Learning or speaking a Nigerian language whether you live in Nigeria or outside Nigeria is one of the easiest things in the world but unfortunately, many people still find this challenging. Nigerians trying to learn their Nigerian languages find this challenging not to talk more of foreigners trying to learn too. I have been sharing ideas with people outside the blog who want to really learn and I have been getting some feedback that these tips have gone a long way in helping.
So I thought was high time I brought these tips to you guys on the blog who are interested in learning to speak a Nigerian language. But then again sees this as a challenge. In Nigeria, we have 500+ languages. Yes, it’s plenty do not blame Nigeria. God made it so by giving men on earth different languages when he saw that we were trying to get to heaven without his permission.
As I said in Nigeria we have 500+ languages but we have 3 major languages that are the most common in Nigeria and they are Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. From my findings, Yoruba is the highest language in demand when it comes to learning a Nigerian language, especially by foreigners and even Nigerians who want to live in major cities like Lagos, Ibadan, and the like.
According to Google Igbo (Anambra Igbo precisely) is the highest in terms of search traffic of the language people want to learn in Nigeria. But we are speaking about this today. What we are talking about today is how to learn any of the languages. Whether it is the common ones in Nigeria or maybe even the less common ones like Urhobo, Ibibio, Fulfulde, Edo, Ijaw, Kanuri, Tiv in a period of 4 weeks or less and be able to speak.
As time goes by on the blog if the need arises I may go into details. Details on how to learn each of the languages in the simplest ways and speak them but today let us have an overview. About 24 years ago when I was 5 years old, I had moved around a lot with my mum because 3 years I lost my dad a few years earlier. If you are a follower of this blog know this story already.
As a lonely widow who had to take care of her child and herself, my hardworking mum had to move a lot. We moved not because we could not afford a standard apartment in Lagos. We had to scot. After doing this for a while we got some support from the church to get a room. One of the assistant pastors of the church then who was a medical doctor by profession gave us a room that was assigned to him in the general hospital he worked then. This was where I met these nice Akwa Ibomites.
They were our next-door neighbors and they were very friendly to me and my mum. They never saw me as a neighbor’s child. They treated me like their own child. I would eat with their children and play with them sometimes even sleeping in their room if my mum is running late from work. I did this for some time until I noticed one day they spoke a different language from that of my mum’.
The language was thick (if I can call it that way), it looked like Yoruba but it was certainly not Yoruba. I was not bothered about this because it did not matter. It was my second home. It continued like this until the day they had a disagreement with my mum. I cannot remember what the disagreement was all about but my mum and they had a serious exchange of words in the mother tongue.
After the verbal fights ended my mum came into the room angrier. She said in our dialect Yoruba ‘how I wish I could hear what she was saying when she was throwing insults at me. That day, I told her everything Mama Akwa Ibom said in her dialect and her jaw dropped. Even I was amazed at myself as little as I was then.
Looking back at those years I realized I learned the Akwa Ibom language Ibibio and could even speak some phrases just by living with an indigene. Recently, I also traveled to the east and I had to spend 1 week there for my friend’s wedding. And in the few days, I spent there I was able to speak core Igbo in phrases by using my regular tips.
So stick around as I will be sharing with you tips on how to master any Nigerian language in 4 weeks.
How to Learn and Speak a Nigerian Language
How to learn and speak any Nigerian language within four weeks.
1. Be Enthusiastic About Learning
This is the first step to learning any Nigerian language. From what I have gathered so far in teaching and learning I have realized it is impossible to learn when you’re not really willing to learn. I know this sounds like a cliché but it’s true. Many people say they want to learn Nigerian languages but this is not always the case – they are not really passionate about learning.
Most times when they say they want to learn it’s probably because they want to impress someone (their girlfriend, their bosses). Or the fact that they just like the Nigerian language the way it sounds. It’s not really because they want to learn and these reasons are not valid enough. I know people that have lived in Lagos right from birth and still, cannot speak a single phrase of Yoruba – the most common language in Lagos or even their own language. And this is due to a lack of being enthusiastic enough.
They hear Yoruba every wear, in public transport, at their working place, and even in church but still, they cannot speak. If you really want to learn our Nigerian language you have to be enthusiastic about learning. Look for a GENUINE REASON why you want to learn it. A reason that pushes you. A reason that makes you want to go all out.
A reason that will make you want to speak our language without really caring if you spoke the right way or not. These reasons might be to be able to communicate with Nigerians on a deeper level or to be to travel and live in any part of the country. I do not know, just look for a valid reason that wants to make you really learn. Do this and you’re a step faster to learn how to speak any Nigerian language of your choice.
2. Watch Nigerian Skit and Movies
This sounds so simple. Yes, but it goes a long way in the learning process. With the benefit of the internet (YouTube) and satellite TV. Now, you can learn any Nigerian language of your choice by watching Nollywood movies on YouTube and on satellite TV whether you live in Nigeria or you are outside Nigeria. Do not forget what we always say about habits which is “What you do every day becomes who you are”.
There’s no way you will not improve in any Nigerian language of your choice if you sleep and wake up with Nollywood movies. This is like reading and learning about money. If you form the habit of reading and learning about money for 30 days there will be a change in the way you see money. If you now do this for a longer period you will even become a guru when it comes to helping people with their financial problems.
So watch Nigerian movies as many as you can and try to pronounce some of the words as you’re hearing them from the actors. Who cares if you are getting it or not just try.
3. Use Nigerian Language Teaching Apps
There are many Nigerian language apps that can also help you to learn a Nigerian language and these apps are free at least some of them. You can find most of these apps on the google play store and as for the websites, you should find them just by searching on the Google search engine. Now, what is the trick behind this? The trick behind this is to learn a word every day.
When I say learn here I mean you hear the word, know the meaning, and try to pronounce it. Then once in a while, you can use it when interacting with Nigerians. It might sound strange to you in your first attempts, you might even be laughed at don’t be troubled as time goes by you will be able to speak it and speak it well.
Don’t forget it’s not about being perfect when speaking it’s about just knowing how to speak.
That is Cara Harshman also known as Titilayo Oyinbo. She nicknamed herself Titilayo after immersing herself in the Yoruba language (learning and Speaking) and she speaks Yoruba well. It might not sound like that if an indigene but she does not care.
4. Hang out with Nigerians
It is always good to hang around people you want to learn from. This technique worked for us when we were in school and it is still much relevant today. Remember the story I shared earlier about me living with an Akwa Ibom family and after some time I was able to listen and interpret their language? This still proves to me today how far you can go further just by moving with those you want to learn from.
For all you know, all the time you are hanging out with the Yorubas (let’s say you want to learn Yoruba) might be a hibernation mode until one day you just realize that you can understand and even speak Yoruba. I see this as a form of informal learning but it works if you do not underestimate it. You can also date Nigerian if you want to benefit from this at a higher level.
You can date an Igbo girl if you want to learn how to speak Igbo and as time goes by you’ll be able to understand Igbo and also speak.
5. Speak the Language often
This point still falls back on hanging out with Nigerians point because it is almost impossible to speak any Nigerian language if you don’t have anyone that connects you with it. My best advice here if you do not have any Nigerian with you where you stay or in your local community is to make friends with Nigerian online without any strings attached and the best social media community I will recommend here is Facebook.
Please while doing this (making friends on Facebook) do not exchange money or share your bank details with people. Just make friends and you will see as time goes by you not only be able to speak the Nigerian language of your choice you will also be a master in it.
It is not only about reading these tips that make you master (learn and speak) Nigerian languages. It’s also your ability to believe it is very easy for you and you can do this in a short period. What other techniques do know have worked for you when it comes to learning Nigerian languages? Share with us in the comments. We also want to learn from you.
Thank you! That is all in this article. As usual, let me know if I missed any part of this article.