Nigeria: Lagos to introduce Chinese language in schools

Don Osborn dzo at
Sun Apr 27 13:51:04 UTC 2008

I'm curious to know how the amounts committed for French, Arabic, and
Chinese language instruction compare with amounts spent on education in
Nigerian languages (including among other things, teacher education and
materials). I'm also wondering about strategies that involve Nigerian
languages as well as foreign languages.

One imagines that some infrastructure like language labs and so on could be
leveraged for many different kinds of language instruction and different

Another important area would be materials (dictionaries, learning materials)
relating Nigerian languages directly with major international languages like
French, Arabic, Chinese - and for that matter with each other. At present, I
imagine that all materials in Nigeria are from English to these other

In the case of Chinese, there is instruction of Hausa on a limited scale in
China (mainly for broadcasters); it might not be too hard to generate the
data and the funding to develop Hausa <-> Chinese dictionaries and learning

This might sound frivolous, but I think it's important on several levels.
For instance, when I learned Chinese (via English) I found numerous
occasions where features of Chinese were easier to understand with reference
to Bambara (e.g., use of postpositions) or Fulfulde (the inclusive "we"
zh=zanmen ff=enen), and I even got the impression that Chinese was being
described to the learner not in terms of Chinese, but in terms of Western
linguistic categories. This contrasts with the way I learned Fulfulde. For
instance time/aspect in Chinese verbs seemed more like Fulfulde or Bambara
than like English or French. 

This is grossly oversimplified and coming from a learner not a linguist, but
the point is that if in African countries there is investment in teaching
international languages, it would seem to put multilingual African students
at a disadvantage to teach with materials and methods designed for L1
English (or L1 French) speakers.

Furthermore, there seems to be a really intersting opportunity here to
invest in African languages AND major foreign languages by developing
materials that directly link those two (and not limited to English). For
instance, the added increment necessary to bring Nigerian languages into the
equation in the Nigerian foreign languages push is probably relatively
modest, but with tremendous payoff for the quality of language learning, the
country's languages and cultures, and a wider set of language-related skills

Don Osborn

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-lgpolicy-list at [mailto:owner-lgpolicy-
> list at] On Behalf Of Harold Schiffman
> Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 9:11 AM
> To: lp
> Subject: Nigeria: Lagos to introduce Chinese language in schools
> Lagos to introduce Chinese language in schools
> . Saturday, Apr 26, 2008
> The Lagos State Government said that it would introduce the teaching
> and learning of Chinese language alongside French and Arabic in its
> schools.
> Already, the government has committed N54.3 million to the
> construction of six laboratories for the teaching and learning of
> French, China/Mandarin and Arabic languages. The Deputy Governor, Mrs
> Adebisi Sosan, said that this had become necessary, as Chinese
> language was becoming an international language alongside French,
> Nigeria's second national language after English. Sosan, while
> briefing newsmen on the activities of the Ministry of Education so
> far, however, explained that the teaching of Chinese language had not
> become a policy matter for the government.
> She added that 11,460 pairs of desks and benches had been supplied to
> primary and secondary schools and 3,100 sets of furniture for
> principals and teachers. "Science equipment worth N256 million and
> been supplied to 15 senior and 25 junior secondary schools, while the
> laboratories in 10 junior secondary schools were equipped with
> N134million. "The state sponsored 26 inspectors and teachers to Benin
> Republic for retraining on effective teachings of French language,"
> Sosan said.
> She also said that government had released N185.5 million for the
> payment of WAEC/SSCE fees for 61,510 SSS 111 students in public
> secondary schools. "Government has also supplied 120 braille textbooks
> to visually impaired students and sponsored two physically-challenged
> children from special schools to the Scout Camp in the UK," she said.
> She disclosed that teachers would benefit from other trances of the
> N40 billion mortgage scheme initiated by the government.
> Sosan also disclosed that several teachers and students from the state
> public schools, who had done the state proud in the last one year,
> would be celebrated on a day to be announced later. They included
> Maser hennery Akahara who won the first prize at the House of Commons
> parliamentary debate which featured students from 60 counties London.
> --
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