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Wits polyglot wins Chinese proficiency competition

- Wits University

A talent for languages and an interest in the cultures of the world is opening doors for a Wits music student.

Performing Nosipho

Nosipho Ntsizi, a masters student majoring in opera music is set to represent South Africa in China later this year after securing first place at the South African chapter of Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition.

The competition was hosted by the Chinese Embassy of South Africa at the University of Johannesburg. Esteemed guests included His Excellency Chen Xiaodong, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology of South Africa and key stakeholders advancing socioeconomic ties between the two countries.

Ntsizi held her own against other participants from South African institutions who were assessed in Chinese language proficiency, knowledge about China, Chinese cultural and talents amongst others. She obtained 100% in the Chinese writing test, completing the 30-minute test in under six minutes. Ntsizi dazzled the audience with a sensational performance, singing two songs, wo ai ni zhongguo which means “I love you China” and wanjiang meaning “A Great Distance Territory” combined with a dance routine.

A talented artist, Ntsizi’s musical talent was first discovered by her primary school teacher in her hometown of Idutywe in the Eastern Cape. While in school Ntsizi performed with senior choirs and was endorsed to perform with the Walter Sisulu University choir as well as Durban University of Technology choir, exposing the small-town girl to tertiary institutions which subsequently ignited a dream to pursue a university degree. Upon completing high school, she successfully auditioned and enrolled to study music. As part of her opera studies the lyric soprano singer was required to study four foreign languages and cultures -Italian, German, French and Russian, nurturing her love for languages. A polyglot, in 2018 Ntsizi set her mind to study Mandarin, a difficult language to learn, Mandarin requires one to memorise over a thousand written characters, learning the tonality as well as pronunciations of this complex language.

Music and languages hold deep significance in her life.

“Music is a universal language that can break barriers and start a conversation amongst different people,” says Ntsizi. “I value humanity and want to use my music and language skills to protect the world and bring peace" adds Ntsizi who aspires to read for PhD studies.

Ntsizi is not the first Wits student to win this competition, in 2021 Simnikiwe Sangoni from the School of Aeronautical Engineering also took first place in the South African leg of the challenge.

About the competition:

The Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students is an international competition organised by Confucius Institute Headquarters. Launched in 2002, the annual event sees more than 1,000 university students from over 80 countries participating in the semi-finals and finals in China. In addition, there are more than 300,000 students all over the world involved in the preliminary rounds. This competition is an important platform for international students to learn the Chinese language and understand more about China.