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Overcoming language barriers

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Overcoming language barriers

Hannah Martin September 6th 2011

JEHOVAH'S Witness Bible teachers are learning Chinese in an effort to connect with international students at the University of Tasmania.

Using their door-to-door approach, Jehovah's Witnesses are canvassing homes in Sandy Bay to find Chinese students, says the Hobart congregation's Chinese teacher James Kung. He said they also visited Asian grocers and restaurants.

"When we first started Bible education in Chinese ... most people found it to be a bit of a novelty," Mr Kung said.

The organisation has had its Bibles, magazines, leaflets and promotional material printed in Chinese.

"There aren't many Chinese publications in Tasmania and they seem surprised to see all of the Chinese literature we have," Mr Kung said.

The move is paying off for the congregation, which now holds both English and Chinese services at its South Hobart hall. Up to 20 people attend weekly Chinese sessions.

Bible teacher Rebecca Kurczock has spent the past four years learning to speak Chinese. She said she was far from fluent in the language but had learned enough to teach university students about the Bible.

Ms Kurczock is now teaching accountancy student Lizhen Feng, 23, and Wenying Lu, 24, who is studying to be a pharmacist.

"They put up with many mistakes and they've taught me many things [about Chinese] as well," she said.

The students will be among the 2400 people expected to attend the Jehovah's Witness district convention at the Derwent Entertainment Centre at the end of the week.

Members from each of the state's 24 congregations will take part in a door-knock campaign to personally invite people to attend the free convention.

It is part of a nationwide Jehovah's Witness program that involves 24 conventions held in 12 cities throughout the next month.

About 80,000 people are expected to participate and the program will be presented in sign language, Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Greek, Italian, Korean, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese at various locations.

Article Source: http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2011/09/06/259281_tasmania-news.html

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