Today we had our first official Nepali language class. I was actually really eager to start our lessons as it was getting a bit frustrating not knowing how to have basic conversations with the locals. We have found so far that most Nepali people speak at least some basic English (more so of course in the Thamel Market) but I personally would like to attempt to meet them half-way and go beyond the “Namaste” greeting.
Class was held at the Cross-cultural Learning Point (CLP) Nepal Centre between 9am to 3pm. Our excellent instructors have been teaching the Nepali Language to volunteer groups for over 10 years and they are very friendly and patient.
Our first hands-on demo task was to identify fruit and to converse with people by holding/or touching them with our hand and pointing them. It may sound a little childish but honestly, it was the best way to learn (in any language I imagine).
The task needed 4 volunteers (two male, and two female) and my fellow Canadian volunteer decided to nominate me (I think he anticipated that I was going to nominate him and thus he beat me to the punch). I was nervous at first but I really got into it as our instructor really made it fun and interactive. She took out 4 fruits one-by-one (a banana, pomegranate, apple, and orange) with one hand followed by a cue card with the name of the fruit in the other hand. Each of the 4 volunteers had to repeat the name of the fruit in Nepali. For the next 20 minutes, we were identifying what they were (ho) and what they were not (honai). Repetition and learning with very little to none English translation assistance during the process was key. It forced us to avoid translating the words in our heads and to figure out the grammatical patterns without using our preconceptions to how sentences should be formed.
For our small group session, we were taught how to converse in the following topics:
- How to ask and say our names
- How to ask and answer where you are from
- How to ask and answer where your house is
- How to ask what his or her name
- How to make true or false statements of the above and
- How to count from 1 to 10.
During our breaks, I also found out how to properly say “How much is this? (Ka ti Ruppee?), “See you soon!”, “Class is over”, “Thank you very much!”. This was such a relief to know as when we meet any new Nepali, I can now last a little bit longer in a conversation (yes, increased conversation endurance). Tlell, Helen, and I were very eager to learn more but alas the end of the day had arrived.