Virtual classes keep Chinese language learners engaged despite pandemic lockdown in Zimbabwe

While many schools in Zimbabwe are still waiting for the resumption of normal classes, Naume Mudzonga’s Chinese language teaching has moved to online to keep her students engaged despite the lockdowns due to the pandemic.

Naume Mudzonga conducts an online lesson in a classroom at Mother Touch Senior School in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Sept. 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Tafara Mugwara)


Mudzonga, a graduate from Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology in northern China and a beneficiary of Confucius Institute Chinese language scholarship from University of Zimbabwe, now teaches Chinese at Mother Touch Senior School in the capital Harare.

When classes begin, she logs on to Microsoft Teams, an online communication and collaboration platform that allows people to work together online.

To keep her students actively engaged during the virtual classes, Mudzonga makes sure that there is maximum participation of all students and regular responses from them, which provide valuable insights into their opinions and help her understand their grasp of the content.

The virtual environment, in Mudzonga’s view, ensures that students, safely and comfortably at home, can interact and make contributions as much as they do in face to face classes.

Primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe closed in March due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, just a week before the end of the first term.

“We realized that if we fail to teach them during this lockdown, exams will still come and they will have nothing to write,” she told Xinhua.

But she also admited that not all her students can attend the online classes regularly. “Some of them are less privileged and they cannot afford data bundles every day. So sometimes they attend two classes per week or three classes per week,” she said.

The move to conduct Chinese language lessons online was prompted by the fact that there has been a rising demand from students seeking to learn the language.

Mudzonga said the influx of Chinese businesses in Zimbabwe over the past years has made the ability to speak Chinese a great selling point in the job market.

Economic engagement between China and Africa has expanded exponentially over the years. As Zimbabwe continues to cement its bilateral relations with China through increased economic engagement, opportunities also grow within the frameworks of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Forum on Africa-China Cooperation, therefore there has been a pressing need to know Chinese language, history and culture.

Zimbabwe’s Look East Policy was adopted in 2003 with the aim to expand bilateral and trade relations with China. The country has seen a surge in the number of parents sending their children to learn Chinese.

One of Mudzonga’s students Rumbidzai Mundeta said the ability to use Chinese language offers many opportunities. “When you know a different language, jobs tend to became more likely to be obtained. People are interested in those who know many languages,” she said.

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