When participating in self-directed language study it is essential that you find a mentor that can help guide your learning. The mentor should not create lessons or act as a teacher, but should be a person to help strategize, correct when needed, and ultimately act as an important resource throughout your study. The importance of what a mentor is and how the relationship should operate is discussed in several blogposts on this site. This post however will focus more specifically on finding a mentor in Kpelle.
Finding a Kpelle Language Mentor- Resources, Websites, and Organizations
While it is great to find a mentor within one’s immediate area or community, this is not always possible. However, given the wonders of technology having a native language mentor in your community is no longer a necessity in order to actually learn the language. Instead, it is quite easy to find language mentors of really any language via the internet. One of the best places to find a language mentor is on social media, especially Facebook. Simply doing a search on a web browser or on Facebook itself on the language you are studying or topics connected to the language (for example in simply typing “Liberia”) can result in several Facebook groups on such topics/themes. While some of these groups are closed, feel free to message group administrators. It may feel weird or that you are intruding on these spaces, but don’t let this fear or anxiety keep you from at least attempting to reach out to others. You may not get an immediate reply, but often there are people willing to engage and who may know of people potentially interested in being a tutor, mentor, or conversation partner. Outside of social media platforms, also search out NGO’s and Universities within the country. Many NGO’s will have language tutors for their international staff, and therefore may be able to point you to organizations or instructors who could help. Several Universities also have courses on the language and may be able to put you in touch with professors, student or simply provide useful learning resources. A final organization to always check with is the Peace Corps (if they operate in the country). The Peace Corps often trains their volunteers for at least three months of language instruction, with the volunteers then encouraged to continue their language learning while at their sites. As a result, the organization and volunteers themselves often know of excellent language instructors and language resources. Like the other organizations/groups they may not immediate respond to emails or requests, so also try to connect with current or past Peace Corps volunteers through social media.
Key points to remember:
1) Figure out your goals of language learning and how a mentor will help you reach your goals.
2) Search your immediate community and network for language mentors, but don’t worry if you can’t find anyone.
3) If you don’t find anyone in your area or through your network, look online.
4) Social media (such as Facebook) is an excellent way of finding a language mentor.
5) Contact NGOs, Universities, and the Peace Corps, as they often hire language instructors for their staff.
6) Be clear with the mentor during your initial conversations. Lay out expectations, time commitment, and payment.