|Our family has been practicing basically Kiswahili words and phrases a little bit everyday, in one form or another|
How are we learning, and how are we making it fun for the kids? Here are our tips for learning basic Kiswahili words and phrases:
- Get a good pocket guide to take with you. We love the Lonely Planet books – they are pocket-sized and are travel-focused so you don’t get overwhelmed trying to find things while on-the-go. For this trip, we picked up the Lonely Planet Swahili Phrasebook and Dictionary from Amazon (disclosure: this is an affiliate link, which means I receive commission from Amazon if you make a purchase using the link).
- Watch YouTube videos. This is such a good way to learn pieces of other languages, since you can hear the pronunciation and intonation. One thing I have noticed with Kiswahili in particular is that it’s not difficult to pronounce (the rules for vowels are much more simple than in English). However, the way different syllables within words, and words within sentences are accentuated is different than I would expect by reading it alone. We have found a great series of YouTube videos by SwahiliPod101 that has about eight different three-minute lessons. The family has been watching at least a few of them nightly and practicing along to reinforce our learning through repetition. Our favorite lessons are Self Introductions, Greetings, Kenyan Manners, Making Apologies, and Do You Speak English.
- Buy Swahili children’s books. Now, you would think that we did this just for the kids, but actually, we did this purposefully for our whole family to learn. Of course we knew that a children’s book would be engaging for the kids, so that was a bonus way to make this fun for them. Though we also figured that these books generally teach you very foundational words and phrases in an easy-to-digest way. Seeing as how we all learned our native language as babies and children, often with the help of vocabulary books, why not consider starting this way for learning a new language as an adult too? A few good ones that we found are Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book and Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book from Amazon (disclosure: these are affiliate links, which means I receive commission from Amazon if you make a purchase using the links). They also teach you a bit about East African culture as well, which is great for all of us.
- Practice together, as much as possible. Anyone who’s ever tried to learn another language (either partially or completely) knows that it is impossible to truly learn the language, or retain what you’ve learned, without conversational practice. Our family still has a ways to go here, but for now we are practicing by incorporating “thank you” (“asante” or “asante sana”) and “you’re welcome” (“karibu” or “kamwe”), “hello” (“habari” or “shikamoo”), “good bye” (“kwaheri” or “tuonane tena”), and “sorry” (“samahani” or “niwie radhi”) into our everyday family conversation. We are also trying to incorporate some numbers.
I tell you, I glowed with pride when my youngest at a restaurant recently, unprompted, told the server “Asanta sana! That’s Swahili. We are going to Kenya.” Insert heart-eyes emoji.
|Reading fun while also learning some foundational words in Kiswahili|
What tips do you have for learning parts of a new language? Have you found any tips that are especially helpful for children?