noo­dles and jars with not a word of English on them.

And it is all thanks to the 11-year-old’s ob­ses­sion with ev­ery­thing Chi­nese.

Her flair for Man­darin was no­ticed at the Morn­ing Star Bilin­gual Preschool in Ep­som, and her mother Michelle Blax­all de­cided it was worth pur­su­ing with. Kathryn has just won the Na­tional Chi­nese Bridge Speech Com­pe­ti­tion hosted by the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute.

The year 7 Dioce­san pupil com­peted against stu­dents up to year 10 and is the youngest to win the ti­tle.

The young­ster says her speech on her favourite sub­ject, Chi­nese cui­sine, even made the judges hun­gry.

Kathryn says she gets an in­ter­est­ing re­ac­tion when­ever she speaks Man­darin.

‘‘I re­ally do like sur­pris­ing people, like I was at Chi­na­town the other day and I said some­thing in Man­darin and they were like ‘wow’.’’

Her pas­sion for food was in­spired by her lan­guage tu­tor Bee Keow Lim, who no­ticed she needed some­thing to re­vi­talise her in­ter­est in the dif­fi­cult sub­ject.

‘‘I was think­ing cook­ing would make the les­son more in­ter­est­ing and she needed some­thing in­ter­est­ing to make her learn in a fun way,’’ Keow Lim says.

So once a week Kathryn has a Chi­nese cook­ing les­son which dou­bles as a Man­darin les­son.

‘‘Along with Man­darin a lot of Chi­nese cus­toms and cul­ture have been in­te­grated in with the cook­ing,’’ Keow Lim says.

‘‘Af­ter cook­ing we eat the re­sult but Kathryn knows that you can’t eat straight away, you have to let the elders go first and you have to eat qui­etly.’’

Kathryn’s mother says the fam­ily is only too happy to en­joy the spoils of her daugh­ter’s hard work.

‘‘On both sides of the fam­ily go­ing back gen­er­a­tions we have spo­ken just one lan­guage.’’

Dioce­san Chi­nese lan­guage teacher Elsa Hol­l­i­day says Kathryn is one of the most ad­vanced nonna­tive Chi­nese stu­dents in her year level.

‘‘If you close your eyes you would think she is a reg­u­lar Chi­nese girl,’’ she says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.