6-Year Old Master of 4 Languages
A six-year-old Catholic school pupil in Grade 1 is the master of four languages at Grade 5 level.
Johannesburg-born Keith Mashiane, learner at St Anthony’s Primary School in Heathfield, Cape Town, has a natural affinity for reading and languages, enabling him to fluently speak and read four languages at Grade 5 level: Sepedi, English, Afrikaans and Zulu.
A Kind Word in any Language
And not only does Keith have an impressive capacity for languages but also a pleasant disposition, and always ready to add a kind word — in any of those languages.
“Keith speaks freely, easily and very honestly to staff and learners alike. He is a beautiful child who regularly dishes out hugs whenever he sees you,” said Colleen Rustin, principal at St Anthony’s.
Keith, who joined St Anthony’s this year, passed Grade 1 in Zimbabwe last year. He initially joined the Grade 2 class at St Anthony’s, but Ms Rustin and his teachers felt he was battling with the pressure to keep up.
They decided that Keith, who turned six only this year, would be better suited for Grade 1, where he is excelling.
A Passion for Reading
His teacher, Nina Benjamin, said that on entering the classroom, Keith always sits down quietly and immediately takes out a book from which to read. She praised him for the passion he has for reading and encourages him to continue.
His sound set of values is largely due to the warm relationship he shares with his mother, single-parent Nosipho Ngwende, from Wynberg.
“She always spends time talking to him about his responses and his daily activities. She, too, is a warm soul,” Ms Rustin said.
“Keith has a habit of coming into the office and somehow he manages to politely and sweetly turn the conversation towards the treats cupboard. He was once rewarded with an Easter egg and has never forgotten that,” the principal said, adding: “The cupboard, unfortunately, doesn’t always open.”
Children like Keith motivate teachers. “It’s little beings like Keith who keep us buoyant and enthusiastic,” Ms Rustin said.