MARSHALLESE 24.0: LEARNING FROM YOUTUBE

Some time ago – when it was raining heavily, and I had nothing to do (that doesn’t happen very often) – I decided to see if there were any (interesting) Marshallese YouTube channels. We all watch YouTube nowadays – if you’re saying you don’t, you are probably lying – so I thought that it would be fun and educating to start following people who might help me improve my Marshallese skills.

It is widely believed that on YouTube you can find everything. I’m not so sure about that. I would say that you can find a lot, yes. But everything? I wouldn’t be so optimistic.

Anyway, I started my search by typing in “Marshallese language” in the search box. What I got was a mixed bunch of various videos on the Marshall Islands or Kajin Ṃajeḷ: Marshallese language lessons (which I know very well and have found extremely helpful ever since I started my learning adventure), tips from LDS Church missionaries, a full-length film, stories on climate change, some vlogs and other random videos created I don’t really know why (no judgement here!).

I was somewhat disappointed, so I tried typing in “Marshallese channels” instead. I wanted to find YouTubers who provide valuable content and not some 30-second videos about nothing at all. The results showed two channels I got interested in. The first one was Marshallese MUA and the second – Angie Désir.

I am not the biggest YouTube fan ever, but I admit that the website can be useful. I follow a few YouTubers, I enjoy being engaged in what they show, but other than that – YouTube is not my cup of tea. I don’t really care about beauty or clothes hauls, I am not particularly interested in other people’s daily routines and I don’t have to attend their “get ready with me”. And what happened? First video I clicked on was a make-up tutorial by Marshallese MUA. A make-up tutorial! That’s something I never watch; I consider it a complete waste of time (even though I do wear make-up on a daily basis). Thank goodness, it wasn’t your ordinary make-up tutorial; it was a Marshallese language make-up tutorial! I was ecstatic. I thought that I would finally have a chance to listen to someone speaking Kajin Ṃajeḷ. So I listened. And listened. And listened. And I didn’t understand a thing. Ok, I’m exaggerating a little bit. I did understand a few words and phrases, but not as many as I would like. The English subtitles definitely helped, but I was still lost. That’s why I decided to try my luck with the other channel.

Angie Désir’s Marshallese style Q&A captivated me. I literally couldn’t stop watching it. That lady has a kind of magnetism that makes you glued to your computer screen. That’s first. Second, she seems like a genuinely nice and kind person. Third, in that Q&A video she spoke a little Marshallese, and I actually understood what she was saying! What a joy, right? Well, for me it was a great joy.

I think that if you are learning a foreign language – any foreign language – the slightest success has you over the moon. You feel proud whenever you manage to pronounce a word properly; or create a sentence; or understand someone saying “Good morning”. Small things; but oh-so important for us learners.

I am extremely happy that on that rainy day I found those YouTube channels. Since then, I have made even more discoveries, the most appealing of which was Jasmine Henry. She is a YouTuber from Australia, I believe, who vlogs a lot. Quite a few of her videos are from the Marshall Islands, so as a bonus I got to see what life in that Micronesian country looks like. Thanks to her, Marshallese MUA, and Angie Désir I could – and still can – listen to the sound of Kajin Ṃajeḷ. And I will tell you one thing – I love that sound! Marshallese is a really beautiful language. It is incredibly melodious. It takes some getting used to, sure, but it is entrancing.

And people all over the world still prefer French… The most attractive language… The language of love… I guess they have never heard Marshallese!


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