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Part of my language learning strategy

July 27, 2011

I have finally decided to incorporate part of a learning method I have been reading about to help with learning Navajo. I have been going back and forth between books, listening….(overwhelmed)….I need consistent strategies.

There is a language acquisition method used by AJATT and Spanish-Only I find to be very intriguing. What they do first is immerse themselves in the language, that means listening and watching anything in their target language. I can’t really explain everything that AJATT and Spanish-Only say as to why they prefer this method, please refer to their sites for more information.

This is how it basically works. You listen to your target language; I mean…hundreds of hours of listening. I have been thinking more about this learning method, I have decided to incorporate the listening aspect. I am going to listen to a ton of Navajo; and I am not talking about audio full of vocabulary lists. I have conference addresses, the Navajo Nation Radio Network, KTNN Radio, YouTube videos, etc.

I’ve decided to include more hours of Navajo into my day. I have successfully included about an 60 – 90 minutes of Navajo in my listening regimen for the last two or so weeks. I have missed a day or two for whatever reason, but I immediately picked up listening again the next day.  I am going to increase the number of hours that I listen; I am thinking maybe 3-4 hours a day from now on.

Three hours may seem like a lot and that listening this much might interfere with other things throughout my day. I don’t think it will. I should be able to find these hours without much trouble. I commute about a total of an hour every day to get to school, and I catch the bus to work which is another 30 minutes. That’s half of my goal already. I have audio uploaded onto my iPod, so I don’t have to go very far to listen to something. I can get the rest of my listening at home while I do errands around the house or do homework that doesn’t require me to read for comprehension. I have yet to find a way to include other things to include in my day like grammar, speaking and some reading. There are no rules to learning a language, so I am taking the advice of others learning experience and adding other things I think I need. But one thing is for sure, I will be listening.

Now…this is one of many ways to help learn a language, and I am going to try it out. It will be a little tricky, there is a lot less audio to listen to compared to Spanish and Japanese, but, I still think I will benefit from listening.

I am interested in knowing how other people are learning Navajo, so please comment below.

What are you doing and how is your progress?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Ndnpsych permalink
    July 27, 2011 10:11 am

    Love your site- it’s been great to come across this link.
    I think this is an excellent strategy. I was starting to download the conference addresses with this similar goal in mind. I am not LDS, but this is by far the best set of spoken Navajo that I’ve come across. I am past the vocabulary or “beginner” Navajo- I would say I’m 95% receptive Navajo, and about 30% expressive Navajo- I understand much more Navajo than I can speak. I always stumble on correct verb usage and think I need to hear more. I can get by if I have to, but fluent,spontaneous conversations is my goal. will keep you posted.

    • July 30, 2011 11:18 am

      I am at that same listening-to-speaking transition with Spanish. Hopefully I figure it all out before it is the time for me to speak more in Navajo. Yes, please keep me posted with your progress. Thanks, Ndnpsych.

  2. Jan permalink
    July 28, 2011 1:05 pm

    This is more about retaining the language…. I am married to a non-Navajo, so most of my family speak only English. A few years ago, I panicked when I realized I was having a hard time remembering some words. Living in an urban area, I also don’t get to converse with other Navajos very often. So I made myself speak it every day while driving to work — in PRAYER. I try to say the whole prayer in Navajo. It’s an awesome experience to greet each new day in this way, and it has helped me tremendously with retaining the language.

    • July 30, 2011 11:20 am

      I think this is a really good practice. I am intrigued by your comment, because this has become one concern about thinking about the Navajo language. That there isn’t much being done to help everyone retain the language. Of course it is more difficult of the reservation, but there isn’t much to help other retain on the reservation. Hopefully, something can be done about this.

  3. July 29, 2011 2:59 pm

    yes, I recommend this method. Immersion supplies the brain with info and over a period deciphers it. I tell my students to have friends and family members that speak to use it with them, active participation like TPR works quite well at the kitchen table.

    • July 30, 2011 11:24 am

      I am reading up on TPR, very interesting stuff. I will continue to listen consistently, I am catching more words and phrases. I am trying to figure out which dictionary is the best for me look up words I keep hearing. Do you have any suggestions?

      • July 30, 2011 12:18 pm

        Expense wise, thrift considered, the little pocket book. don’t recall the name of it off hand, then the oxford picture dictionary. for comprehensive you have to go the cd version of Y&M dictionary. There is really not a lot of good material to cover the needs of beginning learners, as it is more an oral discourse. I also suggest getting the Navajo Bible for those that are into organized religion. reading aloud to self is quite helpful, it is second to listening to others speak. its fun and that is good, active input.

  4. Robert Tata Ngawaka Omeka permalink
    October 4, 2011 10:12 am

    learn basic sentence structures such as “i am going to______” , “we are going to ______” “they are going to _______”, build on these sentence structures by adding extra ie “i am going to _____ so that i can collect _____” etc learn 1 new proverb a month not just memorize but understand it from a Navajo mind. in New Zealand one of my ancestors whakatauki {proverb} “because of women land is lost” , because of a literal translation white men think it means men fought for the want of a woman so land was lost as a process of war. wrong it means you need to look after your women because that is where your future generation is comming from and being nurtured by. proverbs will also give you ideas of correct sentence structures. also learn five new words a week, fortnight, month whatever period you can handle. speak Navajo to your family even if they like it or not remember your partner should support you and may over time join you in this journey. say things like for me the language is maori “homai te huka” then repeat in english “pass the sugar” the key to learning a language is speak speak speak. also in maori we have a learning method called moemoea which is to learn in your sleep, while people were sleeping elders would chant what is to be taught over the sleep period, today you can use your ipod or mp3 player. ” find some one who desire the same as you create a Navajo language group and have regular meetings in your language dont be afraid of being corrected. kia kaha kia manawanui kia humarie e hoa” be strong be big hearted and be humble my friend on your journey.

    • October 7, 2011 8:53 am

      Robert, Thanks so much for the advice and the encouragement in your comment. It has been a long week, and I am trying to keep up with listening and my Anki repetitions….this comment helps. I have no official list of languages I will be learning in the future, but Maori would certainly be on that list. Thanks.

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