First steps at language love

Time to get started again!
Time to get started again!

Last week I told you to do the minimum for language love; don’t try so hard.

Today, I want to give you some resources for how to start. Basic. Nothing complicated.

First, though, you have to do your research. You have to go on your ecolinguistic exploratory expedition to find out what people are speaking around you. What do you hear spoken? What do you see on signs, not the formal ones, but the hand-written signs taped to light posts and pinned to bulletin boards?

Now you have your language(s). Let’s begin.
Why loving language

Practical tips for learning Somali in Minnesota, Part 1

This is what studying Somali looks like for me.
This is what studying Somali looks like for me.

Languages don’t require a book to learn. They only require a community. Books help when you don’t have people around, but when you meet people who speak your language, make the most of the encounter. Introduce yourself, tell them how much you love their language, and see if they can help you advance.

Let me explain how I learn Somali in Minnesota. Realize that I don’t live close to a Somali community, that is, I don’t run into Somalis on a daily basis. I have to drive intentionally to where I know Somalis frequent.

Memorization lies at the foundation of my Somali work. I read some books and articles just to glean vocabulary—individual words and phrases. I put them into my Anki deck, and I go through my deck every day at about 5am. I do it at that time because the day gets too busy otherwise and I forget.

When I get into Minneapolis, where the largest concentration of Somalis live, I take advantage of my visit.
Read about a recent “lesson”

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.

See what I accomplished!

Week 22 of Loving Somali: Inspiration extinguishes burnout

Inspiration pulled me out of burnout.
Inspiration pulled me out of burnout.

I’ve been listening to the “Actual Fluency Podcast,” hosted by the language-loving Dane, Chris Broholm, and a couple recent episodes helped me out tremendously. My language-learning energy has been flagging. I’ve been doing some exercises out of a book and daily vocabulary flashcards. I needed a boost, and the podcast inspired me to take the next step. Continue reading “Week 22 of Loving Somali: Inspiration extinguishes burnout”

Week 21 of Loving Somali: Urban Adventure

A helmet won't help on an urban adventure!
A helmet won’t help on an urban adventure!

Most people don’t think of Minneapolis as a place for urban adventure or international encounters, but this weekend I found both here.

I pulled up to the Somali Mall on Saturday morning, assuming I would find a place for sambusas, sweet chai, and Somali conversation. Shivering as I paid for street parking, I saw a head peek out of the door of “Safari Coffee.”

Read what happened next

Week 17 of Loving Somali: And…or…and…

I had no idea that conjunctions could be complicated.

Before that, though, I need to relate my big accomplishment this week…

Studying Somali means learning grammar and vocabulary while eating Sambuas
Studying Somali means learning grammar and vocabulary while eating Sambuas

My big accomplishment was on New Year’s Day. I went for tea and sambusas at the Somali restaurant in my my area. I spoke nearly the whole time in Somali. Continue reading “Week 17 of Loving Somali: And…or…and…”

Week 12 of Loving Somali: Living dangerously as a language misfit

Compelled to vulnerability, we excel.
Compelled to vulnerability, we misfits excel.

Writing this week’s post surprised me. My languages brought me into a mental space, I found out, where I recognized my need for “dangerous” language situations that potentially make me look stupid or annoying. Moreover, my strange, unique language love compels me into these fantastic experiences. I’m a language misfit, which leads me to connect with unexpected, unlikely people, resulting in great joy.

Continue reading “Week 12 of Loving Somali: Living dangerously as a language misfit”

Week 11 of loving Somali: Living the Polyglot Dream

Living the dream is time for celebration!
Living the dream is time for celebration!

I’m living the polyglot dream. This term was coined by Lucas Lampariello at his blog by the same name, and I mean by it that I managed to keep my love of language at the forefront of my mind and found many opportunities for and much joy in immersing myself in languages. While I set aside time this week to be sure I was working hard on Somali, I kept my ears open when I could speak or listen to other languages. I managed to engage Somali, Amharic, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, and Dutch.

Continue reading “Week 11 of loving Somali: Living the Polyglot Dream”

Week 6 of loving Somali: Reduplication and the kitchen

What does a kitchen in Somalia look like?
What does a kitchen in Somalia look like?

Moving deeper into Somali, I’m discovering more unique, beautiful features of this language. The way of life coupled with grammatical features continue to reveal how exciting this language is. Discovering new verb formations and glimpsing into a Somali kitchen excited my curiosity. At the same time, I think I’m getting exhausted by my rate of vocabulary study; I literally fell asleep on the couch last night with my Anki app. My brain is crying out for different stimuli.
Continue reading “Week 6 of loving Somali: Reduplication and the kitchen”

Week 4 of loving Somali: Joy, pumpkins, and goat meat

Do you look like a pumpkin? Is that a good thing?
Do you look like a pumpkin? Is that a good thing?

Studying Somali brings me joy. I love discovering this language. Granted, I’m like Christopher Columbus, “discovering” people who didn’t know they needed discovering; I’m not exactly a pioneer. Nevertheless, my “discoveries” bring my mind to a world that at least I didn’t know, coming in contact with people so much like me, yet from a life that is so different. The newness of contact envigorates me.

This week I didn’t study as much as I planned, but I still had the opportunity to see a new landscape. I learned about a market filled with mango, goat meat, and pumpkins. I also got to see new ways of ordering language, of expressing oneself. Maybe my dear readers would like to help me with some of the sticking points I came across this week? This never gets old for me!
Continue reading “Week 4 of loving Somali: Joy, pumpkins, and goat meat”