Do language-learning tips work for Oromo? I was surprised! (pt. 2)

What are the best ways to study Oromo?
What are the best ways to study Oromo?

Recently I’ve been talked to some folks about practical tips for learning less well-resourced languages. La Polyglotte works on finding on-line resources for African languages, and Lindsay Dow specializes in practical tips for language-learning. I’ve expressed to them that I have the feeling when I hear language-learning advice that won’t apply to the languages I’m learning.

But let me be honest now. I haven’t actually tried everything that people suggest.

So I decided to run an experiment. Shannon Kennedy authors a great blog as the Eurolinguiste, and she recently blogged on 30 5-minute language exercises. I wanted to test which of these suggestions would work for Oromo. I was surprised not only at how many of them apply, but I also gained insight into what sorts of tips are the most universal.

In this part 2 of this post, I analyzed the second 15. You can find the first 15 in part 1.
Find out what works

Do language-learning tips work for Oromo? I was surprised! (pt. 1)

If I run the numbers, will my feeling still hold true?
If I run the numbers, will my feeling still hold true?

Recently I’ve been talked to some folks about practical tips for learning less well-resourced languages. La Polyglotte works on finding on-line resources for African languages, and Lindsay Dow specializes in practical tips for language-learning. I’ve had the feeling when I hear language-learning advice that won’t apply to the languages I’m learning.

But let me be honest now. I haven’t actually tried everything that people suggest.

So I decided to run an experiment. Shannon Kennedy authors a great blog as the Eurolinguiste, and she recently blogged on 30 5-minute language exercises. I wanted to test which of these suggestions would work for Oromo. I was surprised not only at how many of them apply, but I also gained insight into what sorts of tips are the most universal.

For part 1 of this post, I analyzed the first 15. I’ll finish the last 15 in part 2, in my next post.
Find out what works

Spanish, Russian, and the light of language-learning

Learning languages enlighten and bring light
Learning languages enlightens and brings light

As you know, Somali is my main pursuit these days. But I realized that I don’t think about pursuing my other languages at this point as any actual progress. Yet I have spoken Spanish every day, since we have a monolingual Spanish speaker staying at our house.

While I believe everyone should learn languages, monolinguals teach me so much. When I have to speak to them, I gain vocabulary and grammar so quickly. Our exchange student’s mom is staying with us, and she only speaks Spanish. I speak Spanish every day now. Without spending any time memorizing vocabulary, certain words are just sticking just so that conversation can continue.

Spanish and others

You’re already learning languages like a baby (Don’t be fooled)

Babies have a language advantage: Cuteness!
Babies have a language advantage: Cuteness!

No language-learning program knows what it’s talking about when they say they can show you how to learn a language like a baby. There’s no other way.

My kids revealed the secrets of language-learning to me. I was teaching them Russian with they were between 4 and 7 years old. I spoke with them and they went to a Russian class for an hour per week.

I knew the difficulties of learning Russian, but I was fluent by that point, even having worked as an interpreter and translator. I had figured out the tricky parts of the grammar, but my kids’ grammar was hopeless. I didn’t know what to do.

I told their teacher that the kids always messed up verb conjugations and noun declensions, so that all verbs were second person and all feminine nouns were in the accusative. He smiled and said, “Yeah, kids always mess those up.”

I always messed those up, too!

Russian is just hard!

Learning sympathy on my linguistic journey

Invisible in a crowd. How do we make the invisible visible?
What does it feel like to be invisible, yet surrounded by people?

When my daughter was 12, she offended one of her friends, who decided to retaliate. “We will shun her,” the friend said to the rest of the group, putting her hand up in my daughter’s face. For the rest of the day, the group would not talk to my daughter. This invisibility brought tears to her eyes.

By learning the languages of the people around me, I strive to make those who are invisible, visible. The immigrants, the lower classes, the ones whom others don’t notice become the source of my learning, so I have to see them; better, I have to look for them.

In a recent encounter, the tables were turned. I became invisible among those who are normally invisible. On this “ecolinguistic expedition” to scout the linguistic ecosystem of my community, I felt the invisibility that many folks in my community feel every day. My white, majority power pulled me out of that state in a way that they can’t, but I learned some sympathy that day.
Feeling invisible

Week 29 of Loving Somali: More fruit, thanks to the labor of me and others

Speaking your language in a cafe can really pay off!
Speaking your language in a cafe can really pay off!

Persistence paid off. Please forgive the cliche, but I’ve been trying to manifest in the past several posts—at least to myself—the progress I’ve been able to make over many months. This week I:

  • found a local teacher;
  • carried on a decent conversation;
  • dedicated some time every day to study; and
  • won a Somali grammar contest.

An additional truth came to me this week: I can’t do this alone. If it weren’t for my on-line tutor and my new conversation partner—not to mention my friends at work—my progress would be even slower than it is. I’m very grateful for these supporters I have.
Read how I did it

Week 28 of Loving Somali: Looking honestly at progress

Take a better look--your happiness may surprise your!
Take a better look–your happiness may surprise your!

My life is wonderful, yet sometimes I imagine I’m supposed to be living a different life than the one I’m living. At those moments, I get overwhelmed by so many things, find I’m not letting myself sleep enough, and feel down. Languages are my passion, but they’re not everything in my life, or even the best part of my life. They make me feel alive and happy. The moment they no longer make me feel good reminds me to take a step back and look at the totality of my life and remember how wonderful my life is. What am I really doing in my life? What progress am I actually making in my language?
The reality of my life

Week 27 of Loving Somali: Bliu Bliu and comprehensible input

Artificial intelligence solves an intermediate learning problem
Artificial intelligence solves an intermediate learning problem

My learning Somali hits some difficult spots, similar to when I was learning Farsi. The problem is intermediate language learning. I’ve discussed this with multiple polyglots and language-learning companies. I even posted about it here, here, and here. What do I do when I have learned most of the grammar and acquired a decent amount of vocabulary, but cannot understand basic articles or podcasts aimed at native speakers? This week, I discovered a fantastic way out: Bliu Bliu. And they even work with Somali!

See what I learned

Week 25 of Loving Somali: Sharing language love

Curiosity of language is shared by many of us
Curiosity of language is shared by many of us across languages and cultures

This week a Somali friend of mine at work was willing to help me with my Somali. I know my questions are unintuitive to native speakers, so I feel uncomfortable imposing sometimes. I was so grateful when he accepted my invitation to lunch. I learned a ton about grammar and relations among words, and he made me feel very comfortable, and even said that he enjoyed forcing himself to think about this language on a deep, detailed level. We were able to spend a nice time admiring and loving the Somali language together.

Continue reading “Week 25 of Loving Somali: Sharing language love”

Week 23 of Loving Somali: Have more fun!

Don't overanalyze...have some fun!
Don’t overanalyze…have some fun!

I tend to be pretty “thinky.” Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I can analyze a situation to the smallest detail until someone makes me stop. At the same time, I tend to overlook or even downplay the important emotional experience in the moment. I have friends who are very empathetic, who are always picking up on the emotions of the room. I’ve learned a lot from these friends about a blind spot of mine.

While this week I didn’t get a lot more done on Somali than usual, I had more fun. A less thinky week. I read aloud my dialogue and I turned to some news sites. I also found some new resources that got me excited. I want to experience fully the excitement, wonder, and discovery of this week, even though I may not speak great Somali compared to last week. I made new connections and enjoyed bursts of delight. Continue reading “Week 23 of Loving Somali: Have more fun!”