A New Online Chamorro Language Resource

Earlier this year the University of Guam (UOG) launched a Website that teaches the native tongue making the Chamorro language more accessible than ever before. LearningChamorro.com is an online, learner-driven resource geared towards teaching the language, whether you’re from Guam or abroad.

The website’s mission is to further advance the Chamorro language and help people improve language fluency. “The whole emphasis behind learning Chamorro is a very pressure-packed movement,” UOG President Robert Underwood said at the website’s launch. Underwood recalled how, in his younger days, others spoke Chamorro more fluently than him and he sometimes found it difficult to keep up with them. The language will be easier to learn now with the website’s resources, he said.

Gerhard Schwab, website founder and University of Guam social work professor, said the website is free and easy to navigate through. To begin, a user must create an account that requires a name, email address and password. The user then has access to the various teaching materials, which are a combination of audio, visual and interactive text. The user gains skill levels as they engage in more of the website’s features, Schwab said.

Schwab explained that the website has five main features:

  • a dictionary with more than 12,000 Chamorro words and their English meaning;
  • Chamorro lessons that teach various words and phrases in the language, depending on skill level;
  • a grammar section that explains Chamorro sentence structure and various pronouns;
  • basic conversations in Chamorro that are useful at home, work, school and more;
  • and a media section that gives the user access to audio clips, video and real-life documents to use as learning tools.

A significant feature of the website is the integration of the dictionary in the Chamorro lessons and dialogue. As Schwab explained, users just need to hover over a Chamorro word to find out what it means in English. Another option allows the reader to see a breakdown of a Chamorro sentence, detailing its structure and meaning. “The website is still growing and more content will be added to enhance the Chamorro learning experience,” Schwab said.

Schwab said there currently are more than 2,900 users on the website. Fifty percent of them are from Guam, 40 percent are from the U.S. mainland and the rest are international users living in countries such as Japan, Afghanistan, Australia and France. “Learning Chamorro means different things to different people and poses particular challenges,” the website states. “It is much more than learning words, you participate in and shape cultural and historical processes.”

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About islandculturearchivalsupport

Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of records pertaining to the cultural identity of island peoples in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia whose national and public archives, libraries, cultural centers, and business organizations are underprivileged, underfunded, and understaffed. The specific purpose for which this nonprofit corporation was formed is to support the needs of these South Pacific cultural heritage institutions by helping to preserve and make accessible records created for business, accountability or cultural purposes. The organization will endeavor to add value by providing resources or volunteers to advise, train, and work among island residents to support their efforts in building their future and preserving their collective memory through the use of modern archival techniques.
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