Tamaiti means children, and Samoana is our word for all things Samoan… so Tamaiti Samoana means ‘the children of a Samoan world‘ – something like that. 🙂
This website is for Samoans who grew up understanding a little (or a lot) of our beautiful Samoan language, but don’t speak it fluently, mostly because we live in an English-immersed world.
Now we’re grown and we’re trying to pass our language on to our children, but we’ve got some catch-up learning of our own to do first… sound familiar?
Tamaiti Samoana is a collection of resources that can help us acquire Samoan – our own heritage language. The resources here will help fill some of the knowledge gaps we notice when we try to string Samoan sentences together.
Everyone learns differently. We’re just trying to give you the largest collection of Samoan language resources on the web so that avid language learners can read, hear and witness the Samoan language in action. We’ll also give you some tips for finding the best language learning methods for you.
Around 600,000 people in the world identify as Samoan, and only about half of us can hold a conversation in our language. That means the Samoan language is at risk of disappearing in a few generations.
Have you ever tried to translate something from Samoan into English and then realise there’s no English word for the idea you’re trying to express? Unless you can find another culture that thinks the way Samoans do, if we lose our language, we lose our unique perspective of the world.
Most importantly, language connects us with our elders and our ancestors. Many children of Samoan immigrants have trouble relating to our parents and grandparents because of cultural differences and, often, a language barrier. Just making an effort to better understand our language can help us understand and appreciate our elders a little more.
This stuff could heal families.
Most linguists agree that the best way to preserve our language is to teach it to our children.
It’s true that we can learn languages at any age, and generally, older learners are better at acquiring new knowledge (ask anyone who dropped out of uni in their youth, then came back to study years later).
But studies have shown that children under the ages of 7 or 8 are able to absorb a language well enough to speak it ‘naturally’ – i.e. with less inhibition and no accent – and that’s what we need for the Samoan language to survive generations.
One of our missions is to give Samoan parents – many of whom don’t speak our language well – tools that will help them teach their children Samoan.
Not that we’re we’re giving up on all the grown-up kids who want to learn! The resources you’ll find here are perfect for beginner Samoan speakers of all ages.
My name is Lillian Arp, but I usually blog as ‘Hamo Geek Girl’. I was born in Samoa – to Samoan parents – but I grew up in Hawaii, the Mariana Islands and New Zealand, where I continue to live now.
My family ran the Samoana Newspaper (1979 – 2006), the first Samoan-language publication ever printed in New Zealand. I started working in the family business when I was in high school, and then off and on for several years after. I did everything from desktop publishing and graphic design, to ad sales and general management, but my favourite thing was to help edit the articles.
Growing up, I understood a lot of our language, and whenever I visited Samoa, it would only take a couple of days for me to speak Samoan like a local (almost), but reading these newspaper articles – with all their formal words and deep cultural topics – piqued my interest in our ‘higher’ Samoan language. . .the language our elders and matai use. The language that requires, and inspires, some in depth understanding of Samoan customs and protocols.
I’ve been exploring the Samoan language and culture ever since, and have blogged about it for years now over at One Samoana.
The most common request I’ve received from readers of my blogs has been, “Please help me learn the Samoan language,” and most of those requests came from Samoans.
I have wanted to create a language learning solution for my dear readers for so long now, but…
On top of working for the family newspaper, I was also an English tutor (academic and ESOL) for over a decade, so I know a thing or two about teaching a language. . .and I know how difficult it is to create a language learning programme that actually works.
How many of you have taken a language course (online or off) and came out of it speaking that language fluently?
It takes a lot more than just working through a learning curriculum to confidently communicate in that language.
So, I decided to go back to university to study linguistics (and mathematics). I’ve got a little while to go before I finish my double major, but I have a much better idea now about how people acquire languages, and I’ve got a few learning methods I want to try out on you.
And thus, the birth of Tamaiti Samoana.
My cousin Marlena and her son Denzel are my first test subjects :)… you’ll see these very cute people in our videos and blog posts.
I’ve also recruited other cousins – Des and Chris, both Samoan born and raised – to help voice our audio samples… so you can hear how our language sounds in their native accent as compared to mine and Marlena’s more English-tinged accent.
Finally, my mother, Taimalietane Siioloa Arp, is probably the most important part of our team. She was the heart of our Samoan newspaper business for so many years and is now a professional Samoan translator. She helps to make sure my Samoan translations are correct and lends her voice to our series of Bible stories. She’s also been instrumental in my own, on-going learning of our Samoan language.
And whatever I learn, I will always pass on to you.
Have a look around. Do a bit of reading. Listen to some of our stories. Try a lesson or two. Leave a comment on a post…
We’re all learning here, so we love comments – especially questions you might have about the language, or even corrections if necessary, because nobody’s perfect. . .not even me.