ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi is the language of Hawaiʻi, and learning it opens up the stories and history of Hawaiʻi as the Hawaiian culture lives on and is transmitted from generation to generation.
In an effort to share ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i with interested learners, from keiki to kūpuna, throughout the islands and around the globe, Kanaeokana and Kamehameha Schools have partnered with the language education platform Duolingo to make Hawaiian language accessible to a larger community of people who are eager to learn it.
Kanaeokana – a network of over 50 Hawaiian language, culture, and ʻāina-based schools and organizations (preschool through university level) collaborating to develop and grow a Hawaiian education system that will nurture the next generations of leaders strengthened by a strong Hawaiian language and cultural foundation – relied on its standing committee focusing on Hawaiian language revitalization (the Kōmike Hoʻokuluma ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi) to identify a team of individuals who possessed high levels of Hawaiian-language fluency, years of Hawaiian-language teaching experience in varied settings, an ability to work as a cohesive team, and the availability to devote about 10-to-20 hours weekly to creating the Duolingo modules.
KS is a Kanaeokana member and is providing financial support both for the technical aspects unique to making ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi available on Duolingo and for the ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i Duolingo Team.
“This is just the beginning of many other living languages being free and accessible for our people around the world,” said Kāʻeo Duarte, vice president of KS’ Community Engagement & Resources Group.
“Bringing ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi to this platform is just continuing the tradition of our ancestors in the nineteenth century who embraced the new technology of print to pass on our traditions and moʻolelo.”
Duolingo has gained popularity for its “gamification” method of teaching language through: reading, listening and speaking; in-lesson gaming challenges and flash card creation; motivation trackers such as streaks built by days in a row spent learning a language; and hearts, similar to those used in a typical video game, which represent the number of remaining attempts before the user must start that challenge over.
More than 300 million people worldwide use the free language education website and mobile application provided by Duolingo. Once support for a particular language is added officially, volunteers who are fluent in that language usually provide content for the Duolingo platform.
“The anchor of our people is our language, and this is where it needs to start,” said Eō Kukahiko, co-chair of Kanaeokana’s Kōmike Hoʻokuluma ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, at a recent Duolingo Hawaiian launch event. Kukahiko spoke in Hawaiian translated into English by KS Kealaiwikuamo‘o Senior Project Manager Makana Garma.
“This is a charge to all of us to move forward without compromising that our language will survive,” she said. “From the novice learners to those who are fluent, this is an avenue for us to get to a point to become fluent language speakers.”
To get started, visit the Duolingo Hawaiian language home page.