Malagasy: Working With Your Language Mentor

What you put in is directly related to what you get out.

The easiest way to be satisfied by what you study is to take control of your meeting agenda: set goals, make requests, and prepare materials to review during your meetings.

Sample Process 1: Working on Reading, Writing, & Vocab

  1. Select a topic that interests you and reflects something that you want or need to do. For example: greeting someone, getting a haircut, going shopping, getting a taxi, giving directions to a taxi driver, etc.
  2. Email or message your language mentor, stating what you would like to do and when you would like to do it, ideally with at least a week’s advance notice. (Make sure to do this in writing so that there’s a clearly documented decision.) For example, you could write “Fidi, I am learning directions and would like to practice this during our next meeting.”
  3. Before the meeting:
    • Use your dictionary to make a list of relevant vocabulary that you can practice in advance.
    • Write 6-10 sentences of useful phrases, a narrative, or a dialogue, drawing on this vocabulary list.
    • Practice reading these materials.
    • Integrate these into 1 or more PressBook pages so that they can be easily and quickly read (without the challenges of reading handwriting).
      • Follow a 3-column format: Malagasy, English, and Notes/Explanation.
  4. During your meeting:
    • After the normal greetings, read out the entire set of phrases to your mentor.
      • If you are connecting via Zoom, share your web browser with the PressBook page.
      • If you are connecting in-person, let your mentor see your computer screen.
    • After you’ve done this, read out the sentences one-by-one, integrating any corrections to pronunciation, spelling, or usage that your mentor points out.
    • Add notes about any clarifications or explanations to a third column.
    • Read out the whole, revised and corrected passage two times, then save the corrected online version in PressBook.
    • If you have written a dialogue, practice with your mentor reading one part while you read the rest.
  5. Make sure to review and practice this material later!

Sample Process 2: Targeting Weaker Verbal Areas

  1. Ask your language mentor to identify some areas (grammatical, vocabulary, topical, or otherwise) in which you are currently weaker.
  2. Verbalize a scenario in which some of this might be used, e.g.,
    • Future tense -> Describe an imagined trip that you will take.
    • Numbers -> You are going to the street market to buy something.
    • Places and directions -> You are giving a stranger directions to your house, school, or the supermarket.
  3. Assign yourself and your language mentor to specific roles in this scenario.
  4. Improvise and act out the scenario.
  5. Review / brush up as necessary, then repeat twice.
  6. Write down and review notes on this:
    • Is there any new vocabulary you learned?
    • Are there any special or irregular cases to note?
    • What are some examples that will help you remember this?
  7. Repeat at your next session.



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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.