Check out HaitiHub’s first feature video! And visit www.haitihub.com for more!
Now that HaitiHub and Sweetcoconuts have partnered to provide more real-time conversation classes, many people are asking similar questions. Hopefully this FAQ provides some answers. Leave a comment if you have any other questions. N’ap mete tèt ansanm!
Q. I have learned a lot from the Sweetcoconuts blog. I know Mandaly (the creator of Sweetcoconuts) is now teaching conversation classes with HaitiHub. Can you explain more about HaitiHub?
A. HaitiHub is dedicated to providing high quality Haitian Creole learning resources to native English speakers who are passionate about Haiti’s better future. HaitiHub helps people learn Creole using real-time conversation classes that happen as Skype conference calls (one teacher with no more than four learners). You can always visit www.haitihub.com for more information.
Q. What kind of class is Mandaly teaching?
A. Mandaly has designed an Intermediate Creole Conversation course. The course is 8 sessions long and meets Monday through Thursday for 2 consecutive weeks on Skype. Each Skype class will be 1 hour and 15 minutes. The Intermediate classes will use popular Creole stories to launch lively discussions that will strengthen listening comprehension and speaking skills – the 2 most important skills for an intermediate Creole student to develop. They will also use interactive exercises and role-playing to improve fluency in a range of situations such as asking for or giving directions, speaking in more detail about yourself, making purchases in Haiti, interacting in the street, and telling time.
Q. Who is this Intermediate class for?
A. This course is designed for Creole learners who have already finished HaitiHub’s Introduction to Creole Conversation Course or who have otherwise attained a comfortable understanding of Creole fundamentals – pronunciation, vocabulary, tenses, verbs, possession, contractions, comparisons, and asking questions.
Q. What if I’m not quite at the Intermediate level yet?
A. The HaitiHub Introduction to Creole Conversation level could be a good fit for you. This is the class to take if you are a newcomer to Haitian Creole and want to be speaking and connecting with people quickly. It is an immersive class that meets Mon-Thurs for an hour each day for 2 weeks total. Clear a bit of time in your work schedule and you’ll be speaking Creole in just 2 short weeks. The Intro class is built around the book “Creole Made Easy: A Simple Introduction to Haitian Creole for English speaking people.” This book (available for $14 at Amazon) is made up of 16 short lessons. The class is taught by Carlo Diy who has lived and worked in Haiti extensively before and after the earthquake with several International NGO’s.
Q. What do I need to sign up for a HaitiHub class?
A. Visit www.haitihub.com and click on the large link that reads: “Click here to register as a new student.” Once you are registered with HaitiHub, you can visit the “Take A Class” section of the website and sign up for the class that works for you.
Q. What does it cost to take a HaitiHub real-time conversation class?
A. Both the Introduction and Intermediate level classes are $160 for an 8-session, immersive learning experience. Payments on the HaitiHub website are handled by PayPal – the gold-standard of secure online commerce.
Q. What if HaitiHub isn’t right for me at this time?
A. That’s no problem. Both Sweetcoconuts and HaitiHub are cheering you on as you advance towards Creole fluency! We want you to reach your Creole language goals whether you sign up for a class or not. You can find significant free resources on both Sweetcoconuts and HaitiHub as well as links to other learning tools that may be a better fit for you.
Q. What is Skype?
A. Skype is a free program that allows you to make free “phone calls” from one computer to another. Practically all volunteers in Haiti use Skype to communicate with folks overseas. Click here to learn more about this fantastic, totally safe, totally free service.
Flashcardmachine.com is yet another great, free resource to help you acquire more Creole vocabulary.
Users can create their own personalized sets of flashcards and then use the Flashcard Machine website to study and quiz themselves. You can randomize your flashcards and flag cards that you would like to be tested on more often.
HaitiHub has made available to everyone a list of 75 of the most important Creole vocab words to help you prepare for an Intro to Creole Conversation class.
You can click here to start learning and quizzing yourself right away.
Keep an eye out for more useful sets of free flashcard from HaitiHub.
And if you create your own sets of flashcards and want to share them with the HaitiHub community, you can select the option on the Flashcard Machine website to make your flashcards searchable. Just make sure to include “Creole” somewhere in the description of your flashcard set so that other Creole learners can find it!
Not sure how this one was left out of the earlier post about Creole listening comprehension exercises!
The University of Kansas Institute of Haitian Studies has published some of the most popular Creole learning resources over the years.
Currently, Ti Koze Kreyol, Chita Pa Bay, and several other books are available completely free for download from the KU website:
In addition to the full texts, audio downloads are also available for free. The audio file for Ti Koze Kreyol, in particular, is a great way to hear native speakers role playing every-day situations. You’ll need a basic understanding of Creole vocab and constructions before being able to use Ti Koze Kreyol as listening comprehension practice, though. So if you are just starting out with the language, other materials are easier introductions to the language. Check out the Survival Creole link at KU or pick up Creole Made Easy on Amazon.
What a ride it’s been! Since starting HaitiHub as a small side project in December of 2009, we’ve taught a lot but also learned A LOT and received great feedback and constructive criticism from current students, potential students, and HaitiHub alumni. We can’t thank you enough for your input.
You’ve helped bring HaitiHub to a point in its development where we are ready to take the next steps in our progression. Some of these changes are pretty significant so we’d like to make sure to explain our strategic thinking for growing HaitiHub, defining HaitiHub’s goals, and improving how we help people learn Haitian Creole.
Until this point, HaitiHub has consisted almost entirely of 8-week Introduction to Creole Conversation classes. These classes have had 1 teacher for 4 learners and they have met once a week for an hour at a time. They’ve typically been offered during the week after 5pm or on weekend mornings to fit around people’s work schedules. The classes have been designed for no one type of Creole learner in particular; rather we’ve structured things as broadly as possible for anyone who wants to learn the language. And the classes have been offered for free.
Over many months, we have re-realized that HaitiHub’s biggest goal is to change the larger culture of humanitarian aid in Haiti by providing those who work in the country with language resources that will lead to more meaningful collaboration with local leaders, more sustainable solutions developed with local communities, and deeper experiences overall with Haitians.
Taking this as our starting point and designing around it, HaitiHub’s structure will shift considerably from what has been done up until this point.
Change #1: Instead of creating unfocused learning tools with no particular learner in mind, we have decided to focus our efforts on the Creole learner who works or volunteers full-time with an organization devoted to Haiti.
The Reason: These are the people who are in the best position to use Creole to immediately impact the implementation and policy of humanitarian aid in Haiti. These are the people most likely to work regularly and long-term in the country.
Change #2: Instead of scheduling HaitiHub classes mostly during after-work hours or weekends, we will increasingly offer classes during monday-to-friday work hours.
The Reason: Full-time employees and volunteers of Haiti-focused organizations are able to devote work hours to learning Creole. Not only does this begin to prioritize the importance of Creole fluency in NGOs’ organizational cultures, it means that HaitiHub gets to engage with learners when they are fresh and more energetic (instead of at 9pm-10pm after a full work day, as has often been the case).
Change #3: Instead of meeting once a week for 8 weeks, courses will be intensive sessions that meet 4 times a week for 2 weeks.
The Reason: For language learning, nothing is as good as living in a foreign country. But in the absence of that opportunity, re-creating an immersion experience as much as possible, even if only over Skype, is essential. Meeting 4 times a week will allow learners to get deeper faster with their language development. It will also reduce the number of people who start but do not finish a HaitiHub course due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts.
Change #4: Instead of being free, learners will have to pay to participate in HaitiHub’s real-time conversation classes.
The Reason: Earned revenue will allow HaitiHub to create more learning resources, train teachers, work on a new Creole book, maintain and improve the website, expand our social media presence, and support a very lean 3-person team as we grow the HaitiHub community. Without income, HaitiHub’s growth is unsustainable.
These changes will unfold over the next 30 days. We will certainly keep you updated both here at the HaitiHub blog and via email.
“So what does this mean for me?”
For those of you who work or volunteer full-time with Haiti-focused organizations, these changes will amount to a HaitiHub experience that is designed specifically for you and your language needs.
For those of you who happen not to work full-time with an organization (and there are many of you: wonderful adoptive parents to first-generation Haitian-Americans to fans of Haitian music and culture) your motivations for learning Creole are every bit as valid and valuable. And you are of course still welcome to sign up for HaitiHub’s real-time conversation classes. It is simply our strategic plan that by designing language resources with one type of learner in mind, we will be able to more quickly gain traction, become sustainable, and grow. This will translate into a more robust HaitiHub community sooner as well as more resources that we can offer to everyone for free.
As always, we’re so grateful to be on this journey with you. Your feedback and insights are most welcome. Leave a comment or shoot over an email to haitihub (at) gmail.com.
Mesi anpil zanmi nou yo!
HaitiHub students often ask what the best ways are to expose themselves more to spoken Creole. In between HaitiHub classes, practicing listening comprehension skills on your own will help “train” your ear, it will introduce you to popular expressions, and it will reinforce the vocab base you already have. What’s more, most of the Creole audio resources out there are pretty fun and interesting, whether it’s lessons, music, or interviews. Win-win-win-win if you ask us.
So here’s a short list of some of our favorites:
Haiti Net Radio is a great resource for both Creole music videos and TV news. Just click through the different channels for different programming. Everything streams so no downloads are necessary. You may need to allow Media Player to run on your computer. Haiti Net Radio also has a facebook page.
Mandaly Claude Louis-Charles’ blog Sweet Coconuts is a wonderful resource FULL of a lot of really useful tools. You can ask Mandaly any Creole question and she’ll respond the same day. She also posts mini audio-lessons regularly. It’s a good way to practice correct pronunciations and learn some new expressions. Also, stick around for the Creole song that usually follows every audio lesson – Mandaly’s got good music taste. (thanks to HaitiHubber Corrine for suggesting this!)
For more music, visit Grooveshark at www.grooveshark.com and search “kreyol.” Grooveshark will return a nice selection of songs that you can listen to immediately. Grooveshark is a very safe, established company so there’s zero risk of any malware or spyware or any of that junk getting onto your computer.
Radio Soleil Live is a Creole station based in New York. For news and talk – click “Click here to Listen to Radio Soleil Live” and then you can decline the registration info and still listen to the programming. (The other links don’t work, only the one that says “Click here to Listen to Radio Soleil Live.” Also, programming here alternates between French and Creole, so if what you’re hearing doesn’t sound like Creole, it may not be…)
Creole Made Easy offers audio CD’s for those who would like to hear pronunciations for the vocab and exercises in the text. It’s not cheap, but is a nice enough companion to the written material.
As mentioned in an earlier post, for those with iPhones, there are a few good Creole resources such as Byki’s free Haitian Creole app and the Creole flashcard system from Brainscape. Both of these apps are of high quality and provide good audio pronunciations from native speakers. I’ve heard a bit about good Creole radio apps for the iPhone and Android phones but the ones I’ve found have been expensive and/or poorly reviewed…I’ll update this post when we find one worth recommending.
That’s a start. What else are you using to help with your listening comprehension? Leave a comment.
Meetup.com has been around for a while now (I think since the early 2000′s). It’s a very useful place online where anyone can make a group based on a particular interest and start organizing occasions for the group to get together (and “get together” means actually in the real world going to the same place physically to socialize).
If your thing is poetry and you live in Austin, TX, you can find a Meetup group that shares your interest. If obscure model airplanes is your thing and you live in a tiny town somewhere, you can always start your own Meetup group and invite others to it.
There are just a handful of Meetup groups for Haitian Creole. And if you’re lucky enough to be in New York or Boston, you should definitely check those groups out!
HaitiHub is looking forward to starting a Meetup group here in Durham, NC this month and to creating a Creole conversation Meetup “tool kit.” Something that we can put on the resources section of HaitiHub.com or send out via snail mail to anyone anywhere interested in starting a Creole language Meetup. The toolkit will include conversation starters, ice breakers, suggestions for simple language games, and best practices for hosting a language Meetup.
Keep an eye out for a HaitiHub Creole Meetup coming to a city near you!
p.s. You may have to start it. fyi. =)