If you want to start learning one of the Pacific languages, finding a textbook – not to mention a good textbook – is the hardest thing to do. When there are virtually no resources available, you have to get by with what you have managed to find. Fortunately, if you are thinking of learning Hawaiian, there are a few books that may help you. “Learn Hawaiian At Home” is one of them.
The book is easily obtainable online, which may be very important for people living outside the United States. It is a wonderful introduction to ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, so those fascinated by the language will surely find it not only immensely interesting but also extremely useful.
Although the publication is not extensive in length (it has only 168 pages), it provides a great deal of information for beginner students. Each of the book’s seven chapters (Greetings, Descriptive Sentence Pattern, ʻO Wai Sentence Pattern, He aha Sentence Pattern, Action Sentences, Aia Sentence Patterns, and ʻO identification sentence) is divided into smaller sections: Oral Work Section (with Hakalama pronunciation chart and vocabulary), Useful Phrases, Dialogs, Grammar Section, and Oral Review and Practice Section (with Substitution Drills, Picture Practice, Listen and Learn, and Mele).
The chapters, which are embellished with black and white illustrations, are about 10-, 15-pages long. They contain, apart from clear and concise explanations, a lot of written and spoken exercises that let students test their knowledge. There is also an answer key for self-check, as well as Hawaiian-English and English-Hawaiian Glossaries.
At the very beginning of the book you can find a comprehensive introduction with tips on how to study and how to use the volume. At the end, there is a conclusion with further reading lists.
The book includes two CDs to assist students with pronunciation.
Ease of use
“Learn Hawaiian At Home” is a dream come true for every student starting their language learning adventure. The book is brief and not everything is thoroughly explained, nevertheless it has all the knowledge one needs at the beginner’s level.
The chapters are well structured and coherent, and can be easily broken down into smaller chunks. You don’t have to study everything all at once – you can take your time. Even if you have only a few minutes a day to learn, you will manage to do “something” – memorize a new word, work on your pronunciation, do one exercise.
The grammar rules are explained as simply as possible. The most important things are highlighted in bold type, so you can immediately spot them when you want to revise the material. The first lesson teaches you the very basics. The next chapters gradually increase in difficulty, showing you how to create simple sentences. But the most important is that theory is always followed by practice. A good number of assorted exercises, which are well thought out and very engaging, ensure that you won’t forget what you have learnt. And you don’t even need a teacher to correct your mistakes. You can do it yourself!
Would I recommend it?
Yes, yes, and one more time yes! This is a truly fantastic book for home study. It’s user friendly, reasonably priced, and most of all – filled to the brim with linguistic knowledge. It is also fun to work with, as it is not focused solely on the Hawaiian language. Thanks to the “Listen and Learn” sections, you can familiarize yourself with the islands and get to know the local culture. Plus, you can listen to some island music! Every chapter ends with a “Mele” (song), which gives you a chance to “taste” Hawaii. My only regret is that the songs are not translated into English. You have to guess the meaning of the lyrics, and you never know if you got it right.
I will be honest with you, I wish the book was twice as long. Or was followed by a second volume with more advanced grammar. Because this title gives you basics and nothing more. If you are a diligent student, you should be able to carry on an uncomplicated conversation after you have gone through all the seven chapters – at least this is the author’s promise. And I believe her. But I would want to take a step further. To do that, I will have to find another book. It’s a pity, because Kahikāhealani Wight is a fabulous teacher!