Those in the language learning community may be familiar with the concept of a “Six Week Challenge.” The basic idea is to spend six weeks intensively studying a foreign language in which you have low ability. Of course, you won’t be fluent by the end of six weeks, but you can make great progress and the whole process is a lot of fun.
I am announcing my own six week challenge, which I started this past Sunday, 7 October. The language I will be focusing on is Afrikaans.
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, closely related to Dutch, that evolved from the Dutch dialects spoken by South African settlers in the seventeenth century. It is widely spoken in South Africa and the Afrikaner diaspora and is allegedly mutually intelligible with Dutch.
There are several reasons why I’m going to be studying this language. Though I have known of its existence for some time (I met some Afrikaans speakers for the first time in 2010, first in a large international airport in the US and then in Amsterdam), I began to have an interest in it only this year, due to the fabulous blog Page F30, which has many fabulous Afrikaans-related posts. This post in particular is what sparked my interest: Why Afrikaans is (also) the easiest language for English speakers to learn.
Though I speak a Germanic language natively, I have never attempted to study one as a foreign language. German grammar scares me and though I love Germany and Germans, I have never been able to find much motivation to learn the language. Dutch appeals to me more because it sounds so pleasant to the ear (or at least to this English speaker’s ear!) and it is spoken in Belgium, a country whose politics I follow (don’t ask why; it’s a long story). But Dutch grammar sort of scares me, too, which led me to Afrikaans (whose grammar does not scare me).
Afrikaans has no grammatical gender, its verb system looks (relatively) logical, and I like the way it sounds when spoken. What better reason to learn a language, right?
Unfortunately, resources for learning Afrikaans are quite scarce. Here is what I have found so far:
- RSG (Radio Sonder Gense)
- RSG podcasts
- Openlanguages, the website of a professor who teaches Afrikaans (and is a native speaker)
It’s not a lot of resources, but it’s a start. I also have an Anki deck I downloaded and that I will be adding to throughout the challenge. If you know of any resources, please don’t hesitate to share them!