An important feature about our Tongan culture is our value of Tauhi vā (keeping our relations close). However as our extended families grow and move further away it does get harder to keep in touch. It is important to take advantage of the times that families do get together to bond and keep those family ties strong. So here is a great game to connect reminisce and laugh and will defintely bring all generations closer by sharing stories.
We gathered for Fathers day and played this last night and there was plenty of laughter and emotional tears at times reminiscing of loved ones not here. And the best part of it all was the younger generation who were glued to their seats listening to all the stories rather than in their rooms on the devices. So when you have a captive audience take advantage of it and tell them all the stories of life in Tonga, explain cultural concepts behind the stories you share.
The saying “sai ke tau ʻilo” is a typical saying you will hear often meaning ʻgood to know’ often said in a somewhat sarcastic way.
GUIDE TO PLAY: SAI KE TAU ʻILO
- Gather the family around.
- You have to share a story that perhaps no one knows or only a few people know of. It can be of your childhood, a memory of your parents, grandparents. Memories of life in Tonga. A story of a current or past life challenge and how you overcame it.
- If a quarter of the family eg 3 people already know the story they will call out “sai ke tau ʻilo” then you must share another story.
- Good for you to start off the game to show the others how it is played.
- Ensure that everyone shares a story big or small. May take a few rounds for the quiet ones to share but thats ok.
- Taimi vaʻinga ē (Time to play!)
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”.
Read carefully the information above and fill in the blanks.
Is it “ki” or “kia”?
- ‘Ave _____ Sione. Give it to John.
- Na’a’ ke lea _____ Mele? Did you talk to Mary?
- ‘Alu ____ he falekoloa’ Go to the shop.
- Na’a’ ke falala _____ Tomasi? Did you trust Thomas?
- Foki ____ ‘api. Return home.
- 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
At this time of year I like to remind myself and all the entire Tongan Language School of how much they have achieved in 2015. So I created this video. Kids always love to see themselves in videos. I then challenged my family to write down their new goals. Amongst our new family goals is to speak more in Tongan. To consciously catch ourselves when we speak in English. To make more opportunities to use our language. What one Tongan word will describe 2016 for you? Will it be ako (learn, learning). For me it will be the word “va’inga” (play). To be more playful, to incorporate more play-based learning into my lessons. 2016 will be a year to play.
‘Ofa ke mou ma’u ha ta’u fo’ou fiefia.
Tu’a ‘ofa atu Hema
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
Life is such a battle for many. No matter what communities we live in rich or poor we all have our own challenges. Growing up there are several words or phrases you constantly hear from your parents, grandparents and Tongan society.
- Ko e fonua masiva (Tonga is a poor country).
- Ako ke lahi. Study hard.
- Lotu ke lahi. Pray diligently.
But unlike the teens here at Roosevelt High, we had role models to look up to, expectations of our parents and the prayers of our grandparents that we build our families, communities and contribute back. But what of those kids featured on this clip. How many kids are out there with no support. Who have lost there way, feel disconnected or have no sense of purpose. All I can say is pray and be prepared. Don’t say no to the opportunities that come a knocking, give it a try. That is all we can do in life. We do not have to be confined to the stereotypes society tells us will be our future. Watching this clip reminds me of one of my favourite hymn verses, we all have worth we must stand up and be counted and with support of people like Coach we can value, encourage and protect that treasure.
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 ‘a Tupou
Tongan man, stand up and work,
your treasure must be expressed.
Pray to the Lord always,
for his support in prayer
To protect Tupou.
Click to hear Hymn 391
I read a great article on Multilingual living and decided to put together a TOP 5 REAONS why your children are not speaking in Tongan. In my own experience with my children these are the 5 top reasons why they were not speaking in Tongan. So you want your children to speak in Tongan but you are finding it very challenging. Consider these 5 reasons as to why or what is holding your child back. Same reasons here apply to anyone learning the Tongan language not just children.
1. Ongo fiemālie (Feel comfortable):
Do your children feel comfortable to speak the language? Are they continually getting told off to speak in Tongan by you the parent or grandparents? Do they get ridiculed for their speaking or lack of speaking abilities at school, by friends, at church. You need to encourage them and make them feel comfortable and it starts at home. As an example, I tried to give them positive experiences by reading the English bedtime stories in Tongan. I would also make my kids laugh with silly songs I made up for them.
2. Ngaahi tohi mo e naunau he lea faka-Tonga (Resources)
Do they have access to a wide range of learning materials in the Tongan language. This will continue to be a problem as there are no (in my opinion) interesting books or learning material in the Tongan language for children. Keep an eye out for the ebook (The Hungry little mouse) coming out soon on youtube.
3. ʻOku fakahā kita? (Exposure)
Are your children being exposed enough to the Tongan language. There may not be enough reading resources for children but they can listen to the language. There are plenty of digital radio programmes, Tongan songs and Tongan news all on youtube. While youʼre doing chores at home, play it in the background.
4. ʻOku fakalata? (Is it enjoyable?)
Is speaking in Tongan enjoyable for your children. Do they find it interesting or difficult and boring? Play games using the Tongan language will help make it enjoyable. Play cards, find items around the house, sing songs.
5. ʻOku i ai ha fiemaʻu? (Is there a need?)
Is there a need for them to speak in Tongan. Do they have grandparents or parents that can speak to Tongan to them? Are they part of a Tongan speaking Congregation? Are they in a language class that they need to speak in Tongan? Will they be visiting Tonga anytime soon? If they see no apparent need to learn they will find it more difficult.
Did you find this useful? let me know.
Ko e fehu’i mālie eni ‘a Alando Soakai. A very interesting question by Alando Soakai.
Have you been called ‘plastic’ because you speak more English than your native tongue?
Other terms used to address you and your identity for not speaking the language is a pālangi (foreigner) or fie pālangi (want to be a foreigner). Considering there are more Tongans living outside the Kingdom is plastic the new norm? Great article into his own experience which I know many can relate to. Click on the link to check it out. Is ‘plastic’ the new norm?.
I’m currently travelling in America and the general comments I have been getting from the old folks have been the same everywhere I go.
- They are happy to hear my children understand and speak in Tongan
- They are happy to hear a mother speak in Tongan to their children
- Their comments include “Vaivai ‘a ‘Amelika” America fails when it comes to passing on the language.That their own children understand little of the language.
But is it really only America with this problem? I think the problem is everywhere. Parents and grandparents and the community need to make the Tongan language a priority. Loose the language and you lose the culture and ones identity.