adventures in grammar and beyond

It's been a busy week! There are three highlights that seem worth sharing.

1) This was my first week actually basing my work on a grammar book and it has been fun. I was a curious whether or not it would be useful in the earliest chapters of the book, since my language skills are certainly beyond the "here's how to make a present-tense sentence" stage. However, the reason I'd avoided the book in the past was because of barely-intelligible-to-me sentences like this: "It is formed by taking the demonstrative stem, prefixing the object infix, and to the result thus obtained, once more prefixing the object infix, with a lengthenging of the vowel." When I was starting out as a Luganda learner, sentences like that made me run for the hills. Now that I have a deeper knowledge of the language, I am able to make a bit more sense of this dense grammatical language. It makes starting work on Chapter 1 much less boring!

In any case, it's been a nice review and doing the activities in this old book has been helpful. It's also been a great way for me to force myself to focus on Luganda for extended periods of time, because to read the book well and do the activities takes a while. So far, this seems to have been a good decision!

2) A friend found out this week that she is a finalist for the Fulbright to Uganda (yay!). She'd told me previously that she would want to do Luganda lessons if she got to this stage, because she'll be in Luganda-speaking territory and knows how much I've liked learning it. I'm hopeful for her, and also excited to teach her Luganda! She's still interested, so this is something great to look forward to, and a way to learn through teaching. Of course, I will also encourage her to engage native speakers as much as possible - I would hate for her to pick up any bad habits that I might have. But I'm excited to teach the basics.

3) I watched a video of a Japanese man who speaks Luganda quite well being interviewed for a Luganda show. (By chance, I happened to meet this man's Ugandan wife at a party this summer, and she told me about her husband and how he has achieved some notoriety because of his language skills... for a while I guess he had a Luganda-language radio program!) It was a great thing to watch because a) he speaks a bit more slowly, so it's much easier for me to understand him; and b) he makes mistakes that I can identify! It was fun to listen to him speak and useful to understand why he had made certain mistakes. I sometimes was also able to produce the vocabulary words that he didn't know.

The process of watching him reminded me that language acquisition can be so unpredictable. While his fluency and speed far exceeded mine, there were points of grammar and vocabulary that he missed regularly. We are all on different language journeys and always wrestling with different language monsters. Watching the interview and reflecting on these issues gave me confidence in the strengths I've worked so hard to build - even if I am not yet at the superior level I want to be!

I kept up with my Luganda studies well this week, reaching my goal with 83 points (despite only one meeting with Simon). Here were my activities:
Monday: Lesson with Simon, texting friends
Tuesday: 1 hour of the grammar book, 100 Quizlet words
Wednesday: 10 minutes close listening, 100 Quizlet words
Thursday: 1.5 hours of grammar book, 1 hour listening to radio, read 1 Bukedde article, 50 Quizlet words, texting friends
Friday: 50 Quizlet words, 20 minutes watching a video
Saturday: 10 minutes video, 1 hour of grammar book, 50 Quizlet words
Sunday: 30 minutes of radio, 1 hour translating a newspaper article, 50 Quizlet words

I'm feeling good and looking forward to tackling the rest of the semester with just as much energy as the last week. :)


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