so many updates

I had planned to do some blogging about my Luganda learning experience while I was in Uganda this summer -- after all, I really enjoyed the opportunity to reflect and take stock of my progress when I blogged last summer. But somehow time just whizzed on by, and the next thing I knew, I was on a plane bound for the United States.

However, there are a couple highlights from the summer I want to capture here, partially as reflection and partially to set the stage for my language learning this year.

Deepening my relationship with Simon
I was unsure if my language school would place me with the teacher I worked with last year or with another teacher, and I was sort of surprised to find myself matched with Simon. Simon is my language mentor during the school year, via Skype, but not someone I'd ever worked with in person. I wasn't quite sure how it would go, but he did a great job of checking in with me about my goals for the summer and designing our time together based on those goals. Spending 20 hours a week in a one-on-one setting really creates a unique relationship and I feel increasingly happy about our funny little partnership.

Me and Simon on my last day in Kampala

Experimenting with new methods
One of my stated goals this summer was to improve my listening skills. I knew I'd have many more opportunities to work on my listening while in country: overhearing conversations, catching the TV news, listening to the radio while in taxis, etc. I told Simon about this goal, and after a couple of weeks we started experimenting with a new activity. He would record himself telling a story or reading a book on an old-school tape recorder, and hand it off to me. I could then listen and re-listen as necessary, and would write down what I heard (translating into English). Then we would go over the tapes together. I really liked this activity because it felt like I was really building my listening skills, not just straining to catch phrases. I'm not sure how to recreate this over Skype, but I'm hoping we can come up with something.

Learning with a friend
My entire Luganda learning journey has been a pretty solo endeavor. To this extravert, this is sometimes a struggle. But this summer, I got the chance to start working with a peer, which has opened up a whole new way of learning. A friend of mine, Kevin, started learning Luganda a couple years ago, and was in fact a summer FLAS recipient several years back. He runs an NGO in Uganda and continues to meet with Simon in his spare time. I knew that he spoke Luganda but had no idea just how good he is. The fluency with which he speaks is truly impressive and his grasp of slang is amazing. In any case, I invited him to join me and Simon once a week, just to mix things up a little. More than just providing me with a fun diversion, having Kevin join us was great for my language learning. We worked together translating newspaper articles and were able to exchange thoughts and questions about the translations as we went. I got to sit back and listen to Simon and Kevin talking to one another, great practice for my listening skills. With Kevin's grasp of slang, I got to learn some of that as well. Additionally, I got a chance to recognize some of my strengths in Luganda, which is usually a difficult thing for me when studying alone. I discovered that my vocabulary is actually fairly extensive and that some of the root-oriented work I've done has paid off. Kevin plans to join me and Simon regularly in the coming months to continue the fun! (He'll be in person with Simon, and I'll call in via Skype. We'll see how it goes!)

The past week was a classic get-back-into-the-groove kind of week for me. I'm still struggling to figure out the nuances of my schedule and where all of my work fits in. It was also my birthday which meant a bit more celebrating than usual 😀 and a little less work 😥😬🙊. I did not start counting points for Omuzannyo but will begin the coming week, which also almost definitely contributed to my lack of Luganda work. However, I have been texting regularly with friends in Kampala in Luganda and listening to a lot of Luganda radio. I also glanced over a couple of newspaper articles. But the hard work starts tomorrow!

And start it will... my first mentorship session of the semester will be bright and early at 8 AM on Monday. Simon has already sent me homework and looked over my ISP to get a sense of what I'm up to, so he's all ready to go. It's up to me now to make it all happen.

I'm really looking forward to really properly digging in on my Luganda this week, and look forward to having more to share!


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