My English teacher spoke IsiZulu

Years back I ran into a gibberish of words jumbled up, with no sense but I could read them; it was one of those things that try to make you feel guilty by saying “if you can read this you are lucky”

It’s such a small thing isn’t it, it seems small being able to read and write, specifically for this writing post, being able to read and write English. If you can read this blog and importantly utter the words as you read, consider yourself to have knowledge, well you have a tool that give you access to an abundance of knowledge/information that is waiting for you to discover it. However because you probably take things for granted, you will read and say whatever.
I am dedicating this post to my English teacher Ms. T.I Dlamini. 

I am currently a foreign language (English) teacher in China. I have a lot of history with this language, I have been a fan of reading and writing since I could remember, certainly it’s not something I will quit on doing soon.

With honesty I can say that it’s not easy teaching English to young kids. Can you Imagine it’s only been a week for me so far and I can tell how strenuous it will be. Again to be honest I think the strenuous part of it for now is that I have spent so many years doing more action than talking that talking seems almost foreign; gosh how do people talk so much it’s exhausting; and of course having been an academic lecturer teaching young kids might seem like an easy transition but gosh!! I can feel my voice box cracking already.

However as much as this post reflects on that; I want to reflect on something more significant. It refers to the title of this post.

During my tenure as a student, a high schooler, our English teacher while teaching English would break into mother lingo, this of course to explain better what she is teaching. I was trapped in two minds about that action of hers, loathing it to the core and finding appreciate how relaxed she was about teaching us this foreign language.

As an adult and an English teacher in a foreign country I am leaning more on seeing the bigger picture to her actions. My eyes have been widely opened about what she did and how it was helpful to us to learn a second language.

Let me explain how!

If this happened to you as a high schooler you’ve probably figured, maybe were I am going with this. Honestly English is not an easy language to learn, it is a foreign language. It is a pool with sharks, English being the sharks that you have to swim around. You have to know these punctuation marks, these letters and put them all together. Ahhhhhhhh!!! The headache.

So Ms. Dlamini would break it down using IsiZulu, something we were familiar with, something we grew up around, only then would be go “Ohhhh” I get it.

She would literally break down whole assignment/task in IsiZulu but she was very strict in how the writing was constructed. You still had to make sense, English was English after all.

Why am I noting this? Well being here I have seen that the Chinese teachers sometimes, well most times have a transition, they use the same tactic of using Chinese to teach English. Only in those moments were the language seems difficult. You can see the kids nodding in understanding afterwards.

So there it is, the trick, well it is not necessarily a trick, I think probably worldwide this is a utilized tactic. The English really did us nasty didn’t they? You can try deny it as much as you can… like how you deny that the Christians won the religion battle (just ask yourself what year is it) English is a universal language.

To communicate better as humans and interact, English is the form of language used. I think no matter were you go in the world, if you know English you stand a better chance to survive then if you only knew your native language…well unless you’re lucky enough to bump into a fellow native, but what are the chances you will find a Zulu man in Asia.

There is an advantage to learning languages, as many as you can. At the centre ofcourse there is English, French, Portugese and Spanish. Chinese is slowly squeezing its way in but damn, it’s not easy, so the race is long for it. The world is changing, quickly too, we are inter twining constantly; cultures are crossing borders, ideas and whole lot more. In the words of Pieter Dirk Uys it is time to “Adapt or die”


What are your thoughts?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: