Cameroonian student scoops top language prize

Cameroonian post-graduate student, Tsomejio Atsah, has won an international Chinese teaching award at Shanghai International Studies University.

Cameroonian post graduate student Tsomejio Atsah has won an international Chinese teaching award at Shanghai International Studies University.

The Shanghai Normal University student claimed the prize from 18 foreign competitors, who were studying Chinese language in Shanghai and Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.

Atsah was the foreign students’ champion after defeating the competitors in Chinese language and culture knowledge tests, mimic class teaching and the performing arts.

“Teaching Chinese requires comprehensive quality,” said Lu Qinning, deputy director of the School of Chinese Studies and Exchange at Shanghai International Studies University. “A teacher needs to be good at communicating and interacting with students.

“They have to design the class teaching carefully, introducing the language point to the students and guiding them to practice step by step in a natural way.”

Lu said most of the foreign students had done well but Atsah was the best.

Atsah and another five contestants were also selected to participate in the “Chinese Language Teaching Idols” competition in June.

Atsah told Shanghai Daily that he had studied Chinese for three and a half years. Before he came to Shanghai, he studied for two years at Confucius Institute and a college in his home country.

“Few people in Cameroon have studied Chinese because they think it is difficult to learn,” he said. “But I took up the challenge because it might bring me brighter career prospects.”

After graduation he worked for a Chinese company in Cameroon as an interpreter. But he found that his Chinese was not good enough.

“I believed that the best way to improve my Chinese was to come to China and I could also learn more about Chinese culture,” he said.

“My first language is French,” he said. “But in Shanghai, few people speak French, while my English was so awkward that Chinese people could not understand me. So the only way to communicate with them is to speak Chinese. It forced me to practice and make improvements quickly.”

Now he can talk with people in Chinese fluently, while his English has also improved.

Atsah is a big music fan and one of the secrets of learning Chinese so quickly was because he chose to sing Chinese songs. Jay Chou, Faye Wong and Liao Changyong are his favorite singers. He also sang a song of Liao during the competition.

He wishes to teach foreigners Chinese in Shanghai and take a part-time job as a translator after he graduates in two years’ time.

Yang Meiping / SHINE

Tsomejio Atsah, a Cameroonian post graduate student at Shanghai Normal University, teaches in a mimic class during the competition.   

Lu said there is a huge gap between the supply and demand of Chinese language teachers.

“It is estimated that there are 60 million people learning Chinese around the world, but there are only 60,000 teachers,” he said.

It is one reason for China to cultivate teachers, including foreigners. The other reason is that they have advantages in teaching their compatriots, says Lu.

“The foreign learners communicate better with students, who are compatriots with their mother tongue and better understand the negative influence of their mother languages on their Chinese study,” he said.

He also said that more and more foreigners are interested in learning Chinese and teaching.

A masters program of Chinese teaching at Shanghai International Studies University has increased in popularity with foreigners.

“In the first year, we recruited fewer than 10 foreign students, and now we have about 30 each year,” he said. “And as the number of applicants is increasing, the enrollment ratio is decreasing.”

According to Lu, 80 percent of its graduates are now teaching Chinese or promoting cultural exchange between China and their home countries.

“One of our students from Thailand is now the dean of a Chinese studies school in a Thai university. Another from Kyrghyzstan edited the first Kirghiz-Chinese dictionary,” Lu said proudly.


Yang Meiping / SHINE

Gomez Martin Lilibel, from Cuba, shows her teaching skill.

“I believed that the best way to improve my Chinese was to come to China and I could also learn more about Chinese culture,” he said.

“My first language is French,” he said. “But in Shanghai, few people speak French, while my English was so awkward that Chinese people could not understand me. So the only way to communicate with them is to speak Chinese. It forced me to practice and make improvements quickly.”

Now he can talk with people in Chinese fluently, while his English has also improved.

Atsah is a big music fan and one of the secrets of learning Chinese so quickly was because he chose to sing Chinese songs. Jay Chou, Faye Wong and Liao Changyong are his favorite singers. He also sang a song of Liao during the competition.

He wishes to teach foreigners Chinese in Shanghai and take a part-time job as a translator after he graduates in two years’ time.

Lu said there is a huge gap between the supply and demand of Chinese language teachers.

“It is estimated that there are 60 million people learning Chinese around the world, but there are only 60,000 teachers,” he said.

It is one reason for China to cultivate teachers, including foreigners. The other reason is that they have advantages in teaching their compatriots, says Lu.

“The foreign learners communicate better with students, who are compatriots with their mother tongue and better understand the negative influence of their mother languages on their Chinese study,” he said.

He also said that more and more foreigners are interested in learning Chinese and teaching.

A masters program of Chinese teaching at Shanghai International Studies University has increased in popularity with foreigners.

“In the first year, we recruited fewer than 10 foreign students, and now we have about 30 each year,” he said. “And as the number of applicants is increasing, the enrollment ratio is decreasing.”

According to Lu, 80 percent of its graduates are now teaching Chinese or promoting cultural exchange between China and their home countries.

“One of our students from Thailand is now the dean of a Chinese studies school in a Thai university. Another from Kyrghyzstan edited the first Kirghiz-Chinese dictionary,” Lu said proudly.


Yang Meiping / SHINE

Gomez Martin Lilibel, from Ukraine, shows her teaching skill.

Yang Meiping / SHINE

Gomez Martin Lilibel, from Cuba, performs Chinese martial arts.


Special Reports
Top