The Hawaiian language has a deep cultural history, but up until now, only a few people know and regularly speak the language.
In the 19th century, Hawaiian became a written language. Although it was banned in schools after the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, several efforts have been made to revive it since 1978.
In this article, we will explore the best tips to learn the Hawaiian language quickly.
1. How to Learn Hawaiian?
Once in high school, I remember my English teacher letting us in the best-kept secret till now.
She told us we must follow the LSRW rule to learn any language. LSRW stands for listen, speak, read, write.
According to her, if we listened to phrases, podcasts, or music in a specific language(in this case, Hawaiian), tried to speak in the language, and read and write in the language, then language learning could be a lot more fun and more accessible.
Now that we know this let’s learn the Hawaiian language so that your Hawaiian dictionary does not just consist of “aloha.”
1.1. Listening to the Hawaiian Language
If we follow the LSRW rule, we must listen to Hawaiian music, watch Hawaiian videos, or take a free online language course.
1.1.1. Hawaiian Music
You can easily search for Hawaiian music or podcasts on your Spotify or Apple Music. I admit that listening to it can be very difficult in the beginning.
But hey! People start learning Korean while listening to K-pop, so trust the process.
Initially, you can hook yourself up with just the music.
Though slowly, as time passes, you might start to pick up some Hawaiian words, and who knows, you might even sing along to them.
1.1.2. Hawaiian Youtube Videos
So many YouTube videos are available online that can make this Hawaiian language learning experience more comprehensive for you. Some of them are listed below:
- Ōlelo Online – This website is among the best online sources for learning Hawaiian ‘Ōlelo. It provides you with video and audio lessons while also bringing a virtual classroom to the comforts of your home. It also has the facility of text-based lessons.
- Ka Leo ʻŌiwi – Ka Leo ʻŌiwi not only teaches you essential Hawaiian words like a teacher would to students. It also hosts online sessions to teach you about the life, culture, and language of the native Hawaiians.
As you progress with the lessons, you will learn the Hawaiian alphabet, forms, tenses, and sentence structures. Other resources are The Associated Students of the University of Hawai’i (ASUH) initiative and Duolingo.
1.2. Speaking the Language
Now, coming on to the next level, you need to speak the Hawaiian language to learn it better, for which there are specific steps that you need to follow.
Most Hawaiian consonants are pronounced similarly to their English counterparts, except ‘W,’ which can be pronounced as either ‘w’ or ‘v’ depending on the vowels that follow it, and the ʻokina, a glottal stop not present in English.
The vowels used in Hawaiian are the same as those used in English, but their pronunciation can differ. Additionally, Hawaiian vowels can be either short or long, and this length can change the meaning of a word.
Learn the intricacies of the language to remember the pronunciation of the Hawaiian alphabet.
For instance, when the macron ( ¯ ) called a kahakō is drawn over a vowel, it signifies a long vowel’s presence.
When an apostrophe, called the ‘okina, is placed between syllables, it signifies that the following syllable is to be pronounced after a brief pause.
1.2.2. Alternatives of the Basic Hawaiian Words
You already know that ‘aloha’ is a Hawaiian greeting. But you didn’t realize that you can add other words to aloha and form other greetings.
For example, “aloha kakahiaka” stands for good morning, “aloha awakea” is good noon, “aloha ‘auinalā” stands for good afternoon, and “aloha ahiahi” is good evening.
You can also learn conversation basics like “Pehea ‘oe”(how are you?), “Mahalo” (thank you) and “Aʻole pilikia”(no problem) to converse better in the Hawaiian language.
1.3. Reading in the Hawaiian Language
After acquiring some knowledge about basic Hawaiian grammar, you can try to practice your Hawaiian reading skills in various ways.
1.3.1. Hawaiian Books
Moving on to the reading part of the LSRW rule, you might face challenges finding Hawaiian books online.
However, it is suggested not to delve deep into the oceans of Hawaiian literature immediately since you are only a student and not a native. Instead, try reading the children’s books, as the Hawaiian words first.
Instead, try reading the children’s books first, as the Hawaiian words and grammar are pretty easy to decipher.
1.3.2. Labelling Your Knick-knacks
You can label the items around your house using a Hawaiian dictionary.
This is a beneficial method as you will write the words after knowing them and read them repeatedly.
Hence, it will be easier to remember those Hawaiian words without any help.
1.4. Writing Hawaiian Words
Coming to the last part of the language learning rule, to learn Hawaiian, you must write in it too, and you can do so by writing anything and everything, which will also help you to remember it better.
You can also watch videos of the Hawaiian culture and the native Hawaiians with subtitles and then try writing their conversations.
Writing common phrases and words you learned earlier can also be a great help when you want to learn Hawaiian.
You can even write little excerpts from the book that you are reading to enhance your Hawaiian vocabulary.
Once you are well-equipped with the native language, you can even pen down your own words in Hawaiian.
2. Is it Hard to Learn Hawaiian?
If you are often plagued by the thoughts of the difficulty level of a specific task before starting it, then this section is for you.
You will be relieved that Hawaiian is a reasonably easy language to learn. Especially for people whose first language is English, Hawaiian language learning is not a challenging experience.
A Polynesian language belonging to the Austronesian language family, the Hawaiian language only has twelve letters, and most of the consonants have the same pronunciation as their English counterparts.
To add to this, many resources available online can be of much help in the process.
3. How Long Does it Take to Learn the Hawaiian Language Fluently?
If you plan a trip to Hawaii and want to know when you will be well familiar with the Hawaiian language, I suggest you plan your trip at least one year in advance.
This is because an average person takes at least one to two years to become well-versed in the language, though language learning also depends on many factors.
The factors can be your language learning ability and speed in learning new words. Also, your motivation to learn the said language and the frequency of your practice play significant factors.
If you somehow manage to master all of these factors, then you can learn Hawaiian as early as between six to twelve months.
After this period, you will at least be acquainted with Hawaiian grammar, words, and greetings.
4. In The End
Learning a language or anything else is only half your aptitude; the other half is your immanent will. Your will to learn the language comes what may.
There might come instances in your journey when you will feel like giving up, and thoughts about the futility of this vision will cloud your mind. But the joy and hope of learning something new will always prevail at the end of the day.
The joy of not giving up and learning a new means to communicate better is much more than the ease of resigning.
Also, thanks to modern existence, you do not have to spend days collecting resources to learn something new. Everything is available to you at one click of your laptop or swipe of your phone.
You can learn Hawaiian quickly using many online videos and Android apps without much fuss.
The process might be a little cumbersome, but I promise you that there is light at the end of this tunnel. You have to be patient.
I hope the guidelines provided above can be of help in learning Hawaiian. You can now plan your trip to Hawaii without much worrying.
Also, whatever you do, remember not to restrict your dictionary to just “aloha” and “mahalo.” You do not want the locals to despise you. Happy learning! Mahalo.