Porterico Van Wyk, a 13-year-old Namibian boy, is a great believer in the importance of learning different languages. For the past few weeks, Van Wyk has been teaching other youngsters how to speak Chinese.
Van Wyk gives free training on Saturday and Sunday for an hour at home in Rehoboth, a town in central Namibia, 90 kilometers south of the capital Windhoek.
The boy started learning Chinese language through a few friends and later online.
“I decided on Chinese because of the great relationship that China and Namibia have. I have interest in the Chinese culture, language and the customs that attracted me. China has opened itself up to the world, encouraging foreign investment and economic cooperation,” he said.
Besides Chinese, Van Wyk also speaks Afrikaans and English, he is proud to share what he knows with other youngsters.
“Learning a new language is one of the absolute best investments that anyone can make. Don’t just learn one word, read on and discover more,” The boy stressed.
Van Wyk said he is pleased to see that the Namibian youth are embracing the Chinese language more.
“There is an increase in those who are eager to learn the Chinese language. I started off with only one student, but now I have five,” he said.
Van Wyk said for now he is not taking in any more students.
“I don’t want to have too much on my hands at once. I also have other commitments such as my daily household tasks and school work. For now the five youngsters that I am teaching is enough. I plan to teach them until December,” he added.
The boy said he is happy that his parents allowed him to do what he loves.
“We might be children, but we also have dreams and passions. If you listen to your children and advise them on what is right then they will be happy. My parents gave us a few rules to follow and I will certainly do that. I am pleased to share what I know with others,” he said.
According to Zhang Fan, director of Confucius Institute in the University of Namibia (UNAM), Chinese lessons were introduced to Namibia from 2013. Zhang said the rising demand to learn the Chinese language in Namibia has allowed the institution to grow bigger. The institute currently has 15 Chinese teaching sites in the country and has taught over 5,600 students by now.
“Annually the number of Nambian people who are interested in learning Chinese are increasing. We now have more schools in Namibia teaching the Chinese language. Currently we have schools in Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Rundu and Ongwediva,” Zhang said.
The director said many Namibians are eager to learn Chinese, because it has the potential to improve international communication and open international doors for them.
“Many Namibian students have said that they are learning Chinese because of the educational opportunities. Education is the key to a successful future. We are giving a scholarship to the best Namibian students to go and study in China,” he added.
Zhang said the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a temporary stop on teaching, so he teaches online.
“When it comes to learning Chinese online, classes may not be as effective as face-to-face lessons, but it keeps the inspiration going,” he said.