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The Joys of Learning Chinese – Lecturer Cynthia Wendo Expounds

The Chinese language, under the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS), has been part of the languages taught at Strathmore University for the past three years . The first lot of students will graduate with level four (Chinese Four) this year, a group that has shown tremendous growth obtaining great expertise in this language. Some of these students sat for the HSK Chinese examination where they passed, an attribute that makes Lecturer Cynthia Wendo very glad.


Cynthia started learning Chinese in 2006 while studying at Nairobi University where she did her undergraduate degree in communication and sociology. Her interest for the language grew from watching Chinese programs and practicing a bit of kungfu for fun. Whilst studying the language, Cynthia’s interest in teaching it grew when she was given an opportunity to teach college students at a college in town;

Chinese is not like any other language, it has what they call the ‘tones’ which are different and create different meanings when pronounced. With time I have managed to learn it to the level of teaching it, I do feel proud teaching it because I believe I understand the students more and I can guide them better. I have taught Chinese for 12years now. I have accepted this teaching to be my calling.

How receptive are students towards this language?

According to Cynthia, students have a hype when they want to start the program but once they realize that the characters are a bit complex, some quit. Therefore this is a language that she advises students to take only if they have a major interest in it and are willing to keep at it through the challenges.


When I started the course it was also difficult for me, especially when it involved the tones. Luckily one of the lecturers noted that I can sing and as a result trained me through singing, and I started participating in competitions and I became better. I got so much better, I was offered to study a masters in Chinese language in China; a once in a lifetime opportunity. My listening, speaking and courage to speak Chinese improved while in China because everything was taught in Chinese.

Benefits of Studying Chinese

  1. Job opportunities increase due to the fact that the student can speak in Chinese.
  2. Self-employment opportunities arise, such as through becoming interpreters or in opening Chinese businesses in the country.
  3. People can become tour guides who can interpret for the Chinese community when they come to Kenya for tourism.
  4. In the case of criminal activities and a Chinese individual is arrested, one can work as an interpreter in the courts providing another avenue for income.

Chinese Club

In future, Chinese students will hopefully be engaged in forming a Chinese club where the Chinese culture can be taught further to benefit the learners. Chinese activities such as cooking, attending festivals, showcasing talents etc. would be explored in this club.


Chinese students learn four levels of the program right from their first year of university at Strathmore; Chinese one; Chinese two; Chinese three; and Chinese four. Each program takes a whole year to learn with Chinese one level set as the foundation class for this language.