Here are 5 tips for those who want to learn Tongan as a foreign language or those wanting to improve their language skills. Learning Tongan does not have to be a chore. Follow these tips, and you will soon discover a beautiful rich language and culture.
Immerse yourself. Ideally spending a good six months in the Kingdom would be the best place to learn Tongan. Otherwise immerse yourself within your local community (family, church, online) and simply LISTEN. Fanongo kihe u ngaahi lea. Listen to the sounds all around. With your family, at church, songs played on radio, programs on tv, or youtube. Listen for the sounds, the tone, the reflections in their voices.
Imitate. Remember how children first learn to speak. They copy the sounds they hear. Ma-ma, Te-Ti (Mum, Dad) are usually the first words they speak.
Know key phrases. ‘Ikai mahino – I don’t understand. Koe ha ‘ae lea fakaTonga ki he … ? What is the Tongan word for …? Know some key phrases and words will help you learn quicker.
- Be a student. Take notes and ask questions. Be inquisitive like a child. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. That is all part of the learning process.
- Have FUN. Learning anything new is always easier when there is some fun involved.