Friday, August 19, 2011

Tips for Learning Haitian Creole

Why exactly are you learning Haitian Creole? Who are the people you will be interacting with? Chances are you are trying to learn Creole for travel, volunteer, or work. You will be communicating with Haitians from all walks of life; from a young family in need of help for medical aid and interpreters to businessmen and market women --or “machann” as they are known. Hence, you must remember just what drew you in to this lovely, mountainous, Caribbean escape in the first place.

In the wake of a literal earth shattering devastation, the citizens of Haiti are in great appreciation of foreigners coming to their aid. That appreciation quickly turns into respect for your simple effort of trying to speak to Haitians in their native language. Therefore, you must focus on the alphabet, practice your phrases, but…don’t over-do it!

The first time you say “sa k pase?” you’re going to feel and most definitely sound funny so there’s no use of over thinking it. Get the sound out, don’t be afraid, and rest assured that you’re making an effort to communicate with some of the friendliest people in the world if not the friendliest. When practicing speaking, always remember the context of the words you’re trying to express and relax. When I learned my first words in Creole, I made the excuse that I sounded like a 3 yr old. The Haitian I was practicing with quickly reminded me that there are many 3 yr olds in Haiti learning Creole and they can be understood! So, if people can understand them perfectly then anyone can understand you too. I had no excuse left then! The only difference is that they are persistent in trying to speak, and they’re not shy. Practice makes perfect. Continue on the road for mastery of the language with these few tips and before you know it you’ll be speaking Creole!

Fanm Vanyan
Kreyol Lab bloger

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