Showing posts from 2018

(not) The End

It's kind of crazy to me that I'm actually at this point: my last (class-related) blogpost, my last assessment, the end of three years of class-assisted independent language learning. But of course, as much as this is the end of something big, it's also the beginning of a new phase, of truly and completely independent language learning. After all this time, and all of this practice, I feel ready to do just that. When I first started this class, that thought intimidated the heck out of me. But now, it feels easy, exciting even, to think of continuing my language study outside of the 671 construct. I am excited about the next chapter in continuing my relationship with Luganda. I just got off of Skype with Simon, where we discussed my proficiency and went over elements of my final exam. Disappointingly, I seem to still be performing at an advanced-mid level. When Simon shared his analysis with me, I tried to not to sound too disappointed. I must have failed because Simon

springtime blues

This week I found it strangely a little difficult to motivate myself. It was one of those weeks where having Omuzannyo was actually exactly what I needed - if I hadn't had my goal of 80, I have a feeling I would've done a lot  less work. But thankfully that little number pushed me on and I put in the time. (Incidentally, I have no idea why my motivation slumped this week - I think it's something about being tired after Day in Africa and the realization of a whole bunch of other things I need to do before the end of the semester. That, plus a little bit of wanting to be outside when possible, equates to the kind of springtime blues I feel is pretty typical within a university setting!) Here's the outline of the week: Monday : Lesson with Simon, 100 Quizlet words Tuesday : 15 minutes watching news videos, 30 minutes lesson work Wednesday : 100 Quizlet words, 30 minutes lesson work Thursday : 15 minutes deep listening, 1 newspaper translation, 100 Quizlet words Fr

on not feeling guilty

This past week was, as expected, by far my worst week for my Luganda studies. I reached 32 points total, well below my weekly goal. I knew that it would be a tough week for me, but I hadn't expected it to be quite  so bad. A couple of factors contributed to this outcome: 1) Day in Africa prep definitely took over my life and took up most of my waking hours, as expected; 2) Simon had to cancel one of our meetings last-minute and we were unable to reschedule; and 3) post-Day in Africa I was emotionally pretty tired. Despite this - a week which could definitely be categorized as a Failure with a capital F - I don't feel guilty. I know I did the best I could under the circumstances. I know that this poor showing doesn't represent my commitment to learning the language. And I know that this was just one week of the 52 that make up my year as an independent learner. So: I'm not spending any of my emotional energy on guilt. I'm noting the week for what it was and moving

ebirowoozo bingi! (many thoughts!)

To express stress in Luganda, you say, "Nina ebirowoozo bingi" which literally translates to, "I have many thoughts." This week that seems like a particularly apt description for me - I'm stressed for sure, and that stress is connected to the sheer number of things I'm trying to keep track of. Day in Africa is a big one but there's a whole lot else on my mind right now and I'm definitely feeling the pressure of it all. (Just ask Kaden who happened to see me on Friday as I was kind of tearing my hair out!) This week, I managed my Luganda pretty well in spite of all the the stress/thoughts/things to do. Yet I still fell a bit short of my Omuzannyo goal, with 70 points. This week gave me the chance to practice a lot of my favorite little tips and tricks for getting stuff done during busy times and when traveling. I tried to mentally frame Luganda as a welcome diversion from other work rather than another item on my to-do list. I listened to Luganda on

nose to the grindstone

This past week didn't feel exemplary to me, just another week of trying to keep focused on getting high-quality Luganda practice in. This task was made a bit harder because Simon was unavailable for our normal Monday meeting (he got stuck in the village post-Easter because of bad rain), and I had to cancel on Friday for the African Studies Conference. So, unfortunately, last week included no conversation practice. I spent time on a number of other activities to make up for it. I put particular emphasis on getting through lesson work, since I was a week behind according to my ISP. I also tried to work really hard on my vocabulary practice, since I have a ways to go to meet my goal for the semester in terms of the number of words that I "Know Well." My time is increasingly precious in these next couple weeks, between the African Studies event I'm organizing for 350ish high school students (ahhh!) and other important work I need to finish for classes, so it's goi

spring break

Yet another spring break week has come and gone and I scarcely understand how it's possible it happened so quickly. (I'm willing to bet that I am not alone on this!) My goal for spring break was simply to touch some amount of Luganda every day. The first half of the week I spent in Madison, working on a smattering of papers and projects and African Studies Program related work, and the second half I spent in Chicago visiting friends and helping out after the birth of a new baby (who found himself in the hospital for several extra days and caused a bit of stress for all of us... but he is doing better and should be released tomorrow!). Given all of that, I mostly just hoped to do a little bit of work every day. And I easily achieved this goal! On Monday, I actually met with Simon for our regularly-scheduled lesson, which was nice. We worked on a couple more proverbs, which I'm happy to add to my mix and which I've been studying ever since. The rest of the week, I d


This was a fairly typical week for my language studies. I managed to reach my Omuzannyo point goal and spent a good amount of time working through the translation exercises in the Luganda grammar book that I'm using. I'm starting to get to chapters that deal with some of the more nuanced grammatical points, and so I'm trying to go slowly, pay careful attention, and aim for accuracy as I practice. An example of this type of grammar would be the use of  nga. Nga is used in a whole bunch of different ways and in service of different meanings, and it pretty much has always thrown me into a panic when I've come across it while listening or reading. When nga  is used before a noun it has one meaning, used before a verb it has a different meaning. When used with a prefix, yet another meaning, and used alongside the word bwe (which translates to when ), another. The list goes on. In sharpening my use of grammar like nga , I am inching ever closer to the superior proficienc

Kintu, Bemba, and cultural learning

This week was definitely better than last, but it wasn't a knockout week either. I felt pretty crappy throughout the first part of it and struggled to have the energy to get much done. And then, miraculously, on Thursday I woke up feeling 100% better. Hooray! One of the highlights of my week was reading the first couple chapters of a book I'd gotten through inter-library loan, The Oral Tradition of the Buganda of Uganda  by Immaculate Kizza. I'd checked this out in hopes of having a good selection of proverbs, but it also has several chapters of other oral traditions: legends, myths, and other important stories. On Saturday morning, I was idling around the house and decided to give the introductory chapters a read. I'm so glad I did! The second chapter outlines the main creation myth of the Buganda, the story of Kintu, which I've encountered multiple times in my language learning. It also gave a nice, compact overview of the legend of Buganda Kingdom's found

can't win 'em all

Ugh, this week. I came down with some illness on Sunday, got hit hard Monday, and have spent the entire rest of the week trying to get better. Every time I've felt like I was over it, the next day I felt terrible again. Enough complaining, but all of that is to say that I had a bad week for Luganda study (well, for any and all study). Since the semester thus far has been pretty successful, I'm not worried overall, though I am ready to start feeling better and get back to it. Because I was sick all week, what I did manage to do was pretty limited/passive. I put in some time listening to a podcast and watching the Jesus movie. I had to cancel one of my sessions with Simon but was able to meet with him on Friday. One thing that I did manage to do was to keep with my goal of doing some work every day, even though I didn't feel well. So that's one win! Here is how it all broke down: Monday : 30 minutes listening to a podcast Tuesday : 1 hour of lesson work Wedne

hard work pays off

This was another solid week of Luganda work. In addition to putting in a good amount of time and energy, I had an experience where I could really see the results of the work I've been putting in. Simon had me translate a short article from the newspaper (above). This type of reading was once completely out of reach for me - too many synonyms, too many uses of nga , too much difficult grammar. But this time, for the first time, it actually feel fairly easy to translate a newspaper article. That's not to say that I had 100% accuracy or knowledge of vocabulary, but that it felt like a pretty manageable task and that my overall comprehension was very high. Additionally, as I translated, I noticed several elements of the language that I've been working on recently. They included: - Vocabulary: a number of words which I've been studying lately were used, including enju ( a less-commonly used synonym for house ), okuteereka (to save money), emitendera ( steps, stages)

Akwata empola, atuuka wala.

She who goes slowly goes far. So goes the proverb that is the translation of this blog post's title. It's an apt descriptor for this week in two ways. First, the proverb reflects another week of slow and steady work. Again, I managed to put in some time each and every day of the week despite another visiting friend. I am slowly making my way through my grammar book, and slowly making progress towards my goals. I feel a sense of chipping away at the language in a new way; this semester's emphasis on sharpening feels  different, slower, more intensive. I want my Luganda practice to be steady and for my learning to really stick with me for the long-haul, and I think this phase in my language learning journey reflects this. Secondly, the proverb represents something new I started doing in the last week. After being introduced to numerous proverbs and never really remembering them, I decided I would make a change. Proverbs are used frequently in conversation, and so it's

steady progress

This was a good, if pretty typical, week. I was able to reach my goal of 80 points and even managed to do that while hosting visitors not once but TWICE over the course of the week. I am continuously working to improve my skills in planning and in carving out time, and this week that practice paid off! I've continued to focus on getting through a couple of chapters from the grammar book each week. I am really enjoying the process, and each time I do some of the activities from the book, I am able to notice patterns in my mistakes. For example, I frequently mix up the locative suffixes - my use of them is not particularly precise. Knowing this has prompted me to do some additional activities to work out the kinks (similar to my experience with relative/family words last week). As I'd hoped to do, I printed out my ISP and now am using it more frequently to ensure that I'm on track. It's funny how something as simple as having a hard document has helped me feel more at

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 a

kulikayo (welcome back)

Kulikayo ssetendekero! (Welcome back to university!) Feel free to read this blog post while listening to this little ditty , titled Kulikayo mwami (Welcome back husband). After taking a nice step away from schoolwork over the break, I was energized last week to dive back into what will be my final semester of coursework (yay!). Of course, "normal" for me is also chaotic and inconsistent, and last week was no different. After two normal days on Tuesday and Wednesday, I flew to Atlanta Thursday for a conference. I knew that the conference would put a wrench in my study schedule, especially at the beginning of the semester before I'd reassessed my goals and plans for the semester. In light of this, I decided to have the goal of simply doing some Luganda every day of the week, allowing me time to plan as well as to focus on my conference attendance. I was successful in that goal - I managed to do at least a little something every single day. Tuesday : Planning, watche