Language Class

Between serving ice cream, baking banana bread, and squeezing fresh fruit juice each day, all of the employees of Inzozi Nziza sit down for language class to practice and improve their English twice a week. Each of the women looks forward to the lessons, and they study throughout the week so that they are prepared for each class.

Students gather for their bi-weekly language class.

You may be asking yourself, why is learning English so important to these women? What good is English in Butare? But these concerns do not stop these women from being enthusiastic about their studies. The women of Inzozi Nziza recognize that only Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda and that learning English is a way to expand their world. They have a great desire to talk to foreigners who pass through their city. All of the women who work at the shop are already used to performing normal customer interactions in English, but they would like to be able to do more. Some of them also have different desires for learning new languages. Chantal wants to understand music lyrics in English, and some of the women would like to be able to read and understand scripture in English. These different motivations have made all of the women passionate and enthusiastic students.

Students play “Simon Says” to practice imperatives and new vocabulary.

Language class often has a variety of different elements. The more structured parts of lessons include review and teaching vocabulary and grammar, but the biggest focus of each class is probably conversation. Besides direct questions and answers, the women also like to play games that encourage them to speak in English. Each class we also spend time answering questions the women bring to class. Outside of class the women get the chance to practice English everyday with different customers or visitors around Butare.

Seraphine names and points to Chantal’s body parts to teach new vocabulary to the other students

Besides learning English, the women also like sharing Kinyarwanda, the language spoken throughout Rwanda, with visitors coming through. Here are some useful phrases to know:

Mwaramutse – Good Morning
Mwiriwe- Good Afternoon
Amakuru? – What’s the news? (How are you?)
Ni Meza- Good (I’m fine)
Yego- Yes
Oya- No
Murakoze (cyane)- Thank you (very much)


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