Using oral techniques, vibrant visuals and an exciting and engaging curriculum, ‘Listen, Speak & Learn’ is the essential learning resource for those wishing to learn or brush up on their Twi (Akan) language skills.
‘Listen, Speak & Learn’ creator Michael Richardson, is passionate about keeping the Twi language and culture alive. We spoke to him to find out about the inspiration behind this exciting tool.
What is ‘Listen, Speak & Learn‘?
Listen Speak and Learn is a learning resource available to everyone to use as an introduction to learning, reading and speaking Twi.
How did the idea for ‘Listen Speak and Learn‘ come about?
After enduring years as a classic victim of one that understood the majority of my mother tongue but not being able to speak it, Listen Speak and Learn was born after a holiday experience to Ghana about 10 years ago. I painfully discovered that the only contribution I could make to family jokes was laugh. I felt like the “elephant in the room”. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I enrolled onto a Twi course as soon as I returned to the UK and once my confidence was up, I decided to help everyone else who had a passion to learn the language.
Why do you think it’s impotant for the next generation of Ghanaian children coming up to acquire these languages?
The importance cannot be measured. It is simply essential!!
When Italians move abroad and become foreigners in another land, they retain, uphold and pass down language, tradition and culture to future generations. Asians do the same, as do the Greeks, Spanish, Polish, Turks, Germans. As a matter of fact, through observation the only people that don’t are mainly Africans. All these nations uphold and reinforce everything pertaining to their culture because there is a general pride and understanding that “knowledge of self” identfies you and instils confidence. When you deny people of their language, their culture and traditions they don’t only loose their identity and heritage, we lose a whole generation.
A lot of children born in the diaspora are not being taught their language, why do you think that is?
This is one I’ve often wondered about personally. Mainly because most of these children are born to parents who speak their mother tongue as a first language In two parent homes, the parents tend to communicate to each other in their mother tongue as this is what comes naturally to them or you willl find that aunties, uncles and grandparents all speak to one another in their mother tongue but speak to the youth in english.
It is more of an effort to switch languages according to whom one is speaking to in the family especially when the language isn’t their first language. It breaks up the consistancy in the home and divides the unity because language unites people. To consciously communicate with your child in a language other than your mother tongue is definitely psychological. Doing anything that comes unnaturally takes effort. People aspire to do things that doesn’t come naturally when they value it. It is clear that in most African homes, there is more pride and value placed on speaking the english language than any other language. Unfortunately, it divides the family and sends a very negative message to the children.
Currently, the 1st volume of ‘Listen, Speak & Learn‘ is available to purchase online. Upon completion of this CD, what type of conversational skills can a beginner take from the program?
The DVD is very engaging and enables learning in small steps. It allows the learner to piece the words together through repetition until it’s all been absorbed. By the end of the first DVD, beginners will be able to express themselves in many useful sentences.
To become truly fluent, I recommend that the learner watches the DVD at least once a day. Like everything else, practice makes perfect.
Aside from the DVD, do you have any tips one can take to improve their language skills?
Perfecting a language requires two things. Practice and stimulation. Enaging regularly with someone that is fluent exposes you to uncompromised learning. You hear the language authentically and naturally. You have the added benefit of practicing the use of correct expression. In addition, I would recommend books as a vital resource as knowing a lanuage is a combination of understanding, speaking, reading and writing.
When attempting to practice find people who can speak the language, ensure that they are patience and understanding as this would go a long way to building your confidence.
From parents or family members teacing children, I would reccommend a simple rule, “If I speak to you in our native language, respond back in our native language, if I speak to you in english respond back in english”. This is a great way for both parties to practices their skills.
What has been the general response from the public about ‘Listen, Speak & Learn‘?
The general response has been pleasantly surprising. There have been second generation individuals who weren’t taught the language as children but are now parents and have seen this as a break in the “trend.” It has been useful to those that moved back to Ghana but were never taught the language, It has helped young adults who thought it was too late to learn their own language, The feedback from those in mixed marriages and or mixed heritage has been astounding. All these people had one thing in common; Language!! It’s such a powerful tool. All the responses have been both rewarding and humbling.
Where do you expect to see ‘Listen, Speak & Learn‘ in 5 years?
My vision for the next five years is to see many people competent and confident in speaking the language. I want to extend this service to those who have a passion for speaking other major African languages. Listen, Speak & Learn Akan Twi Volume #2 will be realeased on DVD format June 2015, along with our new online platform. We want to make resources available not just through DVD’s but books, online services and workshops that will focus on language and culture.
How can readers learn more and stay updated?
Readers can keep updated and learn more by visiting our website www.ListenSpeakLearn.com. I will also update readers through all major social networking outlets. Please continue to follow us on YouTube and Twitter.