So I’ve known about this online language program for awhile – since August to be exact because I actually took a course through it during the month of October. For some reason or another though, it didn’t occur to me that this also fell into the realm of preserving and disseminating Hawaiian cultural heritage until recently. The first program I’m going to discuss (and the one I’ve tested) is Kamehameha School’s A’o Makua adult education program.
They have a few different classes, including 3 levels of language classes, genealogy classes, mo’olelo classes, and a new one called malama ‘aina. They also have classes for high school students to take as distance courses, and the students do not need to be enrolled in Kamehameha Schools to take advantage of these classes. Finally, they offer an adult education course for educators on how to incorporate Hawaiian culture into the classroom for all grade levels, which I think would also be beneficial to librarians for use, whether in a public or school library setting. Many aspects of cultural integration can apply outside of the classroom into other educational settings.
The class I took was the level one ‘olelo class. Everything was online and we had a class message board where we shared our biographies and any conversations we might want to have. Unfortunantly, the message board wasn’t utilized all that much and since I was already taking regular graduate studies courses my heart wasn’t into the program at all. They tried to institute a Rosetta-Stone type of learning experience, cutting out translation for the most part and trying to teach the Hawaiian language as though teaching it to a child by employing visual images and sounds. There was also a section where you got to record yourself speaking Hawaiian and then the online instructor critiqued you and gave you feedback. Apparently my Hawaiian pronunciation got worse and the course progressed, but apparently it wasn’t all that terrible. She did tell me though that I should listen to more Hawaiian music and things like that to help me speak it better.
The best part was the completion prize you got for doing all of the assignments in the course (it wasn’t graded, or even pass/no pass – you just had to make an effort to complete two voice recordings, an introduction to yourself in English, and answer their survey). I received a Hawaiian picture-word book and a set of those magnet words that you can stick on your fridge and re-arrange to make words. Sadly, though, I didn’t learn enough to make whole sentances out of the words that I was inspired enough to pop out. Maybe once school is over I’ll feel more inclined to be a better student….
All in all, it was a pleasant experience. I’d like to try one of the other online ‘olelo programs though and see how they compare.
Another Online ‘olelo class is: ‘Aha Punana Leo’s Online Classes (‘Aha Punana Leo are a group of schools dedicated to Hawaiian Language Immersion Programs and were the first of their kind)