It was one year ago that I started my Hawaiian adventure. I must say it has been an enormously fruitful time, during which I’ve learnt a lot. And no, I’m not talking about the Hawaiian language right now, although I have managed to master a few words, phrases, and grammar rules. So what exactly do I have in mind?
Whenever you learn a foreign tongue, you learn a lot about … learning.
Learning anything is a process; usually a rather long one. It would be terrific if we were able to just put a book under the pillow, go to sleep, and wake up with all the knowledge we need. Then I guess every single person in this world would be a polyglot! But, the sad fact is, if we want to achieve our goals, we have to work hard for that. And that’s fine, as long as you have help. Cause when you don’t, you need to work twice as hard.
I actually know very well what I’m talking about. As a learner of not only Hawaiian but also Marshallese and Kiribati, I have experienced – not once, may I add – great frustration because I wasn’t able to find the answers to the questions that kept bothering me. I had to figure out myself how to form a particular sentence, I had to search for clues, I had to make tons of mistakes – because I was “alone”. I still am “alone”, which means I don’t have a teacher; or rather teachers in my case.
If you don’t have a teacher – more precisely, a human being who can guide you – you have to rely on what’s available. Books, Internet, apps quickly become your best friends. Now, it is said that it’s better to have one good friend than a hundred bad ones. True. Only sometimes a single friend is simply not enough.
I’m learning Marshallese, and I have three books. There are virtually no other resources available – no apps, no online courses, no helpful websites. Occasionally, I’m able to find something on YouTube.
Learning Kiribati is even more difficult. I’m in possession of two textbooks. And that’s all. Even uncle Google – and we all know he’s a very smart guy – can’t really help me. So as you can imagine, that makes my learning experience pretty challenging.
That’s why I am extremely happy that at least learning Hawaiian is a tad easier. I’m a proud owner of two books (there are a few more on the market); I have two apps installed on my phone; and whenever I need it, I can ask my favourite uncle Google for more information. You have no idea what a difference it makes to have so many resources available.
My main source of knowledge is the textbook I’m currently using, “Ka Lei Haʻaheo”. It’s absolutely fantastic. I can already say that it is more “advanced” than the book I started with (“Learn Hawaiian At Home”). It explains everything in more detail, so I am quite sure that my Hawaiian will get better and better with every week.
In addition to the textbook, I’m taking advantage of two language learning apps: Duolingo and Drops.
The former was my app of choice at the beginning of my adventure. We didn’t get along, so I quit it after three months. But somewhere in November I came back to it. I wanted to see if I’d made any progress. It turned out I had! I was overjoyed, and I decided I would continue using it. I never thought I would say that, but thanks to this app I can practice what I have learnt, and – sometimes – even pick up a new word or phrase. I treat Duolingo as an “exercise book”, if you will. I do not rely on it, but I appreciate its existence.
The second app, Drops, is my “vocabulary teacher”. I love it. For five minutes a day I learn new words as well as review the ones I already know. It has helped me a lot. You may think three hundred seconds is not enough. Believe me, it’s more than enough! The words somehow stay in my head – just like that. There’s no doubt that the app does what it promises. Give me a few months and I might know more words in Hawaiian than in Marshallese!