Kūkulu Kauhale

Basically

The best way to summarize the method weʻre using is with this diagram. This method has three equally important parts to it and I guess itʻs really more of a cycle because you should just keep doing all three over and over again. This is whatʻs currently working for us and if you havenʻt already (and would like to), you can read about our experience here. Donʻt forget to check out some awesome resources to use with this.

The Kūkulu Kauhale Method

Explanation

ʻO ʻoe

I really hope I'm not the first one to tell you this, but you shouldn't trust everything you see or read on the internet. Same thing goes here. YOU need to set the standard for your learning. Our standard is that unless it is coming straight out of the mouth of a mānaleo in person or in a video, it could be wrong. Of course we don't have a mānaleo on hand most of the time so we'll do our best research and prepare to be wrong. Being wrong's not bad as long as you correct it. I promise you'll remember when you get things wrong more than when you get them right. 

Along with your standards, you need to be keeping yourself close to the reason why you're learning Hawaiian. It may evolve. I started because I thought it would be "cool." Now Iʻm learning because I recognize the change that has resulted in important relationships to me. I feel closer and more connected to my children, husband, and ancestors as we participate together in something that makes us unique. I also really want Hawaiian to come back full force to Hawaiʻi! I want the option to speak Hawaiian to people wherever I go.

You've got to do the grunt work or it won't stick. Have wehewehe.org bookmarked on your phone so you can look up words that pop up in your head all day long. If you tell yourself youʻll just remember the words and do it later - youʻre probably lying to yourself. I ask Malu for words all the time (cause he's like a walking dictionary), but I never remember any of the words he gives me compared to when I do the search myself.

Make it personal and find what works for you! Malu likes to read scanned copies of old newspapers that were written by Native Hawaiians from the 1830's to the 1940's. Shoot me! I would rather not do something so tedious. I like to talk to people and if I have to read, I read Harry Potter a me ka Pōhaku Akeakamai. It should be interesting and fun so figure out how to make it that way.

 

Ka ʻohana

The best place to practice and make mistakes is in the family. Close friends count as family too. Decide with them how much Hawaiian youʻre going to use and then hold one another to that. Malu and I set the goal about a year ago to only speak Hawaiian to the kids and to one another while the kids are awake and then if theyʻre asleep we can speak English. We've gotten closer and closer to this goal and now, if I ever start a sentence in English now, Malu will make a stink face and pretend like he doesnʻt hear me. Itʻs pretty irritating, but it works.

Thereʻs also a lot of repetition in the family, especially with kids. Repetition is key. Youʻll get really good at saying things like, "mai hoʻopā!" (meaning donʻt touch) or, "mai hoʻopā o paʻi ʻia ʻoe!" (donʻt touch or youʻll get smacked). Repeating the same phrases helps you learn new ones.

Speak Hawaiian with your family in public too. This will help you get comfortable using the Language with others. I remember one time I tried to say something in Hawaiian to Malu in a grocery store when he wasn't standing right next to me; I was so shy that I said it soft then had to say it 6 or 7 times more getting louder and louder each time until I was so frustrated he couldn't hear, I yelled it at him. I am sure no one remembered the language I spoke, just the crazy lady shouting at her husband in the check-out line. Iʻm not as worried about who hears me now. 

Practice, practice, practice with your loved ones. It's less embarrassing to be corrected by your brother than a classmate or coworker or someone on Instagram.

Ke kaiaulu

The community is where your language will get richer. Everything you do in the first two steps I mentioned prepares you for this one! After a year of studying on his own, Malu was able to carry out a conversation with speakers. It took me closer to two years and I still find myself choosing English over Hawaiian when I can use either. Not everyone has the same level of confidence, but youʻll learn a lot faster if you get over your insecurities.

Start first with listening. Anyone that you can get to talk to you in Hawaiian - get! Listen to everything that those people have to say. Youʻll be surprised by how little you feel you know once you hear others speak. You might even be surprised by how much you know! The first time I met a mānaleo in person, I thought my ears were going to fall off, but in a good way. Listening and Focusing are not my strengths so doing both for an extended period of time was character building for sure. With everything that you hear donʻt forget to verify it with your standards before branding it in your mind as correct. Doing this youʻll notice, will bring you back to step one.

Remember to please make the community a safe place. Language is about people, and the more the better! If weʻre only looking to point out the mistakes of others weʻll most likely miss our own and make it harder to accomplish the end goal of a Hawaiian Speaking Hawaiʻi.

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