Why have a mentor?
If you have never heard or had any exposure to the language you are trying to learn, and you are learning outside of a classroom setting, a mentor is invaluable. This is especially true if it is a tonal language. It doesn’t matter if you know how to formulate sentences if when you speak them aloud no one can understand what you are saying. A mentor can help you to perfect pronunciation and also make sure that you are forming phrases in appropriate ways.
How to find a Hausa mentor in Madison.
Based off of my own personal experience, here are some ways that you could go about finding a Hausa language mentor in Madison.
1. Reach out to the Union of Nigerians in Madison.
I was lucky enough that the language instructor at the time knew the president and was able to reach out for me. I also encountered other staff who were either members of, or knew other members of the organization. Whether it is through a member of the community, or you yourself, reaching out to the union is a good first step.
2. Reach out to the African Association of Madison.
There is a contact form right on their website and they are very friendly and quick to respond. They also host a number of events throughout the year that one could attend to not only practice language learning but also engage with the culture.
The above would both help you to find Hausa speakers that are living in Madison where you would be able to have face-to-face mentor sessions. Unfortunately there may not be anyone in Madison who speaks Hausa and you may have to focus your search externally. If outside the US, there are additional factors that you may have to take into consideration. For example, you could face barriers such as time zones and technological issues. Additionally your mentor may not speak English which could be both a positive and a negative.
1. Find other universities that teach Hausa language classes and reach out.
This is constantly changing but at the time of writing both Boston University and Harvard had courses. You could reach out to the professors teaching the course and see if they or someone they know could serve as your mentor. They may also have ideas on other places to reach out.
2. Use your network.
If you are studying an African language, there is a high chance that you know other people who are also connected to Africa. Reach out to them and see if anyone in their network would possibly be able to serve as a mentor for you.
It can be a very frustrating process, but with time, patience and a little effort, you should be able to find a mentor to help you make the most of your independent language learning.