Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Haitian Creole Reference Materials

*Also see previous blog post about learning Haitian Creole.

The Bryant Freeman Haitian English and English Haitian dictionaries

To order the Bryant Freeman Haitian English and English Haitian dictionaries, call Jayhawk, Inc. 
Current prices: Softback volumes $45 each, for a total of $270 for the complete six volume set.
No tax currently charged if shipped outside of Kansas.
Shipping for orders of $250 to $500 is $9.95.
(The Haitian to English volume which came out originally in one hardback volume, is now only available as a three volume softback set, the same as the English to Haitian set.)

These dictionaries are user-friendly, and worth every penny.   

Contact Jayhawk Inc. at: 785-864-4640

Monday, May 6, 2013

          Overview of Independent Study Materials
                              for Haitian Creole

                                                 By Dory Piccard Dickson


1) Pimsleur's Haitian Creole CD's
    Recorded lessons/no textbook (available as Lessons 1-10 or 1-30)   

2) Haitian Creole for English Speakers, by Mandaly Louis-Charles
    Text with on-line recordings
    Author's web sites and blog
3) Creole Made Easy, by Wally Turnbull
    Text and CD's sold either separately or together
    Creole Made Easy Workbook, by Betsy Turnbull

4) Haitian-English Dictionary, by Bryant Freeman
    English-Haitian Dictionary, Parts 1, 2, & 3, by Bryant Freeman

5) English Haitian Creole, Haitian Creole English, Word to Word Dictionary,
    by Fequiere Vilsaint & Jean Evens Berret

6) Haitian Creole Phrasebook, by Cecile Accilien & Jowel Laguerre
    Published by McGraw Hill

7) Ann Pale Kreyòl, by Albert Valdman
    264 page text with CD's sold together or separately

8) Pawòl Lakay, by Frenand Legar
    481 pages; CD's available

9) Guide to Learning Haitian Creole, by Maude Heurtelou & Fequiere Vilsaint
    189 pages; CD available

10) Spoken Haitian Creole for Intermediate Learners, by Marc Prou
      175 pages (No CD)

Mosochwazi Pawòl Ki Ekri An Kreyòl Ayisyen, Anthologie de la Litterature
      Creole Haitienne
, Edited by Jean-Claude Bejeux,
      Published by Editions Antilia
      449 pages (No CD)

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To read my essay, How to Study Haitian Creole Independently, go to:

For beginning students, items numbered one through three would probably be the most appropriate place to start, in the order given.

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Pimsleur's Haitian Creole CD's
    Recorded lessons/no textbook (available as Lessons 1-10 or 1-30)

      These lessons are a pleasure to listen to.  Vocabulary and grammar are presented through a series of dialogs touching on everyday situations and topics.  Success is just about guaranteed with this program, since material, once introduced, is reviewed at regular intervals, in such a way as to help the learner really master new vocabulary and grammar.
      A bonus for me was that I pictured the speakers while listening to the CD's.  The speakers had warm, friendly voices.  I would find myself smiling and occasionally even chuckling as I listened to the lessons.  This is good.  Some older materials, which I have NOT included in my reviews, were recorded by people who sounded angry. 
      While listening to the CD's you don't have to be sitting in front of your computer.  With this program, you develop better pronunciation, since you are concentrating on listening and speaking; you aren't dividing your focus between what you hear and what's printed on a page or computer screen.  Creole is easy to learn to read and write, so don't worry about just starting with listening and speaking.  It's easier to pick up the reading and writing than it is to relearn incorrect pronunciations! 
      If your public library does not have this program, I strongly suggest you make a special request for it to be purchased.

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2) Haitian Creole for English Speakers, by Mandaly Louis-Charles
    Text with on-line recordings
    Author's web sites and blog
      This 215 page text includes a two-way glossary which is very helpful when
composing sentences or for when you come across an unfamiliar word.
      This is an excellent introductory book, with plenty of material to study and to re-visit periodically.  If you're taking a formal class, and another textbook is being used, you can use the lessons in this book for supplemental study.
      As with most language books, introductory chapters focus on pronunciation, and begin the introduction of simple vocabulary.  Subsequent lessons use exercises and dialogs to reinforce vocabulary and grammar. 
      There are two things I especially appreciate about this book:
            1) Vocabulary is introduced at a gentle pace. 
            2) Topics covered seem especially appropriate to life in the United
                 States, or in a Haitian-American community.  Scenes do not all 
                 center on dining out or on farm work, as in some other texts.            
      Following the final, 34th lesson, there are additional helpful sections which include lists of English and Creole expressions, with their translations, and an answer key for all exercises in the book.
      I love the recorded dialogs.  I can hear them, still, in my mind's ear!

Mandaly's web site and blog:
      Mandaly's blogspot is user-friendly and includes archived lessons, audio recordings, and an on-going question-answer stream.  Responses to reader questions consist of carefully thought out explanations, which often expand on the original topic and which include example sentences.  It's always easier to learn new words in context, so having these example sentences is great!  You really have to check out this site, to see what it's all about.

Mandaly's other web site:
      Oh you visual learners, some of the stuff on this site is incredible!  Learn history; learn about Haitians in the diaspora.  Learn more about Haitian culture.  It's all here.  There is always something new being posted.  My favorite thing on this site is the comic book style story about Haitian boat people.  That format is called graphic art, and it really brings a story to life.

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3) Creole Made Easy, by Wally Turnbull
    Text and CD's sold either separately or together
    Creole Made Easy Workbook, by Betsy Turnbull

      Creole Made Easy includes 16 lessons, and a very nice two-way glossary.  For years, it's  been a boon, to people who visit Haiti, including tourists, missionaries, and service providers.
      First, I just listened to the CD's.  After I got through three or four lessons, I took the time to read along in the book while listening. This helped me get accustomed to how written Creole looks. 
      For the first several lessons, all material is repeated three times on the recordings.  Two repetitions would have sufficed for me, but perhaps that's because I had already completed the Pimsleur recorded lessons.  A few of the sentences in the lessons were just too long for me to keep in my head, and that was frustrating.  I found sentences which were 18 and 19 words long - too complex for a beginning student!
      I was very grateful for these sixteen lessons.  Two things I especially appreciated about this book:
            1) The grammar was reinforced in the exercises.  I find it helps to
                 practice the same skills in different formats, in order to have the
                 words and phrases at the tip of my tongue when I need them.  So,
                 even though I had already learned some of the same lessons,
                 studying Creole Made Easy still made a difference in my ability to
                 speak and understand Creole.
             2) All the material in the lessons was also on the CD's.

Creole Made Easy Workbook, by Betty Turnbull (Wally Turnbull's wife)

      I've only gotten up to page 60 of 180 pages; I do plan to complete the
workbook.  The exercises help reinforce the vocabulary and grammar introduced in the Creole Made Easy text.  Practice does make perfect! 
      Additional vocabulary is introduced.  I especially liked the advice on how to shop in a Haitian marketplace.  You have to read it yourself, to see what I mean.  If you get the book, look on pages 149-150.

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4) Haitian-English Dictionary, by Bryant Freeman
    English-Haitian Dictionary, Parts 1, 2, & 3, by Bryant Freeman

      I ordered this dictionary, without getting to see it first.  When the books arrived and I started to look at them, I felt as if the author, Bryant Freeman, had given me a gift.  The dictionaries are SO lovingly compiled, so beautifully organized and presented that I was overwhelmed. 
      If you are frustrated by not being able to find all the words you're searching for in a smaller dictionary, consider the expense of these volumes as an investment in your language learning.  A study session, or a session of pleasure reading or essay writing (in Creole) can change from challenging to satisfying, when you have a good dictionary at hand.
      Some folks want a small dictionary to carry around, or a hand-held electronic device.  I haven't found an electronic dictionary that suited me, and I tend to only use the dictionary at home anyway.  So the bulk of these dictionaries has not been an issue for me.
      The Creole to English dictionary is one, large, hard-bound volume, of 1,020 pages.  It includes a clear, black-line map of Haiti on the inside front cover, and the following:
              a) an informative preface
            b) pronunciation guidelines and some exceptions
            c) list of abbreviations
            d) for each entry, the part of speech, a list of English equivalent words
                and/or phrases, occasional references to other entries
            e) a chart of cardinal and ordinal numbers (up to one billion)
            f) a list of rulers of Haiti, including dates of rule and pictures/photos
            g) Each page has guide words at the top, and all entries (including
                alternate spellings) are in bold print.  This makes the dictionary highly
            h) The only irregular verb in Haitian Creole, the word bay (to give) is
                 accurately explained, and all forms can be found in alphabetical
                 order, with reference given to the main form.
      The English to Creole Dictionary, in three, soft-back volumes, total 1,064 pages.
These volumes are labeled A-E, F - P, and Q - Z, respectively, on the covers.  I put a large yellow post-it note on the cover of each volume, listing the letters in that volume
            Volume 1: A, B,
                             C, D,
            Volume 2: F, G, H, I,
                             J, K, L, M,
                             N, O, P____
            Volume 3: Q, R, S,
                              T, U, V,
                             W, X, Y, Z__

The post-it note headings above make it easier for me to quickly choose which volume to find an English word in.
      These three volumes include illustrations labeled in Creole (and for most illustrations - English labels, too), for sixteen things including: Women's and Men's Clothing, Bicycle Parts, Donkey Gear, etc.
      In addition, there are eleven special glossaries which include: Car Parts, Birds, Fish,
Trees, Musical Instruments, etc.
      This dictionary is one of those things I'd try to carry with me, if the house caught on fire. (Heaven forbid!)

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5) English Haitian Creole, Haitian Creole English, Word to Word Dictionary,
    by Fequiere Vilsaint & Jean Evens Berret

      I did not mention this dictionary in my How to Study Haitian Creole Independently
piece, but it deserves mention here.  It's nice to have a whole dictionary in one volume.   This 387 page dictionary includes a list of abbreviations.  Each entry word is in bold print, followed by the part of speech, and equivalent words or phrases are given.
      The only irregular Creole verb bay (to give) is listed alphabetically, only under it's main form bay.  Under that heading, the other forms (ba, and ban) are listed.  As a beginner student, this was frustrating for me, because I could look up the word in one of its irregular forms, and not be able to locate it.
      I also missed having guide words at the top of each page.  It takes me a little longer to locate which page a word is on, when I have to scan down into the text to find the first and last words listed on each page.
      With this dictionary, I often failed to find words I was searching for. That said, all my English as a Second Language (ESL) students have loved this dictionary.  And my Haitian American friends, too, have been satisfied with this dictionary.
      One thing that's challenging for me, with any foreign language - English dictionary, is the problem of short forms, abbreviations, and verbs which change according to tense, or person.  If I know that did is the past tense of do, I know how to find it in a dictionary.  Likewise, if I know that n' a is a short form of nou va (and va is short for ve al!), I can find it in a dictionary.  But students don't already know these things.  That's the kicker! 
I guess this explains why books devoted to verb charts are such good sellers.

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6) Haitian Creole Phrasebook, by Cecile Accilien & Jowel Laguerre
    Published by McGraw Hill, (with 20 minute audio download of Chapter 2, out of
    twelve chapters.)
      This handy little book has sections titled:
                         Basic Vocabulary: Pronunciation & alphabet
                                                       Greetings & introductions
                                                       Opinions & descriptions
                                                       Numbers, Time, & Weather
          Living & Working in Haiti: Transportation & directions
                                                       Money, Shopping, & Services
                                                       Food & Drink
                                                       Security & Emergencies
                                                       Relief Effort
                                                       Construction & Rebuilding
                                                       Medical Care
               The appendixes include: Grammar overview
                                                       Verb table
                                                       Further Reading
      The thing to watch out for, when using any phrase book, is not to rely on it for the bulk of your study.  You'll miss out on developing the clearest, most correct pronunciation, when you study without using an audio component.  Although there is a twenty minute audio download for this book, it doesn't begin to cover all the chapters.

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7) Ann Pale Kreyòl, by Albert Valdman
    264 page text with CD's sold together or separately
    You can buy a cheaper CD set, with only the dialogs, or a more inclusive, expensive
    set of CD's, with almost all of the exercises included.
      I purchased the more inclusive, expensive CD set to go with this book.  For some reason, a couple of the recorded lessons are lacking in quality and are very difficult to decipher, particularly Lessons 7 and 8.  If you purchase the expensive CD set, which includes most of the exercises, be sure to check those lessons, so you can return them or get a partial refund, something I just didn't bother to do.  The CD recordings, for the most part, follow the text, but they're not always exactly the same.
      I loved listening to the recorded dialogs, though I just want to hear them spoken at a normal pace.  With the CD's (as opposed to cassette tapes) you can't fast forward through the initial, slow reading of each dialog, to get to the naturally-paced readings.
      The glossary goes only from Creole to English, but gives the lesson when each word was introduced.
      This book was not as pleasurable to study from, as Mandaly's book (see entry #2), but on the plus side, there were many sketches to illustrate the text, and lots of exercises, for practice.  Some of the content wasn't especially appealing to me, but I realize I have to accept the good with the bad; another person might be relishing just those things which I don't appreciate. 
      Study units included the following settings and topics:
            An introduction of characters who appear throughout the book
            The classroom (objects found in a classroom, and also action words such as
                   "Go to.  Show me.  Touch the ___. Put down the ___.")
            Family members
That's just a brief sample from the first few chapters.  Grammar instruction is woven into the lessons.  Brief dialogs are included in every lesson. 
      I wasn't especially interested in learning vocabulary for lessons describing different farming tasks, and for lessons describing different complexions and types of hair.  But I realize, if I traveled to Haiti, it would be difficult to understand people, if I only learned the words for the things I'm personally interested in.
      This book is a good, functional tool for learning.  If you study the first three items on this list, Ann Pale would be a good place to go for further learning.

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8) Pawòl Lakay, by Frenand Legar
    481 pages; CD's available

      This book has a Creole to English glossary only.  The CD's were recorded by speakers who have a slightly different accent than the speakers on the Ann Pale Kreyòl CD's.  I think it's good to get used to different accents, so you won't be thrown when you encounter them.
      This book relies less on sketches and little pictures than Ann Pale Kreyòl, employing illustrations sparingly, but appropriately.  It's chock full of practice exercises.  Only dialogs, dictations, and pronunciation exercises are on the CD's.  Most of the practice exercises are not recorded.
      There is so much vocabulary introduced, that I used post-it notes to mark the pages of vocabulary lists, so I could refer to them when stumbling through exercises in the following lessons.  The vocabulary, though used in the exercises of each lesson, was not repeated frequently enough for me to remember it all, in subsequent lessons. I know that practice and review are the heart of language study.
      I would definitely recommend this book.  The only reason I listed Ann Pale Kreyòl ahead of Pawol Lakay, is that, if you spend the extra money, you can get a more inclusive set of recordings to go with Ann Pale Kreyòl.  I wish ALL the books for learning Creole would include a recording of the entire book.

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9) Guide to Learning Haitian Creole, by Maude Heurtelou & Fequiere Vilsaint
    189 pages; CD available

      Lesson One does include BOTH Creole AND English vocabulary lists, and dual-language dialog.  BUT Lesson Two dives into exercises and dialog for which vocabulary has not already been introduced. In Lesson Two, there is a list of 39 Creole vocabulary words - with no English translation.  Lesson Three lists 24 Creole-only vocabulary words - and so on throughout the book.  This book does not have a glossary.
      I listened to the recorded dialogs six times each, for lessons one and two.  Then I ran out of steam.  Trying to study this material independently was too daunting for me. 
      I wonder if this is the way material is introduced in a typical classroom in Haiti.  I wonder if the students there are dependent on their teachers, and would face a struggle if trying to work ahead, independently.  I wonder if teachers in Haiti traditionally gave out long lists of words to be looked up in the dictionary, or for which definitions must be copied from the blackboard.  All that looking up and copying might have served the purpose of keeping one group of students occupied while the teacher worked with another group of students.  I have to wonder.
      If you are working with a teacher, and you are successful with this book, I'd love to hear from you.  I know the authors put their best efforts into presenting the material, with the hope that students would develop useful skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing Creole.  It just wasn't the right book for me, with my desire to study independently.  I'm keeping the book, though, because, if my skills improve, I might one day benefit from reading some of the dialogs and exercises.

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10) Spoken Haitian Creole for Intermediate Learners, by Marc Prou
      175 pages (No CD)
      This book has sat on my shelf for a couple of years, while I worked through the lessons in items 1, 2, 3, 7, & 8 on this list, over and over.  Now I'm pleased and excited at the prospect of digging in.
      What looks appealing about the book, before I get started studying the lessons:
            a) There is a two-way glossary.
            b) There are attractive black-line drawings, including one on page 57, which
                 is identical to the cover art on Guide to Learning Haitian Creole (item #9)
            c) The fifteen lessons include Creole - English vocabulary lists, dialogs in
                Creole, and comprehension questions.  Some lessons also include exercises,
                or notes.
      I WISH I had a personal assistant who would record the entire book.  Then, along with learning new words, phrases and expressions, I might improve my pronunciation, accent and inflection, too!

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11) Mosochwazi Pawòl Ki Ekri An Kreyòl Ayisyen, Anthologie de la Litterature
      Creole Haitienne
, Edited by Jean-Claude Bejeux,
      Published by Editions Antilia
      449 pages (No CD)

      It's hard to say much, fairly, about a book I haven't read, and can only gaze into with longing and a bit of curiosity.  Here's what looks appealing to me, about this book:
            a) It's a BIG book, with nice cover art!
            b) This is a dual language book, with everything printed in two columns:
                 Haitian Creole in the left column, and French in the right column.
                 (How I wish the French column were English!)
            c) There are poems, and I found a story by Maurice Sixto.
            d) There are essays in the final section of the book.
      If I sit down with this book, and my Bryant Freeman dictionaries, I know I'll have some fun.

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      Books and CD's for learning Creole, are probably a lot like other books - what appeals to one person won't necessarily appeal to someone else.  What repels one student may draw another in. 
      I remember reading a review of Wally Turnbull's Creole Made Easy.  The reviewer claimed that the material covered was outdated.  Well, I found that material helpful to me, in 2012, when I used my Creole language skills to communicate with Haitians who came to NJ to work the blueberry harvest.  The lessons I had studied (including the lessons in Wally Turnbull's Creole Made Easy) gave me the skills I needed for simple conversations in Creole.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 2013 Haitian Migrant Worker Outreach

Ernest Claude, artist extraordinaire, is getting set to draw illustrations for the Children's Pages of the (FREE) Haitian Migrant Worker Journal, once again.

In this summer's issue of the Haitian Migrant Worker Journal, the Children's Pages will consist of a story, THE MIGRANT CAMP TWINS AND THE LITTLE FREE LIBRARY.

The above story is a sequel to last summer's story, THE MIGRANT CAMP TWINS AND THE VISITOR.
The Journal, and the story in the Children's Pages, are available in English, Haitian Creole and Spanish, for distribution at migrant camps in Atlantic County and Burlington County, NJ.

To learn more about Haitian Migrant Worker Outreach (HMWO), go to www.HaitianMigrantWorkerOutreach.Org.

To learn more about Little Free Libraries, go to www.LittleFreeLibrary.Org.

The (FREE) Haitian Migrant Worker Journal accepts submissions of articles, story ideas, letters to the editor, book reviews, comics, recipes, poems, etc. in English, Haitian Creole, and Spanish.  Use contact information at the bottom of this post to submit materials.  Inclusion of your submissions in our publications is dependent on acceptance by the editors, and on space limitations. *All submitted materials, if published, become the sole property of HMWO and may be published in our journals, on our web site, or elsewhere.  At this time we have no budget for the journals; submitted material is accepted as a free donation to our cause, to welcome migrant workers to New Jersey.

If you or your group or organization would like to make gift packs for migrant workers, (wash clothes, clothes pins - AND we have plenty of little soaps you may add), please contact me by phone or email.

If you'd like to help teach an English as a Second Language (ESL) class, organize a craft activity, or a musical event with migrant workers, please contact me, Dory Dickson.  See contact information below. 

Also, if you are having a group yard sale, and you're looking for someone to pick up left-overs at the end of the sale - (if you're within 15 miles of Medford, NJ) I'd be happy to come pick stuff up.  HMWO accepts summer clothing for men, women and children, in good condition - including hats of all kinds, and dress clothes for worship services. We especially appreciate donated folding chairs, including lawn chairs.

*CONTACT me, Dory Dickson at: 609-969-2480 OR email: Dory@HaitianMigrantWorkerOutreach.Org

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Preparing for our fourth summer serving migrant workers in NJ

Haitian Migrant Worker Outreach (HMWO) has been collecting books all winter, including French-English and Spanish-English dictionaries.  Haitian-Creole dictionaries are not available second-hand, so must be purchased new, which is more expensive.  We are well along in planning the summer 2013 edition of the FREE Haitian Migrant Worker Journal, which will be published in both English and Haitian Creole.  A Spanish language edition may also be available.  *If you know anyone who is moving or down-sizing, please let them know that HMWO continues to accept donated used clothing in good condition, sheets and towels, and folding chairs, including lawn chairs.  The folding chairs are really appreciated out at the migrant camps. At the end of a long day working in the sun, it's nice to pull a chair into the shade and sit down!  We're also looking for art supplies, including paper, paints, brushes, pastels, and craft items.  If your group or club would like to get involved, we have project ideas to share with you!  Please contact me at 609-969-2480, or email me at Dory@HaitianMigrantWorkerOutreach.Org