Ndathokoza, Merrie. Munandiphunzitsa bwino!

January 12, 2016

Merrie is the daughter of the Head Master at the local primary school near the hospital. She is also a teacher – waiting for her first primary school teaching assignment. Her English is impeccable.

We met every day at lunch for Chichewa lessons for the last few weeks of my stay. Last year, I started a notebook full of phrases, questions, new vocabulary, and some of the basic Chichewa grammar rules. In my lessons, we worked though my questions. She even gave me homework so that she could check my use of the new vocabulary. Each day, I would continue to add to the notebook – if I heard someone say something I didn’t understand, or if I had tried to say something but it wasn’t understood. At this point, I know a lot of vocabulary and grammar rules – but understanding the actual use is challenging.

Merrie had such a good command of both English and Chichewa grammar that she was able to clarify the nuances of the use of the language. Chichewa is a basic language. It doesn’t have fancy vocabulary, but words are used for many things in different ways. Sometimes it takes a long sentence to translate a few words of English, and sometimes it’s just one Chichewa word that translates into a whole English sentence! And of course, the word order is all mixed up.

For example:

Mumandisangalatsa…..You make me happy!

Muyende kuchokera pamene pali mpando kufika pamene pali mpasa…Walk from the chair to the mat.

Some words are just fun to say:


Pondestani phazi…put your foot down

Other phrases are incredibly useful and go a long way when teaching exercises:

Muzipanga izi or Pangani chonchi….you should do it like this

Mukatopa munene…if you get tired, tell me (speak up)

I wish Merrie all the best in her first teaching position. And, I’m grateful for her patience! I learned a lot in the short time we were together.

2016-01-09 13.35.412016-01-09 13.35.54


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