Thursday, June 14, 2007

Studying Samoan

Language training is intensive. Over 160 classroom hours are scheduled with homework almost every night and living in the village with a Samoan family is also primarily for language. For the sixteen Peace Corps Trainees (PCTs), there are four full time Peace Corps native language trainers. PCTs are broken into smaller groups depending on their progression. These trainers rotate between these groups every two weeks. PCTs are given numerous assessments throughout the three month training process and can move from to another group if deemed necessary. The final test is given by people who have not been involved in the training or Peace Corps. You must have an 80% competency rating at the middle-low level to pass.

The language itself is very nice to the ear, much like listening to an Hawaiian song. There are a few sounds which are different from English, and the Samoan alphabet has five vowels and twelve consonants. Of course, listening to a pleasant song and then trying to sing it can be a challenge.

Since English is taught in high school, many people do have at least some knowledge of it. It is spoken more frequently in Apia where we are and expect fewer to know it when we finally go out to our village. Many of the Peace Corps Volunteers who are in Apia, hardly ever speak Samoan, except for general greetings, etc. Like most places in the world, people would rather try out their English, than their native tongue.
We spend most of our free time studying the language. Some of the college kids are quick to pick it up and relish demonstrating their learning talents. Mary and I fall into the group who sit in fear during language lessons.

1 comment:

Teri said...

You look so studious, Mary. I give you a lot of credit for this. Taking on a new language as an adult is always a challenge. Geez, what am I is the whole PC adventure for that matter. Wearing one of your new lava lavas certainly must help the process along, I'm sure!

Sending lots of loving, smooth sailing with the language learning thoughts your way.