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Six-year-old Denzel is our handsome young Kiwi Kid who’s learning Samoan together with his Kiwi Kid mum, Marlena

When you’re first learning a new language, it’s a good idea to memorize a few useful words and phrases that will help you to begin communicating with native speakers. The idea is to initiate a conversation so they can teach you more of their language, yeah?

We call these words and phrases, ‘toolbox language’, because they’re very handy to have in your language-learning toolbox.

So what toolbox words and phrases can help you begin learning the Samoan language?

Let’s say you’ve got a Samoan grandmother, or neighbour or friend from work, and they onlxy speak Samoan. They could be your perfect Samoan language coach! …as soon as you can figure out how to communicate with them.

How about we begin with, hello?

Greeting in Samoan

As you probably already know, the Samoan word for hello is, talofa!

You can also say, malo! …which is a more casual greeting.


Learn lots more Samoan greetings in this post ==> How to greet people in Samoan (18 examples with audio).


Polite Words in Samoan

You always want to know how to say please and thank you in any language you’re learning. The Samoan word for please is, fa’amolemole.

Fa’afetai is our word for thank you, and for both these expressions, adding the word lava makes them more heartfelt or sincere.

So… fa’amolemole, or fa’amolemole lava, and fa’afetai, or fa’afetai lava.

(By the way, you can also add lava to talofa and malo – to make your greetings extra enthusiastic. So.. talofa lava! and malo lava!)

Ask What Something Means in Samoan

Now, let’s get to the part where you can start learning from your native speaking friend.

A very simple learning activity would be to point at something and ask your friend what it is called in Samoan.

You could point at, say, a table and ask, “O le a le mea lea?” Which directly translates to “What is this thing?”… and then your friend can say, “O le laulau,” or, “It’s a table”.


Tell them you’re trying to learn

Most Samoans – even native Samoan speakers – are pretty good at English, too, so when they hear you struggling in Samoan, they’ll often – lovingly – switch to English… which is not what you want!

That’s why it’s important to let your Samoan speaking friend know that you’re actually trying to learn from them. One way to say this in Samoan is:

“E fia a’o la’u fa’aSamoa”

Let’s break this sentence down for you.

fia = to want

a’o = learn / teach / practice

la’u = my

fa’asamoa = (one way to say) the Samoan language

So next time your Samoan friend tries to speak to you in English, you can explain why you would prefer to try speaking in Samoan. You could say,

Oii malo, friend! Fa’amolemole, e fia a’o la’u fa’asamoa.