Finding a language mentor or conversation partner can be a difficult task for independent language learners depending on their individual needs. For example, some language learners prefer to have a language mentor who lives in the same city so that they can meet and communicate in person, but they do not know any local Luganda-speakers. Others may not mind if their partner lives in another part of the world, but because of economic, technological, or other limitations, a long distance mentor is not a realistic. And still others might find a long distance mentor attainable and even ideal, but do not know where to look or how to cultivate a relationship. Here are a few ideas for finding a language mentor to help learners with a variety of needs and resource accessibility.
1) Start at your own or a local university
Even though most universities do not offer Luganda language courses, there are still departments and programs on campus that can help you meet Luganda-speakers and instructors. Search through the faculty online of African languages or African Studies departments. There may be faculty members from or specializing in Uganda languages or studies. If so, email them to see if they know any Luganda speakers or instructors. You can also ask faculty members or graduate students you find on department websites if they know of any related community groups or events that could create opportunities for you to meet Luganda-language speakers. If you do not have luck within individual departments, you might want to ask if that university has a Center for African Studies or other programs that could also be helpful.
2) Utilize Academic listservs
Africanist scholars and students have become increasingly connected through online platforms and communities. Joining these communities, such as H-Net, allow members to communicate with one another through email listservs and online discussion forums. You could send a message to the H-Africa listerv (though there are many others too), and ask if anyone knows a Luganda instructor. This could also be a great way to connect with other Luganda learners.
3) Social Media
Social media platforms like Facebook are incredibly useful resources for independent language learners. There are several pages dedicated to Luganda-speakers and Uganda- related groups. The great thing about social media is that it is not exclusive to university students and academics. Anyone can join these groups or view these pages, and you may find a conversation partner (or partners) in unexpected places.
Uganda Studies Association Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/128988362021/
4) Reach out to Ugandan language programs
If you are willing and able to have a long-distance language mentor, there are several great instructors, programs, and schools in the Kampala metropolitan area that are eager to take on more students. City Language Center is the main place where Luganda speakers go for lessons in Uganda. They will put you in touch with an instructor and can help set up lessons via Skype. Makerere University’s African Languages department also accommodates Foreign students, and support establishing relationships between American and Uganda Luganda students.
City Language Center Kampala:
African Language Program at Makerere University: http://llc.mak.ac.ug/departments/african-languages