Ê»ÅŒlelo HawaiÊ»i: Learn Hawaiian Online for Free
For the first time, the Distance Learning program at Kamehameha Schools is offering two introductory Hawaiian language classes online for free. And with just a little bit of homework, you can earn a couple of prizes as well.
Once in danger of being lost forever, theÂ Hawaiian language is now thriving. It’s an official language of the State of Hawaii, meaning you can execute contracts in Hawaiian,Â write checks in Hawaiian (and use ATMs in Hawaiian), take your driver’s license exam in Hawaiian, and so on.
IÂ studied Hawaiian at UH while slowly working my way toward my journalism degree, and one of the many controversies that aroseÂ during my tenure as editorÂ of the then-daily student newspaper was to publish editorial columns in the Hawaiian language without accompanying translations. (The compromise was to provide printed translations at our office.) But like anything studied in college, my knowledge faded quickly once I left campus.
You can certainly buy books (like the one I started out with) to study on your own, or seek out online guides, but it’s a mixed bag out there.Â Kamehameha Schools isÂ definitely amongÂ the more credible institutions, along withÂ â€˜Aha PÅ«nana Leo, offering an online option.
Of course, if you’re really serious about studying Hawaiian, there’sÂ Ka Haka Ê»Ula O KeÊ»elikÅlani at UH Hilo and the Hawaiâ€˜inuiÄkea School of Hawaiian KnowledgeÂ at UH Manoa. But for beginners, the introductory courses from Kamehameha Schools are great.
Right now, the Kamehameha Schools Distance Learning program has a Hawaiian Language Series special, with Level 1 and Level 2 available for free (if you register by Wednesday, July 15, or by mid-September, respectively). It’s the first time two classes are being offered at no charge. In addition, two intermediate courses are being offered for $20, or 20 percent off the usual $25 cost.
“The â€˜Ålelo classes seem to be increasing in interest and the free courses are popular for getting started,” KSBE Instructional Support team member Joan Matsukawa tells me. “Right now we have about 560 enrolled.”
The courses coverÂ the basics of the Hawaiian alphabet, vocabulary (beginning withÂ family and home words), and sentence structures, and there are games, presentation slides, fillable worksheets, and quizzes to help students study and practice.
“There are activities to do with keiki because the original target audience was families with small children,” Matsukawa explains. “But thereÊ»s lots of informationÂ for adults, and theyÊ»re a great teacher resource.”
She also stressed that the courses are not limited to people affiliated with Kamehameha Schools.
“Actually, most of the learners are people in the community, mostly in Hawaii but also on the continental U.S. and around the world,” Matsukawa says. “Our [mainland]Â learners say they really appreciate being able to connect their families with Hawaiian culture and language from where they are — since theyÊ»re 24/7 and online, anyone can participate.”
The two free introductory courses are:
- E Ola ka Ê»Ohana: (Aug. 3-28, 2015): At the core of Hawaiian being is the family. In the first Papa Ê»ÅŒlelo HawaiÊ»i or Hawaiian Language course vocabulary and sentence patterns will focus around the concept of Ê»ohana. Course activities will include practice exercises, a short haÊ»i Ê»Ålelo or speech in which each participant gives basic information about themselves, and a recitation of moÊ»okÅ«Ê»auhau or genealogy. Register by July 15.
- Pili Ê»OhanaÂ (Oct 5-30, 2015):In ka papa Pili Ê»ÅŒhana (the Pili Ê»ÅŒhana course) we will revisit some of the concepts taught in E Ola Ka Ê»ÅŒhana and build on them by taking a closer look at family relationships and interactions amongst family members. Sentence patterns will focus on introducing and describing family members as well what they enjoy doing. Course activities will include practice exercises and the creation of a digital photo journal about your Ê»ÅŒhana.Â Register by September 15.
The two intermediate courses areÂ KuÊ»u Wahi Noho (Nov. 2-27) and Kuleana (Jan. 4-29, 2016), and you can save $5 off each by enteringÂ the coupon codeÂ â€œbundle1516â€ at checkout. Altogether, that’s more than half off the usual cost of these distance learning offerings.
And there are even bonus goodies.
“Regularly the series would be $100, but with the specials itÊ»s $40, and studentsÂ have access for up to year after the course to practice,” Matsukawa notes. “Also, if studentsÂ login by the first week they get a set of 20 flash cards, and if they complete three or four short ‘homework assignments,’ weÊ»ll send them the wooden Hulo setÂ withÂ Hawaiian letters and syllables.”
Anyone interested in taking these classes should register now, she says, even if they don’t know whether they’ll be able to participate when they get underway.
Image courtesy Kamemameha Schools Distance Learning on Facebook.