Bonjou! Learn to Speak Haitian Creole

Bonjou! ...Mèsi! ...E Orevwa! Check out our Audio bits. Do as many exercises as you need. Take an online QUIZ and get your answers right away. Finish a crossword puzzle. Reinforce your learning with the Audio/Video exercises. Search for English or Haitian Creole words translation. Also search the whole site for expressions, idioms and grammar rules. And ask questions about the language in the ASK QUESTIONS HERE section.

Most requested translations added here for your convenience: I love you → Mwen renmen w. I miss you → Mwen sonje w. My love!Lanmou mwen!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I am trying earnestly to learn Haitian Creole as the people of Haiti have stolen my very heart and soul. I go on mission trips 6 times a year and am finding it very hard to understand and learn the language. Where do you suggest starting?

Awesome :)  Haiti does grow on you, doesn’t it? I’m glad you’ve found love and attachment there.

An introductory Haitian Creole language class is highly recommended. It’s a great environment for you to practice listening and speaking. Many people try to learn H. Creole on their own because Haitian Creole language classes are not as available as ESOL, Spanish, French, Italian, etc…. And some people are successful at learning independently using all the resources they can.  Learning on your own has one down side though, you don’t get to practice the speaking part as much as you’d like to.  You understand every written and spoken word but speaking the language is a big challenge.

Isn’t it just discouraging when you think, Ok I’m ready.  I can handle a basic conversation In Haitian Creole.  I KNOW I CAN!  I have done it in my head many many times.  And then you approach this native guy and say one sentence, like Bonjou, kijan ou ye?  hoping that he notices your obvious accent and would reply with a slow paced response just like the conversations that you’ve practiced on the audio tapes and CDs, but no!  The native throws at you one long sentence spoken at a million miles per second, all the words bunched up together, and you’re very sure that he must have spoken a full paragraph. You smile and shake your head pretending to agree with whatever he’s saying, but really you are scanning the string of words coming out of his mouth looking for a familiar sound, but NOTHING!   At last you are grateful that you had learned this sentence (just in case):  Speak more slowly please! (I used that a lot when I was learning English); ¡Hable más lento, por favor! (I’ve actually had to pull that out of my Spanish language repertoire once in a while) and Pale pi dousman tanpri! (you’ll say to the natifnatal guy) and he might take time to enunciate and you’ll learn that all he replied was Bonjou, mwen byen e ou menm?   

If you cannot physically get to a class, try online group classes (Haitihub.com is a good place to start.  Their online program might be for you). If that’s not an option try books for beginners WITH audio.  If you do try books with audio, you’ll additionally need to practice with someone who speaks the language.  Listening to spoken Creole is as important as speaking it.  Listen to Haitian Creole radio programs, broadcast news, Youtube videos, songs, etc…  At first you might not hear anything that you understand, but little by little you’ll pick up words, then sentences, then expressions, and etc… Reading Haitian Creole is helpful too.  Begin with books of Haitian Creole tales or stories for kids, most likely written with elementary grammar. Some people find the audio part of this blog very helpful as they get to listen to H. Creole dialogues while you read them – and you can download and listen to them as many times as you need so you’ll actually hear some of those dialogues in conversations when you’re around  H. Creole speaking people.

If anyone has anything to add, any foreigner who’s been there,  who has either started with classes or on their own – please feel free to comment – you might be able to help our friend start on the right foot.  Mèsi anpil anpil.

Haitian Creole ↔ English Reference, Look up Haitian Creole and English Words

2 comments:

  1. Don't get frustrated. I spent 3 months last year staying with a family I know in Haiti. I didn't start getting the hang of Creole until a month and a half in, and that was with 30 other Haitians staying in the house with me and AFTER I completed all the Haitihub lessons. Listening comprehension is by far the toughest part, but also the most rewarding. It may feel like you are making no progress, but as long as you are spending your time with other people speaking Creole you will get the hang of it.

    If you're studying back in the States or wherever I'd recommend listening to Haitian talk radio shows on the internet. Best ones I have found are Radio Soleil out of NY, Radio Vision 2000 99.3, Radyo LeveKanpe out of Hinche, and Signal FM 90.5. Make sure you don't listen to them in the background while doing other stuff, you have to devote all your attention to understanding what they are saying.

    For grammar I'd just go through this entire blog chronologically with 2 notebooks. WRITE all the grammar lessons in one and all the vocab you don't know in the other. Study these notebooks in your free time and take them with you to Haiti.

    For speaking, a H. Creole class or a French class (or even Rosetta Stone in French) will help you with your accent. Whatever you decide to do, don't get discouraged. Bon chans!

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  2. I participated in a the Haiti Hub program and that helped to get me started. Also I used Pimsler, and Byki (good for vocabulary.) I spent six weeks in Miami studying Haitian Creole at Florida International University. For 14 months I was in Haiti working at an home for children and a school, continued to study while I was there, managed to get by although I struggled the entire time with listening comprehension. Since returning in the US over two years ago in order to not forget the language, I listen to Haitian Creole news casts on the Voice of America,check out this blog regularly, refresh my stale learned words on the Byki program, and attend a Haitian Creole Catholic mass frequently. All of the these things have helped me, so I recommend them to anyone who is learning. I still struggle a great deal with listening comprehension, so be patient.

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