Peace Corps Chinyanja Basic Course - Live Lingua Corps... Nyanja Basic Course will be of interest to

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  • Chinyanja Basic Course

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    Chinyanja, the principttlanguage of Malawi, is spoken not only in that country but by large numbers of Malawians in neighboring countries. This book is intended to give the student a start in the language, both by providing him with materials for study, and by guiding him in taking over more and more of the responsibilities connected with language learning. The goal is ability to speak a little Chinyi-lja well, and ability to learn as much more of it as is needed for individual work situations in Malawi.

    The present volume is one of a series of short Basic Courses la. selected African Languages, prepared by the For- eign Service Institute. It was produced in cooperation with the Peele., Corps.

    Many collaborators contributed to the lessons. AnLynio Boutcha, Zimani Kadzamira, Mike Mbvundul,, and Tneac Mouteni supplied tape recorded samples of Chinyanja. These and the related exercise materials were checked by Mr. Mbvundula, and also by Dearson Bandawe, Alex Kalindawalo,Samson Lwanda, Justin Malewezi, Cikungwa Mseka, and Emilio Msoke. Voicing of the tapes was by Messrs. Msoke, Lwanda, and Malewezi. Mrs. Linda Hollander assisted with production and checking of an earlier version.

    General organizing, editing, and preparation of notes were the responsibility of Earl W. Stevick. Assembling and editing of the tapes awed much to special techniques devel- oped by Gabriel Cordova, Director of the Institute's Lan- guage Laboratory.

    Howard E. Sollenberger, Dean School of Language and Area Studies

    Foreign Service Institute Department of State


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    Unhouseltd, disappointed, unaneltd, No reckoning made, but sent to my acount With all my imperfections on my head.

    Hamlet. Act I, Sc. 5.

    Like Hamletts father, the present course has been sent to meet its destiny

    with certain imperfections on its head. Some readers may therefore judge it

    !horrible most horrible,. This foreword is written as an interpretation of the course, in the hcpe that some unnecessary misunderstandings may be avoided.

    Most important, the Malawian authors of these materials are in no way

    responsible for the flaws which exist in this published version of their work.

    The course is based on impromptu conversations recorded by two of the authors.

    Parts of these conversations were then selected to serve as the !basic

    dialogues, for the units. Format, fur Lhe exercises and ucintent for the !auto-

    biographical, sections were suggested by the senior American collaborator, and

    these materials were then put into Nyanja by the Malawian authors. Every line

    in the book has been checked by two or more Malawians ior gellezal authentl-

    city, and most of it by three or more, but certain inconsistencies of spelling

    and word division are the result of too-hurried editing. Certain bits of

    dialogue and notes on grammar are repeated at two or more points in the course.

    Almost all these repetitions -- or treintroductionst -- were intentional, but

    in a few cases they would have been removed had time been available for a final

    reworking of the manuscript.

    Perhaps one of the stronger aspects of this course, particularly in

    comparison with other courses in the same series, is its emphasis on using

    the dialogue materials, outside of the classroom as well as in it, and on the

    !autobiographical, sections, in which the students are expected to supply words

    that are of personal and/or local significance to them. The assumption is that

    students learn most quickly, and with fewest repetitions, when the meanings of

    linguistic forms are most vivid to them while they are practicing them.

    In this and in other ways, students are required to assume definite

    responsibilities, not just for following instructions, but for contributing

    to the content and the conduct of the course. While this of course applies to

    every student in the class, experience has shown that it is also wise to have

    in each class one student who is responsible for reading the instructions,

    seeing to it that mechanical details go smoothly, and serving as a clearing

    house for questions, grievances, and other problems as they arise.

    Nyanja Basic Course will be of interest to language teachers because the

    actual preparation of the manuscript had to be carried out some hundreds of

    mites from the nearest speakers of the language. Contact between American and

    Matawian personnel was intermittent, for intensive periods of tape recording,

    checking of drafts, and classroom use of an earlier edition. The result

    displays many of the weaknesses that one would have predicted under such cir-

    cumstances. At the same time, however, it is felt that some new, positive

    possibilities in this kind of collaboration have been explored.


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    The senior American collaborator would like at this time to express his

    deep appreciation, both professionally and personally, to all of the Malawian

    authors for the truly remarkable patience and dedication which they displayed

    during our work together. Thanks are also due to Mrs. Linda Hollander for her

    help in preparing and checking the mimeographed and taped materials which were

    the preliminary edition of this course. Discussions with Dr. Guy Atkins,

    though regrettably brief, were exceedingly helpful. Dr. William Samarin super-

    vised Nyanja instruction during six weeks of a summer program in 1964. To all

    these persons, the senior American collaborator expresses his gratitude,

    emphasizing that blame for errors of fact or organization are not theirs.

    Work on this course has been made easier by the existence of Scott and

    Hetherwickts Dictionary of the Nyanja Language, and Thomas Pricets The Elements

    of Nyanja.

    Washington, D. C. June, 1965


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    Any student who begins this course has three handicaps. He is aware of

    the first one, but he is probably not aware of the second and third.

    1. poi knows no Nyanja. This course contains many useful sentences in

    the language, and covers the main points of grammar and pronuncia-


    2. He probably does not expect to use much of his own initiative when

    hsjEthdiesanae. In this course, the student is required to

    make many of his own observations, select part of the vocabulary to

    be used and dpRign scyme of the

    3. lieALL10taccsa.nuhinbetween 'learning a language'

    (which is an academic game) and 'learning (which

    is not necessarily academic and which can be much more fun). This

    course contains numerous directions for using Nyanja in real life

    outside of class. These directions are not merely suggestions; tkey

    Are an essential__Dart of the course.

    The course is divided into two main parts. The first consists of Units

    1-40, and the second of Units 41-63. In the first part (Units 1-40),

    emphasis is on learning to use those words and sentences that the student is

    most likely to need repeatedly during his first few weeks in Malawi. The

    principal points of Nyanja grammar are introduced, but they are not treated

    systematically, and there are few drills.

    In the second part (Units 41-63), the materials from Units 1-40 are

    reintroduced. This time, however, the units are longer, and more attention

    is given to mastery of the grammatical devices of the language.

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    Instructors who use this course will fall into one of two categories.

    Some will have had previous experience in teaching Nyanja, either to Nyanja-

    speaking children, or to European adults, or to both. These teachers will be

    aware that this course is organized as it is because it aims at teaching the

    student to be self-reliant in his language study. He will then be able to go

    on learning more and more Nyanja after he has finished his formal study of

    the language. This course is therefore quite different from other: lailyuaja

    courses that the students have used in school/and it is probably also quite

    different from language courses that the instructors themselves have used


    Other instructors will have had little or no experience in teaching any

    language. If these instructors will read and follow carefully the suggested

    procedures, they will find that this course is not difficult to teach.


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    A procedure for use with each new basic dialocial,

    1. Hearing before speaking, and speaking before seeing.

    The student should not look at the dialogue until after he has learned

    to pronounce it very well. He should not even glance at it briefly. If

    he looks act it too soon, he will almost certainly 'hear' - -or think he hears- -

    the sounds for which the letters stand in English or in some other European

    language. If he waits until after he has learne