- Soussou is a difficult language to learn. This should be clear from the beginning. It is difficult for a number of reasons. As a relatively localized language, the vast majority of native speakers are located in Guinea, West Africa. This makes learning the language somewhat difficult, because this regional concentration has not led to extensive education of this language.
- Soussou is a Mande language, and as such, it is distinct from other types of languages more commonly taught in US schools. The most similar languages that are in this family that tend to be taught more often would be Bambara or Mandinka/Mandingo, which are spoken in Mali and the Gambia, respectively. As such, the precedent for similar languages is probably somewhat less than it would be with certain other languages that fall into more widely taught language families.
- Soussou is a beautiful language, and Soussou people are very kind and tend to enjoy the fact that you’re learning the language. Take this with a grain of salt though and remember that you’re a visitor, even when learning the language.
- Language learning takes work, especially for a language with as few resources available to new learners as Soussou. Expect that you will have to meet and talk with native speakers, usually in French. Also expect that you will need to take your own notes and essentially put together your own textbook. This is a good exercise in language learning though.
- Try to meet as often as you can with your language learning community (teachers, mentors, friends, etc.). This will give you a good amount of daily practice that will greatly aid you in language learning. Consistent structure and practice are two key components to language learning.
- Try to understand how you learn best. Think about what methods work best for you (notes, flashcards, dialogues, textbooks, etc.) and try to utilize them to the best of your abilities.
- Make use of audio materials. Soussou is a tonal language, so using correct pronunciation is quite important. Although it seems less tonal than some other languages, there are many times that changes in tone will lead to mistakes between entirely different words.
- Try to find non-academic resources to listen to. Look on YouTube and importantly, ask native speakers. Think about things such as music or movies. These will be easy and hopefully fun/entertaining additions to the work you’re already doing in your class/mentorship sessions.