We finished the ‘beginner’ Swahili textbook last week. What does that mean?
Grammatically, we can now give reasons and explain consequences, use relative pronouns, describe things and people, include time references, make comparisons, and say things in both the active and passive voices.
Conversationally, we can talk not just about what we did but how we feel. We don’t have to pre-think every sentence before we say it; and we don’t exhaust our language ability in each interaction!
But there’s still a long way to go! We’re still pretty much working off key words and context clues when someone speaks to us, especially if they’re speaking fast (read: normally!)
Below is a new example of a journal entry. You can see there’s the same general shape as last time, but with some of the details filled in.
From here on, we both have ‘assignments‘ to do. The focus is on fluency in every day situations. My first task is to go to a ‘mother and baby’ clinic. It’s a cultural exercise as well as a language exercise because I’ll be learning in Swahili about how Tanzanians think about baby care. I’ll write about it in my journal but in class, rather than reading out a prepared entry, I’ll have to answer impromptu questions about my visit!
On Thursday after I woke, dressed, breastfed Elliot and boiled the milk, I started to make uji for Elliot. However, then Mama Velo arrived and started doing it instead of me so I read some emails. After that, I walked to the school with Elliot on my back to meet Nicholas. On the way, I chatted with some women who told me off because Elliot wasn’t wearing socks. I forgot, because babies have to wear more clothes here than in Australia. Because I stopped to talk to the women, Arthur arrived at CAMS before me so he picked me up when he passed me. We picked up Nicholas and returned home together. Then Arthur and I looked on the internet for news from Australia to see if Julia Gillard is still Prime Minister. I was happy to see that she is. Then we learnt Swahili outside under the trees while Elliot tried to eat the flowers which, in Australia, are called ‘frangipanis’.
After class we ate lunch and went into town to pick up my blouse from the seamstress. It was too small around the front so she is fixing it. However, when we got there it wasn’t done and she told me to come back tomorrow but I don’t know if I believe her since on Monday she told me to come back on Thursday but it wasn’t done. I will be happy when my clothes are all fixed because I don’t like asking the seamstress to change them and I don’t think she likes it either!
When we got home, I talked with my twin for 2 hours on Skype while I cooked biscuits and passionfruit curd for Nicholas and his family. However, I won’t give it to him yet because passionfruit curd is nicer after three or four days than it is on the first. I talked with Steph for nearly two hours and I enjoyed this a lot.
Later, Arthur and I saw that Elliot has learnt to clap! I fed Elliot while Arthur read to us from Mark in the Bible, first in Swahili and then in English. It was about the man to whom Jesus gave sight and at first he saw people who looked like trees but later he was able to see very well. While Arthur bathed Elliot and read him a book, I cooked dinner. Elliot fell asleep while he was being breastfed so Arthur put him in his cot and we ate dinner. We watched a little bit of TV while we ate before we did our homework, brushed our teeth, read our books and went to sleep.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.