Getting revolutionary in language learning
Linguist Svetlana Chevenko has a knack for making the daunting task of learning 50 Chinese characters in two hours possible.
A key method of the Pakuranga resident’s crash courses is the incorporation of etymology - illustrating the origin of words, which proves to be effective for a language featuring many pictographs and ideographs.
Lots of the content is based on Shuowen Jiezi, a classic book on Chinese language and characters, as well as the concept of Zen.
With pictures and games, learners are able to recognise, read, write and type the Chinese words she taught after an interesting session, Chevenko says.
Among her students are young ones from the NZ Associ- ation for Gifted Children, and she also teaches classes at schools in Auckland that have an emphasis on Russian language and culture.
‘‘They were very happy [about the learning experience],’’ Chevenko says, adding she hopes to make better use of her skills and introduce the language to more people.
‘‘China is a great country with wonderful history and culture,’’ she says.
‘‘In Auckland, there are so many Chinese people and so many inscriptions in Chinese. Why not understand a little bit? It’s great knowledge.’’
Originally from Ukraine, the linguist spent six years studying Chinese, Japanese and English at Moscow State University, and got a PhD in applied linguistics at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
She worked as a researcher at the institution for many years before coming to New Zealand in the early 1990s, studying automatic translation from Japanese and automatic recognition of Chinese characters.
The experience of the ‘‘teaching machine’’ helped her create her own method of language teaching, which is different from the ‘‘horrible’’ way of rote memorisation, according to Chevenko.
Her book shelf is filled with dictionaries and books on language studies, and she spends lots of time developing new crash courses, with a recent one called Let’s Start Reading Chinese.
She’s also working on videos to make her courses available online.
Anyone who wishes to contact language expert Svetlana Chevenko can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pakuranga resident Svetlana Chevenko displays her crash course in Chinese language.