Practice Listening and Comprehension of Lingala

Now that I have had a short lesson and practice on reading in Lingala. Let’s shift gears a bit to practice and discuss listening and comprehension in Lingala.

Some Useful Listening Resources

Let me revise at least 5 of the resources I have relied on to varying degrees while learning Lingala:

  1. Radio Okapi : Journal Lingala – Radio Okapi is a national radio station ran by MONUSCO in the DRC. It provides daily news segments in all four national languages including Lingala (classic).
  2. Top Congo Fm Twitter Page  – Two shows, Parlons-en and Le Débat are particulary of interest from the various shows produced by Top Congo Fm. These are made accessible to everyone on their Twitter page. This is a good resource if you would like to hear everyday conversations by Kinois on various topics.
  3. Spotify Playlist of Songs in Lingala –  This is a Spotify playlist I am creating over the course of the summer (and beyond). You will find a mix of classic Congolese songs as well as music from younger generations of Congolese. If you love la vraie ndule, please come and indulge! 
  4. Mama Lisa’s World – To practice speaking and listening some Lingala, you may choose to listen and sing along to the nursery rhyme like « Mama eh » in Lingala. Singing is a great way to practice speaking a language especially at the beginner stage and also to relax (for me at least).
  5. Lastly, beyond having spontaneous conversations, I recently incorporated listening to my mentor read text to me face-to-face. This is a great exercise too because I was able to receive feedback right away.

Some Strategies for Incorporating Listening Practice

When listening to a segment from Radio Okapi or Top Congo, I rely on the following strategies that I have found useful over the summer:

  1. Goal of listening – First, I usually ask myself what is the goal of this listening session. If I know what the aim is or what II need to get out of the session then it’s helps me not lose focus of what the overarching goal is that day for the listening session.
  2. Break Up Segment (as needed) – depending on the length of the segment that day, I break it up in shorter segments to work through small chunks. Usually, I create 5 mins segments but this also varies depending on the content and where it starts and ends.
  3. Transcribe (classic Lingala) – If I am listening to classic Lingala, then the first thing I usually do is to transcribe the segment. I started dong this when I realized how different classic Lingala is from the dialect spoken here in Kinshasa.
  4. Repetition – I usually rely on repetition to help me grasp what is being said. I do this in the following manner:
    1. Passive listening – first, I listen. passively to the segment I picked and try and jot down the main topics I am able to hear. Here I do not pay much attention to details I just need to know which topics will be addressed in the segment.
    2. Active Listening #1 – the second time, when I listen I try to tease out as many details as possible to go along with each topic  identified earlier.
    3. Active Listening #2 – lastly, based on what was the goal of the listening segment that day, I listen to the audio again with the intention of either:
      1. Identifying new vocabulary (5-10 words) to add to vocabulary bank, guess meaning from context, define them using a dictionary if needed,  and reuse them in a different context.
      2. Writing at least 5 sentences as best as I can based on what I heard – this mostly helps me with testing my ability to write and pick up the different tonalities in Lingala.
      3. Summarize in my own words what I heard in a short paragraph – this helps me test my ability to summarize win my own words what I understand from the segment. It is a useful way to test both my comprehension and writing ability.
      4. Answer questions from my mentor to test comprehension – this not only tests my comprehension but it also tests my ability to speak and engage in a conversation which helps me practice my pronunciation as well.
  5. Repeat above steps until all targeted segments are completed.
  6. Mentor’s Feedback – Lastly, I go over the work I did with my mentor to receive feedback and how I can improve in the next listening  activity. Most of the time, I also have question for my mentor when I do not understand something or I am confused. See here for a sample listening activity.



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