A common question we get asked is, ‘Do you have to learn a language when you go to South Sudan?” The answer? “Yes and no!”
No – because one of South Sudan’s official languages is English and the children are educated in English, so the children and a number of adults speak at least some English. Also there will be a number of staff/people around who can translate for us if needed.
Yes – because we are convinced that by attempting to learn the language we can communicate love and respect for the local people and the things that are important to them. For us, that will mean learning Juba Arabic (the market language) and Kakwa (the main tribal language of our area).
Learning a language freaks me (Linda) out – never really been one of my ‘strengths’, however, we were encouraged by a course that we did in January – it is possible!!! The course was called MILL – Maximum Impact Language Learning. It is a 5 + day course that focuses on the ‘how to’ learn a language, using the GPA method (Growing Participators Approach). It is very much a ‘get out there and get involved with people’ approach rather than classroom based – which I must admit suits me much better! It’s a great method for the kids to learn as well!
GPA uses the method of ‘learn your second language the way you learnt your first’…..lots of listening initially, followed by some imitation, followed by using it in your spheres of influence or groups of contacts. It is fun, interactive and relevant. The hardest thing for me is to not talk for the first 30 or so hours –believe it or not!
We have a couple of Kakwa friends living in Launceston, so with their help, we hope to get started learning some Juba Arabic before we even get to South Sudan!
We’d encourage anyone who is thinking of moving cross culturally to investigate this method of language learning. It’s great fun – and effective! For upcoming courses contact MILL.