University Of Guam Launches Online Chamorro Language Resources

 LearningChamorro.com is a free website to 'improve language fluency'

By John I Borja

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 13, 2017) – The Chamorro language is now more accessible than ever, thanks to a locally made website that teaches the native tongue.

LearningChamorro.com is an online, learner-driven resource geared towards teaching the language, whether you’re from Guam or abroad. Gerhard Schwab, website founder and University of Guam social work professor, gave an online tour during the website’s launch Monday at the university.

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.

The website is free and easy to navigate through, Schwab said. 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.

LearningChamorro.com began as a class assignment four years ago in UOG’s Chamorro Studies program, Schwab said. As a student in the program, Schwab was inspired by the language and decided to pursue it outside the classroom. Schwab said he received help from web developer GuamWebz and the contributions of more than 100 people to put the website together.

UOG Chamorro professors Michael Bevacqua and Rosa Palomo are the main contributors, with the latter as chief editor, according to Schwab. Rhaj Sharma from GuamWebz provided technical support, Schwab added.

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."

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2017 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

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