Friday, April 24, 2009

Learning Albanian/Shqip

Almost every second of every day I’m THRILLED the Peace Corps sent me to Albania. The few “off” seconds I have here are when I think “Why didn’t they send me to Latin America, I ALREADY speak SPANISH?!?!” Those “off” seconds mostly come during my own frustration with the language. Don’t get me wrong, the Peace Corps language training is FANTASTIC- they really put a lot of effort into maximum learning and teaching for every learning style every day, but learning Albanian is HARD!

Six days of the week, I have 5 hours of class. I have two different teachers that switch off every other day. Luckily I live with only 3 other site mates right now, so the 4 of us get pretty individualized lessons. The Albanian language has 36 letters, and though the language is very phonetic, I have difficulty pronouncing the letters that don’t exist in English like the Albanian “ë” or “y” (e.g. dy (or 2) is pronounced like deux, but my mouth cannot change shapes to make that sound!) I also find myself constantly pronouncing words incorrectly, which means the meaning of the word changed, and usually it changed to something inappropriate and my host family laughs hysterically.

On the up note, I think I am doing well after 5 weeks in Albania. Two weeks ago we did a sort of scavenger hunt in small groups with the teachers around Elbasan as a test…and I did well according to the feedback! I guess after learning Spanish I know how learn the fastest, and it’s really just talking to as many people as possible. Normally I spend the afternoons and evenings talking to the little neighbor boys and shop owners. They understand me for the most part, and I am getting really good at understand what they are saying (which I think is my strong point). You can check out bbc Albania and watch a news video if you want to hear it for yourself. Better yet, plan a trip over here to visit and you can experience the language first hand. Hopefully I’ll be better by the time you come and you’ll be oh so proud!

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