Picking Up The Lingo: My Ghana Challenge

I simply could not resist.

As a teacher of languages, the opportunity to try my hand at a new language was irresistible. So, whilst in Ghana during February half-term, I made sure that I tried to get to grips with Twi, the lingua franca of the country (other than English of course).

When faced with this new linguistic challenge (and with a limited amount of time), and after the initial foray into basic greetings, I sought out the following:

1) Verbs, 2) Connectives, 3) Tenses and 4) Opinions

I bang on in class about Vital Verbs and Nowhere Nouns, but found it to be true when I found myself in the position of a ‘beginner language learner’ again. (My note book soon became awash with infinitives).

Not only this, but my fascination for the differences between languages was kindled once more. Similar to Mandarin (I think), the infinitive of the Twi verb also acts as each part of its conjugation. Very economical and very sensible, in my opinion.

‘Di’ is the verb to eat.

‘Me di’ is therefore ‘I eat’.

‘Me pe’ is like.

However, to say I like to eat, it’s ‘Me pe se me di’ (I like to I eat)

In five days, I was only going to get a short distance, but I was always keen to try out my few words on anyone who would listen. I was unconcerned about making mistakes – much more unconcerned than if I had been speaking languages that I supposedly speak with greater competence.

All in all then, a great experience. Mostly because, as a linguist, there is no more natural position to be in than that of a language learner.



Blog Of A Visit to Ghana – Part 1: The Journey

My third visit to Ghana was very different to the first in 2011 and the second in 2013 (reflections here)

The reason? No students to share the experience.

However, that was not to say that there was not plenty to do.

Having had a partnership with our school in Ghana for more than 6 years, we have achieved a lot on our partnership journey so far. We took students to Ghana 2 years ago and have hosted Ghanaian teachers from the school in the UK. The one area that has been lacking though, is student-to-student communication and collaboration. This was one of the areas I wished to address on my visit this time.

Here were the overall aims:

1) To cement a good relationship with the new head teacher
2) To initiate and oversee a range of curriculum based projects which originated from our staff and students and to bring back responses from Ghanaian staff and students which would hopefully lead to much collaboration in the future.
3) To learn more about the Twi language and culture, which can then be disseminated through a range of assemblies and Ghana group meetings on my return.

So, that was my starting point.

Fancy a little Ghana experience?

Well, join me in the video below as I make the journey to school from my guest house in Akropong-Akuapem, Eastern Region.

To come in Part 2: The Projects