Okwu Igbo: Immersion Introduction

We’re so glad you’ve taken the time to start learning Igbo! A few things to remember on your Igbo learning journey:

  1. Learning anything proficiently takes time and dedication, so the more time you put in, the more you’ll learn.
  2. Igbo and English are not the same. In fact, they are very different languages which developed independently from each other. So, trying to translate exactly what you want to say from English to Igbo, and vice versa will not always work.

Once you get the hang of it, learning Igbo will give you a better understanding of Igbo expression, humour and culture.

Our aim with these lessons is to try to create a space where you can simulate Igbo exposure. We will be helping you learn through lyrics, dialogue in movies, and comics.

One of the most challenging things about learning tonal languages is mastering the pronunciation. Be patient with yourself! It’s like learning to play an instrument, if you’re not used to speaking a language, you need to train the muscles in your mouth to express the words accurately! All this takes time and effort but with a lot of practice, you’ll get there!

Tips:

Exposure, repetition, and mimicry

  • Watch Igbo cartoons/movies and listen to Igbo songs as much as you can (even if you don’t understand). The more you expose yourself to the sound, the more familiar you’ll be with the phonics of the language.
  • After listening to a dialogue, try to pause and repeat it out loud, repeat the dialogue by reading the Igbo text aloud, then read the English text and translate it into Igbo speech.
  • Take your phone and record yourself, play the recording back and compare it with the original dialogue to see how similar it sounds.
  • Challenge yourself! If you can, replace common words/phrases you say in your everyday life with the Igbo equivalent, the more you speak, the more confident you’ll become.
  • Join groups which will allow you to practice your Igbo, there are several clubs on clubhouse which host events for beginners.

With all that said, k’anyi bido!


 The Alphabet

To start with, learn the alphabet to practice general Igbo phonetics. This will give you a good foundation in Igbo sounds.

Master Zeji has a great video teaching the Igbo alphabet. It’s also helpful to visualise mouth movements when the letters are spoken.

Try to read the letters aloud:

A      B       CH      D       E        F

G       GB     GH     GW     H     I

Ị       J        K        KP     KW    L

M     N       NW    NY      Ṅ       O

Ọ      P       R       S        SH      T

U      Ụ       V        W       Y        Z

For further practice, check out the Igbo alphabet rhyme below:

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