First-year students give Zulu their best shot

2014-03-06 00:00

UNIVERSITY of KwaZulu-Natal first-year students Anastasia Courtelis and Sinead van Niekerk are eager to learn Zulu. It’s not easy but they are giving it their best shot.

The two friends are the first bunch at the university required to pass or obtain a credit for a prescribed Zulu module before they can graduate, as of this year.

The university announced last year that all new students registering for undergraduate degrees for the first time at UKZN from 2014 will study Zulu–— unless they get an exemption.

This new rule had been met with a mixed reaction — some praised the university for its daring move, while others denounced it.

The university’s stance was that they wanted to promote and facilitate the use of Zulu as a language of learning, communication, instruction and administration.

Courtelis has already started watching SABC 1 to make sure she masters the language.

“I had heard they have the translation from Zulu to English at the bottom right of the screen,” she added.

Courtelis had never spoken the language before and is struggling to learn. “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.”

But Courtelis and her friend Van Niekerk both are determined to hone their skill and are keen to use it in their everyday life.

Van Niekerk is lucky because she knows the basics after attending basic Zulu classes for two years at her primary school and was friends with Xhosa and Zulu speakers.

She believes that learning Zulu will benefit her “as there are a large number of people in our country who speak Zulu”.

“Learning the language will give me the opportunity to communicate with such people in their mother tongue and I will also be able to learn more about the different people of our country.’’

She also thinks this will put her ahead of her peers in securing a job.

To assist in learning, both students have opted to communicate more in Zulu with friends and their classmates.

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