Soussou Language

What People Do/Different Kinds of Jobs

What People Do/Different Kinds of Jobs


Objective: To introduce people to different ways about talking about jobs that people do. This is both an exercise in vocabulary and language, as well as an exercise in culture. This will be a way of expressing some basic things about different types of common jobs, including that of the student or teacher.


Key Vocabulary:

Wali = work (pl. walé)

Walikè = worker (someone who works)

Maçongni = maçon

Maçongni ya = masonry

Kamoudèri = carpenter

Hè sa = farmer

Habouré = blacksmith

Téla = tailor

Yèhè souhoui = fisherman

Yèhè = fish

Baa = the ocean

Karamöhö – Instructor

Kharan di = Student

Kharandéraba = Teacher


Sample Sentences and Phrases:

Wali ma tinkan fé – To learn a trade/type of work

I bara i ha wali raba? – Have you finished with your work?

Maçongni bankhi nan ti ma – The mason built/constructed the house

Kamoudèri nadè nan yalan ma – The carpenter makes the door

I na mines yalan fé? – What are you making/repairing?

Kamoudèri sadé anoun döhö sé nan yalan ma – The carpenter makes both the bed and the seat.

Téla dougui nan dèguèma – The tailor sews the clothes

N’kharandé nanan bama (alt. N’na kharandé nan nabafé) = I teach

Kharandéraba nan na = I am a teacher

Kharan di nan na = I am a student



  • Along with your language mentor, begin to look at different types of jobs. Have your language mentor explain to you the context of different types of work in Guinea. For example, across Guinea, over 80% of the country is still employed in sectors of the “peasant economy,” in the sense that they are people who live in rural areas and often work in jobs mentioned above (especially various forms of manual labor).
  • Begin to think about how to talk about some of these different types of jobs. What are the kinds of things that people build, construct, or otherwise do during their working day? Try to come up with short sentences that can help to expand your vocabulary.
  • Take time to switch up sentences. For example, if you’re saying the carpenter made the door (fourth sample sentence), what else could the carpenter make? Or what could the mason or another profession make? Think about how these verbs might remain the same or change as well–and ask your language mentor to make sure.
  • Take some time to talk about yourself, either as a language learner or within your own context. For example, if you give classes, work on how to talk about yourself as a teacher of some sort. Think about how to describe the kinds of classes you teach, and where you give them.
  • For a final task, try to come up with a role-play exchange. You can try to be yourself, and you can come up with an introduction (Name, where you’re from, etc. – all themes we have practiced before). From there, say a couple of sentences about what you do. Then the other person (perhaps your language mentor) can respond by saying what they do. Perhaps you can also use your knowledge of family to ask what their parents, spouse, or extended family do. As such, this will help to expand your early vocabulary.


Feedback and Reflection:

  • As you meet with your language mentor, it will be essential to continue to get feedback, especially as you construct your sample sentences. As a student, coming up with your own sentences is an essential step in the learning process. The sentences are going to be one of the keys to being able to move forward with learning how the language works – especially when focusing on structure. Think about where the various works fall in the sentences. Focus on the order.
  • As your construct the sample role-play scenario, make sure to bring it to your language mentor, but also take time to talk it through with others you might know. This will help you to deepen the scenario that you are building. People can add depth to the characters, and will also help you to work on basic sentences. You can also, once finished, run this scenario through using either part (the “you the teacher” or the “you the [other profession].” As you do this, you can practice with your mentor or others. They can provide you feedback.
  • There are a number of words in the key vocabulary that are tricky to pronounce. Make sure that you take time with your language mentor to go over the pronunciation thoroughly. For example, words like “yèhè” (fish) are somewhat hard for predominantly English-speakers to pronounce. However, slight variations on this will actually give you completely different words.
  • Note the specificity of certain verbs here as well, and make sure to talk with your language mentor about this. There is a difference, for example, between “Ti fé” and “Yalan fé” – which both roughly mean to make. However, “Ti fé” means more like to construct sometime (for example, a house). “Yalan fé” means to fabricate something or repair something. Note that these are also somewhat more trade specific as well. Usually a mason will not be referred to as “fabricating” something (and thus, will not take the verb “yalan fé”).


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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.