Ndimayesa kuphunzila Chichewa

{I try to learn Chichewa}

Tomorrow I will return to my four hours per day of Chichewa instruction. Chichewa is the national language of Malawi, and is a dialect of the larger language Chinyanja, spoken by people across Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. Chichewa was the particular dialect spoken by the first president of Malawi, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu
Banda, and during the first ten years of his rule he made it the only language permitted on state radio and in the national press.

I started learning the basics of Chichewa last spring with Dr. Sam Mchombo at Berekeley. Then, last summer I took six weeks of intensive courses as the Centre for Language Studies at the University of Malawi.

CLS, 2010

I’ve returned this year for six more weeks. I am surprised by how much I remember, but I still struggle to converse with anyone by my teachers.

Speaking of my teachers…I have the same two as last year, and by now I consider them good friends. My primary instructor is Alick.

Alick at CLS, 2010

And the assistant instructor is Arnold.

They are both incredibly good teachers, of both the language and the culture. And, I’d say we spend about 75% of the time laughing, with only about 50% of that time laughing at ME.

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