Week 26 of Loving Somali: What does a half-year of progress look like?

A six-month victory to celebrate!
A six-month victory to celebrate!

I realized that this week marks six months of learning Somali for me. A couple years ago, I learned from some friends a few phrases that we used often, but I wasn’t learning any grammar or vocabulary regularly. A half-year ago, though, I started getting more serious. Focusing on Somali has been difficult, but looking back I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made. I live a busy life, so I can’t dedicate large chunks to language-study. As a result, I learned what I can accomplish in 6 months.

Are you a busy professional with a full social and domestic life? Do you have lots of demands on you from your home and community? That’s my life. I hope that this list shows what you too can accomplish, even with a busy life.

  1. I got a language tutor. I am grateful that a very knowledgable Somali grammarian volunteered to help me out with my Somali. He has answered all my questions, corrected my work, and encouraged my continuing progress.
  2. My Anki flashcard deck is up to about 700 words. I’ve reviewed words very consistently. About 3/4 are in the long-term memory category.
  3. I visited the coffee shops about three times. I was hoping to do this more often, but the times that I went were very productive.
  4. I produced two dialogues. I have some older ones I wrote a couple years ago, too. I would like to create some actual language-learning materials out of these.
  5. I translated two news articles. This recent activity sped up and intensified my learning. Most importantly, I’m forced to deal with all sorts of real life grammar. The questions this raises has produced helpful discussions with my tutor and intense interrogation of my grammar book.
  6. I got through about nine lessons in La soco af soomaaliga and six lessons in Colloquial Somali. These books really helped get me off the ground. I’m not so far off the ground yet, but I got good basics from both. When I run into a problem in translating, I need good reference works, and these help.
  7. I participated in Somali community life. Maybe I should say “observed” rather than “participated.” I went to my first Somali funeral, which was moving, as it showed me how much the Somali and other communities here in Minnesota actually participate in one another. I also learned about Somali music through YouTube, and I learned to love Aar Maanta.
  8. I produced a list of Somali language resources. Please find my new page on Somali resources that will help your Somali language-learning and that I happen to like and use.

To be honest, I still have mixed feelings. I accomplished a lot. Am I fluent, though? Far from it. Can I understand a news podcast? No. A conversation at normal rate of speech? No. These realities can be frustrating. Yet, when I look at the reality of the accomplishments I made, above, I feel heartened.

In the next six months I’d like to accomplish the following:

  1. Produce Somali videos of myself.Some of my Somali friends on-line have encouraged me to produce some Somali videos for a YouTube channel. I hope to add that to my repertoire.
  2. Produce some learning materials from my dialogues. I need some native-speaking Somali volunteers who can record themselves with a high-quality microphone. I think I can do the rest.
  3. Continue the good stuff. Continued vocabulary practice and translation will keep me going. If I can make it to the coffee shops more, that would be ideal.

How is your language-learning going? What have you accomplished these past few months?

Photo credit: Lotus Carroll / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


9 thoughts on “Week 26 of Loving Somali: What does a half-year of progress look like?

  1. Great article friend. Great to see your progress and to see you encouraging others who may have a “busy” life, that they still can enrich their life by learning about other cultures and languages right around them. The list of resources is also great (I’m a big fan or Aar Maanta as well.
    Here is a list I produced for a language class I taught for a Somali NGO out here in Seattle (its on their website) which may interest you and your readers: http://www.somalicsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Somali-Language-Learning-Resource-List-2013-14.pdf
    Also here is a link to a very valuable online Somali resource page, connected with Indiana University, which has the Institute for Folklore Studies where John Johnson (a Somali lit. expert) teaches.

    Click to access Somali-Language-Learning-Resource-List-2013-14.pdf

    Hope these are helpful, even though the specific info on mine is a bit dated – but it does give a kind of annotated bibliography of Somali language learning resources.

    Liked by 1 person

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