Learning Tips

If you approach learning Louisiana Creole the way you learned English or the way you taught it to your children, then it suddenly becomes a much easier task. Language is about intimacy with self, communication and repetition. The following are some tips to help you imbed the language in your mind. Trust us, it works.

  1. Know the alphabet. This is paramount. The language is phonetic, but only makes sense when you know the alphabet, which includes diacritics/accents.
  2. Consult the Louisiana Creole Dictionary online for additional vocabulary.
  3. Label everything. Label as many objects as you can in your home with the word corresponding to the object in LC. If you desire it, you can go all out and print labels. But, you can just write the words on light-colored tape with a marker, or on a label. The label and word in Creole is what matters. So, on your cereal box, you can write “Séréyal” and on the fridge “Glasyær” and on your scissors “sizó” and so on.
  4. Shopping lists. When you make grocery, make a list of items needed, but don’t write them in English. Write them in Creole. “4 patat dous, 6 pimen dou, 10 laï, 12 zèf, di sik, di sèl, pwav, un galon lé, dilo, etc” It’s cool: you will be walking down the aisles of your market saying the items needed in Creole!
  5. To do list. To do lists we often have to repeat in our minds over and over. So, when you write your to-do list, write it in Creole. “Mo gin pou jwènn Matt aswá a 7:00 démin. A 1pm mo gin réinyon o biro. Sammdí no va lavé nô shar. Pa bliyé kité zordur pou ramasaj.” You’ll be at a stop light in your car and it’ll come to you: Ahhhhhh mo bezwin pélé Sandy dan 10 minit!
  6. Make a list of verbs. We all do something everyday, whether it’s breathing, sleeping, eating, and so on. Think of your daily routines and interactions. Jot them down on a piece of paper. Eat. Sleep. Cook. Clean. Work. Pray. Yell. Feed the dog. Feed the cat. Run. Walk. Curse. Whatever. Next to that list in English, write the equivalent in Creole. Don’t worry about conjugating yet, you need only be acquainted with the verbs/infinitives at this stage. Once you are, make yourself flashcards with each verb, and test yourself everyday, until you’ve them memorized.
  7. Expressing emotions. We all feel some way everyday, whether it’s “amazing” or “kagou.” Either way, we often say this to someone or to ourselves. Trust me, if anything, these will stay in your head. Check out some emotions here.
  8. Praying. If you pray, you can always start your day and end your night with the Nouzòt Popá. Some people say rosary daily, in which case the Sint Marí becomes important. These will get the sound and daily usage of the language in your mind.
  9. Be easy on yourself. It took you years to master your maternal language. How many corrections by parents, teachers, friends? We are always still learning to speak and we never entirely know all words, expressions and conjugations in any language. So, don’t beat yourself up to do the impossible. The key is to get key-routine words, phrases and actions into your minds. Once it’s there, it will take a hurricane to wash it away.
  10. Learn with family or friends. The more people you can get to learn with you, the more you create for yourself a network of people to use the language with daily, and the more you can learn from one another. One person will always have a strength where another has a weakness. Capitalize on that. Go over words, phrases and actions with your children – it’s the best gift that you can offer them.

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