Well, I haven’t mentioned for a while about my quest to learn how to speak Bisaya. Don’t worry, though, that doesn’t mean that I’ve given up, I just haven’t been talking about it for a while! I didn’t want to wear out the topic. But, a few people have asked me about it via e-mail, so I thought I’d post an update.
Everything is still going very well in with my Bisaya Lessons. I am moving ahead all the time. There are a total of 60 lessons in two different books for the entire course, and I just finished up on Lesson 17. We generally do one lesson per week, although there have been times when we have taken a second week on certain lessons if I felt that I needed a review. So, I have been studying a little over 5 months now, and have completed the first 17 lessons. The first book, which I am studying from contains lessons 1 through 30, and every day it seems like the remainder of the book is getting smaller and smaller, which makes me feel good.
At this point, I really know how to form sentences. I have no problem making complete and proper sentences. My biggest problem is that sometimes there are things I want to say, but I don’t know all the words yet! But, I do learn new vocabulary all the time. At this point, I know probably 500 to 600 words, and I learn maybe 20 to 30 new words every week. So, my vocabulary is building up, which I like.
In the past, when I have tried to learn Bisaya, my former teachers have always started out by teaching me words. I learned a lot of words (which is still beneficial to me, because I know words now that have not even been taught to me on my current lessons), but I didn’t know how to make sentences with those words! With my current teacher, Bebe, our lessons have been focused in on learning how to make sentences and to use proper grammar, and this has made it actually very easy to learn the language!
In the last couple of weeks, I have gotten particularly interested in learning more and more of the language. Almost every night after dinner I like to sit down with my nieces and play around with them, usually regarding Bisaya. I will kind of quiz them on words, kind of showing off the new words that I have learned. Sometimes I will find that I have learned new words that they don’t even know! You know, in Bisaya, as most languages, there are sometimes multiple words that mean the same thing. So, sometimes a new word that I learn is different than the word that my nieces know for the same thing. This makes it kind of fun, because I will tease them that I already know more Bisaya than they do. It’s all just kind of a joke, but we have fun with it.
One thing that I have learned during my lessons is about how people from here speak English. There are many times that I hear people from here using incorrect words in their English, and it seems that most of them make the exact same mistakes as the other. In many of these instances, I now understand why. By learning their language, I can see how if it were translated back to English there are common mistakes that would be made. I consider this to be an important part of what I’ve learned. Because of these things I have learned it helps me not only learn their language, but it also helps me understand their English better than I did before. In the past, when people would say certain things to me in English, it didn’t really make sense, but now I understand what a lot of those things mean. It’s an interesting process.
Learning Bisaya has not only been the right thing to do, I have been finding it fun and interesting. I have lived here for nearly 8 years, and I really realize now that I was wrong for having waited this long to learn to speak the local language. This is an important part of living here, an important sign to people that I want to be part of their society, etc. I wish I had done it sooner!
And… I can’t wait to finish!