UKZN students and good friends Ms Anastasia Courtelis and Ms Sinead van Niekerk are excited to be learning isiZulu as first year students. Both are keen to master the language and use it in everyday life.
The University has made isiZulu language classes a requirement for all students entering UKZN in order to promote “nation-building” and to bring “diverse languages together”.
‘I feel isiZulu will benefit me as there are a large number of people in our country who speak isiZulu,’ said van Niekerk. ‘Learning the language will give me the opportunity to communicate to such people in their mother tongue and I will also be able to learn more about the different people of our country.’
Van Niekerk had taken basic isiZulu classes for two years at her primary school and being friends with many different people who speak both isiXhosa and isiZulu, she had often attempted to say a few words in isiZulu. ‘I have always been eager to learn either isiXhosa or isiZulu but I have never really been taught to speak it besides the two years in primary school.’
Her friend Anastasia, on the other hand, had never spoken the language. ‘I’m struggling with it but I guess I just have to put my head down and work. I find it difficult to learn the vocabulary because it is very different to English and the pronunciations of the words are difficult to grasp. But I’ll get there.’
To assist in learning both students have opted to communicate in isiZulu with friends and isiZulu-speaking people during lecture breaks. ‘I have also started watching SABC 1. I heard they have the translation from isiZulu to English at the bottom right of the screen,’ said Courtelis.
Van Niekerk added: ‘I think it is a good idea for UKZN to introduce isiZulu, as it will bring many different cultures together as more people will be able to communicate with one another. It will make it easier for us to get better jobs as being able to speak an indigenous language is a great advantage as it means we will be able to work with a number of different people.’
The two students suggested special evenings arranged by UKZN where isiZulu speakers and those who speak other languages pair up and converse to practice the language and to see where their weaknesses lie.