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Chadian students tune into learning Chinese

China Daily | Updated: 2021-10-20 07:45
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"You are in first grade, you have to study hard. When it comes to learning Mandarin, I am very experienced." As Chinese language teacher Li Liang beat time, the lyrics echoed through the illuminated amphitheater of the Chinese department of the University of N'Djamena. Nearly 50 students tapped the desks with their hands, singing to the lyrics that formed the lesson.

The oral Chinese lesson titled Guiding New Students was created by Li. Since he reformed the oral Chinese pedagogy in 2019 with the help of the "singing method", the students have successfully learned over 100 songs and mastered a vocabulary of about 900 Chinese words and phrases.

In September 2018, Li, who had already spent a decade teaching the Chinese language in Africa, came to Chad to take up the post of professor of oral Chinese at the University of N'Djamena. Aged 52, he tries to teach beginners with Chinese songs.

To compose songs, Li adapts vocabulary, sentence patterns and certain grammatical points into lyrics and uses traditional Chinese folk songs. In order to keep students interested, the dean of the Chinese department continued to innovate, not only taking inspiration from traditional Chinese opera, but also creating nearly 30 percent of the musical accompaniment.

Following a good response from the students, the teaching method also continues from the elementary oral course to the intermediate level.

"The original Chinese folk rhymes and children's songs are good, but they are not suitable for beginners because a lot of the vocabulary is beyond their comprehension level, which can affect the motivation of the students," the professor says, adding that his Chinese songs, created to fit the actual level of the students, are easy to digest and absorb.

The seasoned teacher says that learning the Chinese language by singing has long existed in China.

The intensive use of Chinese folk songs allows students to appreciate the charm of traditional Chinese culture, Li says, who believes that teaching through singing is effective in learning languages.

The Chinese department of the University of N'Djamena was established in 2013 with a three-year study period. Due to a poor teaching base, in the second batch, only 17 students graduated and no one passed the fourth level of the Chinese Proficiency Test, known as HSK 4.

From September 2018 to July this year, he was just accompanying the students of the third batch. However, due to the impact of COVID-19 and political instability in Chad last April, the presence of the students only lasted around 18 months, but thanks to the oral teaching through singing method, 47 students successfully graduated and 11 passed their HSK 4 exams.

Among the 11 laureates is Franco Allaramadji. The 23-year-old intern at SPT Energy Group is responsible for the Chinese-English-French translation.

"Mr Li was the first teacher to teach us the language by singing. This method was good. Every time I forgot the words, I immediately remembered it with the song," says Allaramadji, who is the champion of the Chadian division of the 20th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students.

Fabius Doumbaye, 22, a classmate of Allaramadji and marketing intern at Huawei Technologies, believes that learning Chinese language through songs allows beginners to progress quickly.

"The singing method of teaching is unique. Professor Li not only improved the academic performance of students, but also succeeded in making the Chinese language and culture known and loved by a greater number of Chadians," says Mahamat Saleh Daoussa Haggar, president of the University of N'Djamena.

Fu Zihao, an official at the Chinese embassy in Chad, says Li's reform of Chinese language education lies in the idea that the Chinese language education, and cultural exchange between China and other countries, must adapt to the characteristics and acceptance of the targeted people.

Li's term ended last month, but he says his research of teaching through singing would continue. "In the future, I'll strengthen the study of music and make more use of traditional Chinese musical materials from which I draw inspiration for teaching," he says.


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