A Language, A Generous Heart

Ka Wai Ola

Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

There’s a growing trend and its a good thing for the Hawaiian language, namely the learning of Hawaiian without charge. For instance, in December 2019, the student legislature of the University of Hawaiʻi approved free tuition Hawaiian classes for the public. Kamakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies is searching for a native speaker or someone highly fluent in the language. Although this is a non-credit class, it is a blessing to those desiring to learn the native language of Hawaiʻi.

Here’s another Hawaiian language opportunity at no charge: last November the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (DOE) announced that they will provide free classes for department personnel. They are coordinating with the community colleges of the University of Hawaiʻi system. There are 13,000+ teachers and 22,000 support staff, more or less. About 35,000 people could potentially take these classes. In addition, teachers receive professional credits for attending.

It’s necessary for teachers in public schools to take these classes because Hawaiian is an official state language (see State Constitution, Article XV, section 4). In addition, the State of Hawaiʻi “shall promote the study of Hawaiian culture, history and language” according to the Constitution of the State of Hawaiʻi (see Article X, section 4).

Therefore, these laws counteract the law of 1896 that required exclusive teaching and learning in English. Because of the law, the DOE enacted a policy to ban the use of Hawaiian language in the schools. If a student spoke Hawaiian, he or she was punished. There are many well-known and painful stories of our grandparents in this unfortunate time of punishment and humiliation. Of interest is that this policy was not enforced for students speaking other languages.

But we are now in an enlightened time – a time for the Hawaiian language and languages of the world. There are numerous and varying methods to learn a language – not only learning in a classroom. These are a few free tools:


Duolingo: This is a free application. Just download the app from the web and learn during your spare time. You can use Duolingo on your computer or cell phone. According to Duolingo, four out of five people use their smart phones to learn through Duolingo. In the U.S. there are more people learning through Duolingo than all language learners in our schools combined. The great thing about this app is that you control your progress. You also choose the time that you want to learn. The mission of Duolingo is “to make language learning free and fun.” www.duolingo.com/learn

ʻŌiwi TV

Ka Leo ʻŌiwi on ʻŌiwi TV: Although the hosts are now older, the lessons are still relevant. Produced in 2012 by ʻŌiwi TV the thirteen episodes come with follow-along lessons for your learning. oiwi.tv/kaleooiwi/

If you already know the Hawaiian language and have a desire to improve your use of the Hawaiian language then search for the following. You can listen to the intonation of native speakers to make your Hawaiian sound more native.

The Interview Collection of Clinton Kanahele: There are 20 interviews of native speakers that Clinton Kanahele recorded in the 1970s. You can listen to native speakers and read their words transcribed, like Gus Kaleohano of Lāʻie or Solomon Kupihea of Keahapana, Kauaʻi. Of interest is listening to the male voice in speaking the Hawaiian of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kauaʻi, Molokaʻi and Oʻahu. library.byuh.edu/library/archives/kanahele


Kaniʻāina Archive: There are 417 programs in this archive recorded from the program, Ka Leo Hawaiʻi, the first Hawaiian language program on radio in the 1970s. These tapes are still used at the university and now the general public can listen to them too. Johnny Almeida is the first guest and Keoni and Lilian Kamaka are the last. The listener can “go” forward and back while following a transcript (for most) at the same time. ulukau.org/kaniaina/?l=haw

Follow #ehoopilimai: This is the Instagram account of Kahanuola Solatario of the musical group Keauhou. His mother is his student. Learn through repetition in a fun way.

The following are not free, but are guided and worthwile because of the social interaction.

Photo: Kumu Ipo Vaughn

Kealaleo: Kealaleo is a language learning method utilizing cuisenaire rods. It utilizes inductive strategy for learning language. The teacher doesn’t “explain” a lot but does demonstrate the concepts of the language with the cuisenaire rods. The student formulates how the language works (rules, etc.) It is inspiring and brain-stimulating. If interested, contact ipolaniv@yahoo.com

ʻAha Pūnana Leo

Niuolahiki: If you are interested in learning through Ke Kai ʻEwalu then see Niuolahiki. It uses an interesting method called by some the Pepeke Model. There are 25 lessons each priced at $30. The university quality lessons are worth the investment. niuolahiki.ahapunanaleo.org/

ʻŌlelo Online: Kaliko Beamer-Trapp runs this program. Kaliko was an immersion teacher; therefore, it is his desire to immerse the learner through story, grammar, and interesting facts about the Hawaiian language. oleloonline.com/guests/

Community School for Adults: There is but one Hawaiian language night class on all of Oʻahu. It is at Kalāheo School. They meet for seven classes on Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30. Call 307-1455 for details on registratiom.