Helping children learn isiZulu

SINCE isiZulu has been introduced into the school curriculum, many pupils who are not first-language isiZulu speakers have been struggling to keep up.

Enter, My First isiZulu Picture Dictionary, the brainchild of KwaDukuza parents and graphic designers Leon Govender and Raksha Chabalalsing.

My First isiZulu Picture Dictionary, is a glossy learning guide, created and self-published by the pair, that takes pupils through daily life via the pages of the book in isiZulu.

Pupils are able to see pictures of everyday items like a television, refrigerator or an animal, and what they are called in isiZulu.

The book also includes isiZulu and English translations for colours, months of the year and how to use the words in sentences.

So, how did the idea come about? As parents to Yashvir, a nine-year-old Grade 4 pupil, they were left dumbfounded last year when he brought home isiZulu homework from school.

Their struggle took them to other parents to find out if they were experiencing similar situations.

As it turned out, many of the parents were faced with the same plight; they had little to no knowledge of isiZulu to help their children and few if any options to help themselves.

After a few months of research, the pair decided to do something about their problem and so the book was born.

According to Chabalalsing, they had thought of the concept a while ago, however, the experience with their son prompted them to act on their idea. “We gathered our information and put the book together, which should have taken at least a year, in four months.

We wanted to make a difference and help those who were struggling just as we were. We used what our son was learning at school as a reference and common, daily words as well. We designed and illustrated the book all by ourselves and the book is self-published so we could keep it as affordable as possible.”

Govender said the book offers basic isiZulu learning for all ages.

“Many of us, irrespective of our age, are not familiar with isiZulu and this book is a tool we can all use to get up to speed.

We can learn while our children learn and that in itself is a great bonding experience.”’

According to the pair, who are currently promoting the book which launched mid-August, they are keen to provide the book as a tool to schools.

“Many of the schools we have visited thus far have said they are struggling as much as the pupils due to their limited resources.

“It would be great to have these books as learning resources in the classroom so we are trying to get businesses involved to sponsor books to schools,” said Govender.

Finally, they said they hoped that the book would help diminish the divide in society brought about by the language barrier.

“We want to bridge the language gap and I think this is a great start,” said Chabalalsing.

The books are available from Govender at 078 285 4721 or Chabalalsing at 071 495 2327 as well as distributors in Ballito (Celenia Padayachee - 074 588 6559), Verulam (Sharon Bhiman 073 617 6816), Amanzimtoti (Nicole Ramlal - 082 853 1971) and Phoenix (Anusha Bhagwath - 082 476 7377).

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