Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 8, 2011 6:10 PM--Languages

Sometimes I don’t really like to sit in the staff room for long, but sometimes I find it totally fascinating.  I don’t always like it because the other staff members usually talk in Runyankore or a mix of Runyankore and English (which sometimes is just as hard to understand).  On the other hand, sometimes I really enjoy sitting in the staff room like a fly on the wall.  I know enough Runyankore to know when that is the language they are speaking, but you can also find them sometimes speaking in other languages (not English).  Swahili is pulled out quite often because it is taught in the schools.  I talk to the Swahili teacher sometimes and he likes to teach me a word or two here and there.  You can also hear some Lugandan.  Sometimes people on the TV might be speaking it and those who know it will do a little translating.  Today they even started talking about French.  Of course, all together they might know only twenty words, but I still found it interesting.  I guess I also find all of this so interesting because many Americans wouldn’t even be able to know what language you are speaking, let alone actually know a second language.  Of course, I don’t know too many people like that especially considering I surround myself with people who like to speak Spanish on and off just for the fun of it (not that I mind at all…I love trying to learn Spanish).  I usually don’t think of Ugandans as being very well educated.  There are some serious flaws in their education system, but yet they are definitely ahead of the game when it comes to languages.  Think about it.  All Ugandan children learn in English, a language that is not a first language for anyone here.  Although on the other hand, this is one of their flaws in their education system.  Yes, they know English, but do they know it well enough to be able to understand the lessons being taught.  Some of these kids have trouble learning anything in school because they don’t know English well enough.  Uganda is a country full of languages.  I think there are 54 languages spoken throughout the country.  54!  Imagine being only a few hours from your home and not being able to understand the local language and to have the only way to effectively communicate by speaking in a national language (which are English and Swahili).  It’s hard to imagine, but for Ugandans, this is reality.  No wonder they have a hard time advancing their economy.  If you can’t effectively communicate, how are you going to get anywhere?

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