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.
I heard on the radio this morning that it was International mother language day. A day that has been celebrated by the UNESCO since 1999. This yearʻs theme is “access to books and digital media in local languages”. How fitting it is, as the whole premise of this blog is to celebrate and promote the Tongan language.
The importance of written materials in the Tongan language.
The use of the Tongan language in the home environment and in schools will not thrive without supporting the development of written resources like books, textbooks, and written material to support oral activities. Thankfully there are linguist and educators like Dr Tēvita ‘Ō. Ka‘ili and Brian Dawson who have helped immensely in developing the Tongan language through orthography (the spelling system of a language).
If you have any Tongan language books or resources that you have produced or know of any, please contact us as we are happy to promote it here.
To download Tongan language keyboard by Brian Dawson, Click here. It is free. If you find it useful drop Brian a line and tell him so. Even further support his work and donate.
Kidʻs love to receive notes. Even better when it is a surprise. Try writing a note in Tongan and leave it in your kids lunch box if they are old enough to read. As you incorporate more Tongan words into your childrenʼ vocabulary and/ or yourself, they will soon learn to love speaking in Tongan. You could expand this to suit your circumstance. The possibilities are endless.
The picture above was a note I wrote for my eldest daughter. It was her first day back at school today. She started year 2 or second grade. I have noticed she is speaking a lot less Tongan since beginning primary (elementary) school. So I try to incorporate more of the Tongan language where ever I can for her.
I wrote a little note ʻofa atu = love to you. I thought she might have problems reading it but the love heart gave it away. Her reaction after school was worth all the effort