Foʻilea ‘oe Uike’: Ako

Mālō e lelei! To encourage the use of the Tongan language we are posting a word of the week that can be used with children or beginners. 

Ako (ah-koh) is a wonderful word in Tongan. It is the word for learning. It is also the word for teaching. In our culture, ako is about the collective sharing of knowledge, mutual learning. It is one word that can be used to describe all types of learning. To learn, to teach, to master, to practice, to study, to teach oneself: self-education.

  1. Naʻa ne ʻalu ʻo ako. He/She went to school.
  2. Tau ‘alu ki he ako faiva’.  Let’s go to the dance practice.

Tu’a ‘ofa atu Hema


Know your Tongan: ki (v) kia

Here is the first of our Thursday Grammar. Do you know the difference between the two words “ki” and “kia”?  Both mean the same English preposition word “to”.

Thurs grammar

Read carefully the information above and fill in the blanks.

Is it “ki” or “kia”?

  1. ‘Ave _____ Sione. Give it to John.
  2. Na’a’ ke lea _____ Mele? Did you talk to Mary?
  3. ‘Alu ____ he falekoloa’ Go to the shop.
  4. Na’a’ ke falala _____ Tomasi? Did you trust Thomas?
  5. Foki ____ ‘api. Return home.
  6. Sio  ____ he faiako’. Look at the teacher.

Hope this helps you. Leave a comment and share with those who do not know the difference.

Tu’a ‘ofa atu Hema

Is it Taimi’ni or Taini’mi?

taimini MEME

This is another of my internal questions that has lingered in my head regarding the Tongan language. I have always used Taimi’ ni which means at this moment in time/ right now. Then I started to hear people say Taini’ mi, so are you saying it right or not.

It has been confirmed by Tongan linguists so you can be rest assured, the correct term is Taimi’ ni.  The Tongan version of time (taimi) is used with (ni) an enclitic word, joining together to pronounce it as one word with the fakau’a (glottal stop) TAIMI’ NI.

Tu’a ‘ofa atu Hema


Kuo u loto fiefia ke ‘oatu ‘a e keimi ko eni ma’amoutolu ke mou ngaue’aki ke tokoni ke langa’i ‘etau lea fakafonua’.

So excited to offer my first free printable game for you all. I created this game for my class to have some fun speaking in Tongan. There are 80 sightwords of the most commom words used in my classroom. Please share this post and give me some feedback here, on letslearntongan facebook and or twitter page @letslearntongan.

DOWNLOAD THIS GAME AT THE END OF THIS POST.image 1. Download and print all the pages. Make sure that the one-sided print setting is on. You can also laminate the pages for durability. image

2. To play the game you need the sightwords, a die, markers and binderclips. Read the second page for directions and how to make the Pacman markers.image 3. You are ready to play. Make sure to keep things fun. It’s not about finishing first but the one who collects the most cards by speaking. Say the word correctly and you keep the card. image 4. Remember the goal for players is to speak in Tongan. You can vary the game in many ways depending on their ability. If you’re a parent and a native speak get involved and play as well.

  • Pronounce the word correctly. The following can be added as well for more advanced speakers in order to keep their card.
  • Spell the word.
  • Define the word.
  • Say a rhyming word (does not need to be a word.)
  • Use the word in a sentence.
  • Say a synonym for the word.
  • Say an antonym for the word (Some words may not have an opposite word).


Sunday School questions: Fehu‘i mo e tali

One of the few memories I have of Sunday school back in the Kingdom is the fehu’i mo e tali that kids learn at Siasi Tonga Tau’ataina. I loved hearing it because the answers were always said back in a tune chant like manner which made it easy for kids to learn off by heart. Here are some of the first basic questions that all the children learn at Sunday School about God. I often out of the blue ask these simple questions of my kids as a reminder of Gods presence and love for them. And always good to practise as much Tongan as possible with them. These are also great basic questions that you can use to build your vocabulary and ask other questions.

Who made you? God.
Who made you? God.
Who is God? Our Father in Heavan.
Who is God? Our Father in Heavan.
Where is God? He is everywhere.
Where is God? He is everywhere.
Does God love you? Yes, he loves all things he created
Does God love you? Yes, he loves all things he created


A Royal visit: 3 lessons to learn

Royal visit to Tongan Language School


On the 15th of March, I as a student and a parent of two joined the Tongan Language School here in Sydney to welcom the daughter of King Tupou VI, Princess Angelika Lātūpfuipeka to our School.  So what! What is all the fuss about you say? Well 3 Tongan words sum up the significance of this occasion and the lessons I would share with my children.

  1. Faka’apa’apa = (Respect)
  2. Fakalāngilangi (to honour)
  3. ‘Ilo (knowledge)  or Taumu’a ke ‘ilo (Inspire to learn)

I want my kids to live a life of respect. We may not see the Princess every day but we can show respect to our parents, our siblings, our fahu, teachers and  elders. Sitting on the mat was one way the children were showing their respect for the Princess.

I want my children to show respect and honor in order to receive it. The highest honor the Tongan Language School could give the Princess is the ‘ilokava (royal kava ceremony). And in honoring her, I was also honored to take part in the Royal kava circle. As a woman and a commoner to take part and to use my family matapule name was like having a title bestowed upon me and having my mother and all my ancestors sitting there with me.

To have the knowledge of why things are done like the kava ceremony and the origin of the fuakava (the first kava) connects me to my language, my family and my roots and seeing the ‘ilokava happen before my eyes was a surreal moment in my life.

Whether it be a royal visit or a family gathering or funeral, we can show respect, we can honor and we can learn at the same time. In this modern world, where respect is fading fast, the Tongan culture of respect and family makes more sense than the celebrity all-about-me culture. I want them to aspire more to the Tongan culture rather than the celebrity culture.

Himi 391: ‘Oku ai ha ki’i fonua lyrics

One of my favourite hymns. It tells the story of a little island in the ocean which did not know God and was not blessed (so say the missionaries), but has many blessings now because Tupou I gave his nation to God.

‘Oku ai ha ki’i fonua
‘Oku tu’u ‘i ‘Oseni.
Na’e ‘ikai ke ma’u ‘Otua,
Na’e masiva he lelei.
Haleluia! Kuo monū’ia eni.

Tama Tonga, tu’u ‘o ngāue,
Ho koloa ke fakamonū.
Lotu ki he ‘Eiki ma’u pē,
Ke ne poupou ki he lotu
‘O malu’i,
‘O malu’i ‘a Tupou

There is a small Island
that stands in the Ocean.
It  did not have God,
They were poor in goodness.
Hallelujah! They are now blessed.

Tongan man, stand and work,
your treasure must be expressed.
Pray to the Lord always,
for his support in prayer
To protect,
To protect Tupou.

Tongan bible verse: Mātiu 7:7-8

Matthew 7:7
Matthew 7:7

A great tip to learning Tongan is comparing bible passages in English & Tongan. Kids learn Tongan by reciting bible verses and hymns durnig Faka-Mē or White Sunday in May which is a great way to pick up vocabulary. Here is a visual of a well known bible passage Matthew 7:7-8. Simply compare the verse and recite by heart and you will add to your vocabulary. For more Tongan bible passages share and let me know you like them. 

  • Kole = Ask
  • Kumi = Seek/ find
  • Tukituki = Knock

Talamonū: Tongan Christmas Greetings

Talamonū: Christmas Greetings

‘Oku ‘oatu ‘ae popoaki talamonū faka kilisimasi ko eni kiate kimoutolu kotoa pe ʻi he tapa ʻo e koloape. ‘Ofa ke mou ma’u ha Kilisimasi fiefia mo faka’ofo’ofa ‘o hangē ko ho’omou feitu’u faka’ofo’ofa pea tauange ke tau ‘inasi ‘i he fiefia tatau ʻi hono fakamanatua ‘o e ‘aho ‘Alo’i.

‘Ofa lahi atu meiate au Hema Fifita mo ʻeku siʻi famili masiva

Tongan hymn: Te u hiki ‘a hoku le’o lyrics

Beautiful songs need to be shared. Sing-a-long. There is always a lot more appreciation when you know the words and the meaning behind it. Blessed Sunday to you all.

1. Te u hiki ‘a hoku le‘o – I will raise my voice up high
Ke fai ‘atu ‘a e fakamālō – To give you thanks
Lea pē ‘eku hiva’ – The only words of my song are
Mālō Sīsū ‘a ho’o ‘ofa – thank you Jesus for you love/ kindness
2. ‘Alu ai ‘eku manatu – My memories wonders to
Sīsū he ‘aho’ na’a’ke ui ai au – that day that you called me Jesus
Talu ai ‘eku fakapapau – Since then I have decided for Christ
Ko au eni ‘eiki fai mai ha‘o fekau – Here I am Lord give me your bidding
3. Pehe ange mai ‘e au, ‘oku malava – I wish that it be possible
Ka ‘oku ‘ikai ha lea ia ‘e fe‘unga – but there are no words enough
Ke tala atu Sīsū ‘oku hounga – to tell you Jesus I appreciate
‘A e ‘ofa’ kuo u ‘a‘usia – the love I have come to know

{toe hiva mai mei mu’a – repeat from beginning}