Here’s what the various teachers I’ve had in Samoan class never told me over 20 years of learning with them: children’s books are the BEST way to learn basic and aoga (useful) gagana Samoa (Samoan language).
In some ways, that is a super obvious suggestion, but as an adult learner, you either feel silly for thinking about considering children’s literature or worse, patronised that your Samoan could be that taea (s@#t). Remember, this needs to be an activity you want to keep doing.
Moving forward, let me tell you about the best 3 texts I’ve come across so far that have improved my Samoan pronounciation, extended my vocabulary and *spoiler alert*, made learning more fa’aSamoa fun. Who would’ve thought?
Disclaimer: I am not related (by blood or otherwise) to any of the people below and do not receive any commission for recommending them. I also use the word “texts” here to include material, written by the same authors, illustrators and translators.
- Books written and illustrated by Momoe von Reiche such as “O le mata a Teli”, “O Afa” and “O le Afi”. von Reiche is an amazing artist, composer and really uses real Samoan (i.e. Samoan that you’ve grown up hearing amongst common peeps) and tells Samoan stories that are nuanced, memorable and informative.
- The Samoan Picture Dictionary, published by Rakino Publishing. It’s beautifully illustrated, uses everyday words in both English and Samoan and very practical. Odd things about it is there is no authors credited (My suspicion is that the Samoan translations are by the awesome Ainslie Chu Ling-So’o), some words and example sentences are incorrectly spelt and that there is no index, which for a dictionary, is just painful.
- Any “Sunshine Books” stories that have been translated into Samoan. Wendy Pye Publishing is a genius who translated excellent kids stories to begin with by well-known authors such as Joy Cowley, Jill Eggleton and Brian and Jill Cutting, into Samoan. Titles to begin that are fitting with a Samoan sense of humour are, “O le ulutiga a Tama” by Joy Cowley, “O Lo’u Atalafoia” and “Fusi A’u”, all translated by Ainslie Chu Ling-So’o.
In the picture is also the Samoan translation of “Where the Wild Things Are” or “O Le Nofoaga O’loo ia meaola uiga ese”. A superb book which makes the story of the uluvale white kid a little bit easier to bear! Read my list first and then head to this book.
These works are all found in the Auckland Libraries systems. You can also Google the people and publishing houses involved. Manuia le faitau tusi!
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