Tag Archive: language

How to speak Japanese



How to speak Japanese without saying a word


Naruto for Spanish speakers


Speak Japanese! Advice for learning Japanese


In response to Richard’s question:

“Here’s the 1,000 dollar question: if you had to learn Hausa or Igbo, what resources would you use if you weren’t living in Nigeria?”

My answer will also include Yoruba, the third official language of Nigeria.

For both Igbo and Yoruba, there is a large community of Nigerians in the USA, UK and France. Igbos are fervent Christians and mainly Catholics while Yorubas are Christians and Muslims (50/50). Therefore, find those churches or mosques and be a part of the religious community and in time you will find someone happy to teach you Igbo or Yoruba.

If you are a student at university or you live close to a student campus, chances are there will be a Nigerian society group. You can definitely check them out and you may just find Hausas in the group.

Hausas are predominantly muslims and as a foreign born and bred Nigerian, I was only aware of one Hausa girl in my boarding school history (10 years). A rare event that is becoming more and more common today. When you meet Nigerians in Western states, chances are that the majority will be Igbo, Yoruba or half Hausa but like I said things are changing. Dubai should be an interesting place to meet all three ethnic groups! Remember that as a man, it would be best to seek out male Hausas and as a woman seek out female Hausas to be on the safe side. 🙂

My other advice is to watch Nollywood films and they are available in Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, you will learn a lot about the culture  but it would be best to have a basic grasp of the language because the subtitles will provoke tears of laughter and distract you from what is actually happening in the film.

If I had to rate the languages by accessibility, Igbo and Yoruba are on a par, while Hausa will demand a lot more effort if you want to meet Hausas and interact with them.

Apart from church or films, I really don’t know how one goes about learning these languages.

There are lessons you could take at the SOAS university in London, UK. They have Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo evening courses. INALCO university in Paris, France also offers lessons but only for degree seeking kids. There must be the equivalent in the USA, I am thinking Georgetown university, Cleveland State university,  Texas university and UCLA. I know that Atlanta has a crazy number of Nigerians living, working and studying there and you will definitely find someone.

Livemocha or any such site could be the next step, there is potential. Since the speakers of these languages are to be found in Africa, the internet penetration rate is low, this means you might not find many XXX speakers on the internet let alone on Livemocha.

In conclusion, these languages are difficult primarily because a lot of the self-learning resources available for Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa may not be as satisfactory as what is available for learning Japanese, French or Russian. This is unfortunate but it is the reality for now.

I hope I answered your question 🙂

Fulani-Hausa girl

Jump into it and hang on because everything you do counts


I am two months into my one year journey and I am going strong. I am not discouraged in any way and I cannot go a day without hearing Chinese or writing Hanzi.

I was browsing the internet and I came across an article entitled: ‘How to learn a foreign language?’ I remember reading many similar posts in the past on this matter and my only observation was: the time spent reading such articles could have been invested in learning the language of my choice. There is no magic bullet. Just like it takes at least 28 days for the concrete foundation of a building to cure, it also takes time for you to adapt to your new language. This may be 10 days for some or 90 days for others. Who cares, just start.

I still spend more time on other things than learning Chinese but I have set a few daily goals. The difficulty I encounter is ensuring I accomplish my daily goals and not ensuring I learn Chinese.   What do I mean by this? Well sometimes, I don’t want to pick up my Chinese book or listen to Chinese lessons but I train myself to do so. Sometimes I pick up the books and I start reading and learning and I just won’t stop. So I train myself to set the time and stop once I have done my two hours of Chinese. My two hours of daily Chinese can be divided into 30 minute sessions. The essential thing is that I get my two hours of lessons per day because this is approximately the time it takes to accomplish my Chinese tasks. Sometimes I finish earlier than planned, so what do I do? Well I let go and stop.

As you can see, my greatest hurdle is discipline. Seen from this angle, I think I am embarking on a journey that will make me into a more efficient being, a journey that should boost my confidence and the way I perform.

As an individual, I would describe myself as somewhat disorganised, full of energy, a list maker and time traveller (I often day dream and I like to do so). That is my nature and I embrace it. What I am doing is trying to find a way to use these traits to my advantage. I know that when I am at my best, learning is easy as ABC. When I am at my lowest, I am struggling with myself. Just like you would not force a child to do what s/he does not want to do and instead you adapt, I am learning to do exactly that with myself. I am only human…

The Language Learning Lab investigates how infants learn from statistical regularities in the language they hear and the nature of what they learn.

The Language Learning Lab investigates how infants learn from statistical regularities in the language they hear and the nature of what they learn.

My real goal is to always make the time to learn my languages, always have the ability to adapt my routine to my life. Therefore the trial and error period I am going through is not a waste of my time. From what I understand, it is the time I need to build the foundation for a lifetime of personal satisfaction.

I am certain that in the future, I’ll be able to apply this acquired discipline and time management skill to learning another language, the violin, to ride a camel and the list goes on.

Yes, this learning experience is turning out to be a lesson in life

So Confucius what is your take?

Confucius: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”



Previous post

Next post

San Zi Jing


I was looking for Chinese language texts to read as a way to learn and understand characters as well as pick up some culture.

I found the San Zi Jing

‘The San Zi Jing was written in the 13th century to instruct children in the basics of Confucian principles, history, philosophy, and to brain wash them into working hard and striving to do their best. It is attributed to Wang Yinlin ( 1223-1296), a noted scholar of the Song dynasty. It was used as we use Grimm or perhaps the Little Golden Books; as a basic primer for pre-literate children’.

What is it about?

‘The San Zi Jing provided a chain of culture and knowledge that linked centuries of children. The children most often learned the San Zi Jing before they could even read a character. Even if the child did not become a scholar, they knew the basics of the culture and were instructed in filial piety, the need to work hard, and a respect for the classics. Even today, children in China read and learn from the San Zi Jing’.

The translation, hanzi and pinyin are all available. I don’t know how I’ll use this resource but it seems like something to do to train my reading skills. My tailored lessons train my comprehension skills, I now need to find something to train my speaking skills on a regular basis. I am thinking that I should sit down and find a long term Chinese language exchange partner. Will see how that goes.

I thought you might be interested in seeing my lessons. You might have noticed that I don’t put the corresponding English or French or PinYin translation. If you know the basics of Hanzi then this dialogue is pretty much easy. I also included the building blocks (radicals) as a way of refreshing my memory and learning new radicals as I go along.Lesson 1 Mandarin dialogue

Q. So what do you think?

I am currently on lesson 15 of this type of exercise and I normally have at least 3 dialogues. My pages often look like they have been infested by ants.  I hope you can read my writing, I tend to write quickly. For those of you that practise writing or will begin to do so, I find it manageable to work with a pencil, rubber and squared paper.


PS. Season 3 of Abs Beginners is OVER and DONE with. I rushed the end, I had no patience left. I hope to revise the last lessons by incorporating the new vocab into my own lessons. Although I am on lesson 15, I am still ‘stuck’ on the greetings section there are so many things to cover that I feel are worth the extra time.

The next step would be to record my dialogues and answer the questions as Person A, then as Person B and so on.

Q. Was this helpful? 

I must admit, I moved away from my audio lessons because of Christiansol.

I feel that he is putting a lot of effort and I am sure that sometimes he must feel that time flies by. I am putting some effort too but I will follow his example because I think I am really missing out by not creating my own material and not working on my Hanzi.

Q. Does anyone know of a Chinese TV channel I can access from France? and what is the best web browser for this? 

I can’t view CCTV in Chinese, my internet provider gives me live access to CCTV in French, of course there are shows and so on but the great thing about CCTV in Chinese (which I have access to on cable in Nigeria) is that I learn so much. The shows are in Mandarin and subtitled in simplified Chinese. Sometimes I donn’t understand a word because of the ‘different’ accent but I recognise it in the subtitles. What is great is that my reading speed is FAST because my brain quickly identifies the characters I know and simply ignores the rest. No time to dilly dally!!