LIHUE — Learning the Hawaiian language combines culture and community. A Sept. 8 workshop will teach how to speak the language through immersion techniques without using English or understanding grammar.
Hawaiian was originally a spoken language, not a written one, and oral techniques of instruction have proven highly effective. One such technique, the Kealaleo method, which means “the voice path,” teaches by completely immersing students in the language and culture.
The methodology adopted from native Maori language speakers uses color rods and large amounts of spoken language in contrast to grammar-based academic approaches. By capturing the language’s vitality and spirit, students develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the culture.
“I just want to spread the word about Kealaleo, because not a lot of people know about it,” said Emma Rogers, workshop director. “It’s a great chance for the public, if they really want to learn to understand or speak the Hawaiian language, instead of going to the university where you learn the book form. Kealaleo is more of the native tongue. … It’s actually how the local Native Hawaiians speak.”
Kumu Ka‘eo Izon, who began teaching Hawaiian language on Kauai in 2007, will share his extensive knowledge by utilizing the Kealaleo method during the workshop at Lihue Lutheran Church.
“I am indeed grateful to learn from knowledgeable people and not solely from the written word,” Izon said. “It is through Kealaleo, that I express my gratitude to Kumu Ipolani Vaughan and to all those who have helped me along the way and those who continually help me, to give back to Hawaii what was taken away so many years ago. It is my hope that each person who has the desire, continues to feed that iini to live Hawaiian.”
Izon began formal training in the style of Kealaleo in 2005 from Vaughan, one of five people to introduce this method of teaching to the islands. He dedicated a year to learning language and cultural aspects before instructing islandwide.
“His classes are interesting,” Rogers said. “Not only does he teach you how to speak the language, but at the end of the class he talks cultural. He ties in what he teaches you or what you’ve learned at class into cultural aspects.”
Language shapes our mind and helps us to comprehend our relationship to the world. Learning a new language can give us a renewed perspective to better understand our lives.
“My dedication lies with the preservation of the people, culture and language of this land we all call home,” Izon said.
The workshop will be held Sept. 8 at Lihue Lutheran Church from 6 to 8 p.m.
Participants are encouraged to RSVP by Sept. 1 because the class will fill up fast. Cost is $30.
Info: (808) 651-4203, kumukeao.com