Linguist offers Chinese characters crash course

Svetlana Chevenko is an experienced linguist who is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge.

A linguist is offering an enjoyable and memorable crash course on Chinese characters for school-aged children and university students.

Svetlana Chevenko, a Pakuranga resident, incorporates etymology – the study of the origins of words – to create a free one-hour class to teach students 50 Chinese characters.

“Etymology helps students to remember them very easily,” Chevenko says.

At the lesson, students plunge into the life of ancient China and get an understanding of how the ancient Chinese created this unique system of writing, Chevenko says.

She spent six years studying Chinese, Japanese and English at Moscow State University, and has a PhD in applied linguistics at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

She has 200 publications on Japanese, Chinese and English. She is a researcher with the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies in automatic translation from Japanese and Chinese, which helped her to develop an accelerated method of teaching foreign languages and Chinese characters.

“The Chinese writing is very difficult,” she says. “Unfortunately teachers do not explain characters, just force students to remember them writing them in special workbooks.”

Her new method is based on the etymology of the characters. This way, she says, helps students fall in love with the characters and make the Chinese language appear less daunting.

It also is used in such a way that the imagination makes connections between different words.

“This lesson is also very useful for students who are starting learning Japanese and Korean because they also used the characters,” Chevenko says.

From time to time she teaches children for the Gifted Children Association (GCA). When the pandemic started, she organised a Skype session with a group of children.

“I have been teaching them Chinese for more than a year-and-a-half,” she says. “They love it!”

Cheveneko is ready to provide “50 Chinese Characters in One Hour” over Zoom free for schools if somebody can organise it.

She is also offering an “English Etymology” crash course: studying the origins of English words.

“In this difficult time, I’d like to help people using my knowledge,” she says. Chevenko can be contacted by email – lanaauckland@xtra.co.nz.