Kreyol Resources

When Haitians ask me how I learned to speak their language, I tell them “From the Internet, without paying anything” and point out they can learn English the same way, a nice way to introduce Project Rive and its goal.

Was it hard? Well, grammar and vocab are easy. Many of the words come from French, and you won’t have to memorize any verb tables because all the conjugation you’ll ever do is handled by the same 3 particles. The hardest part was mastering the rhythm of speech, since many words are contracted, and tracking down the right resources to study with. Here’s all the things you might find helpful all in one place, so you don’t have to search as long as I did.

Free and Downloadable

This website has a lot of good info about different resources. That page specifically is talking about Byki, which was one of the first things I used. It’s tedious, but you do have the option of choosing which lists to learn (so you can focus on the ones relevant to you and the ones you need practice on). It’s also one of the best ways to learn pronunciation.

Another way to learn pronunciation is to get the audio tapes of Chita Pa Bay and Ti Koze Kreyol. The audio files along with the textbooks can be found on the University of Kansas website. I wouldn’t recommend these for a complete beginner, though: they’re more for building on vocabulary and grammar: practicing instead of learning, basically.

For learning I would recommend just reading about the basics of Kreyol grammar on Wikipedia or this website. 

I also came across this little gem, a blog run by a native Haitian speaker with some great explanations of specific grammar points and audio to practice with. She’ll also answer any question you have within days…priceless.

Here’s a newspaper published in Kreyol with news about Haiti. They sometimes do audio too that you can practice with.

If you’re willing to spend money…

I didn’t use any of these resources personally when I was learning, but here’s what I know about each and their potential usefulness to a beginner:

This phrasebook was developed after the earthquake and gives you the basics you’ll need to communicate. A good study tool for plugging up gaps in your knowledge and preparing for specific situations.

Creole Made Easy by Wally R. Turnbull offers the best explanations and examples I’ve seen of grammar. If you’re looking for a methodical approach to getting a grasp of the rules, this is the book for you.

There’s also a Pimsleur course available. The Pimsleur method of listen and repeat bores me, so I’ve never actually sat through one of their lessons. If hearing is how you learn best, this might be worth trying, but I can’t guarantee the audio pronunciations will be accurate since I’ve never listened to it myself.

There’s also Haiti Hub, a website where you pay to access learning modules that introduce vocabulary and grammar through videos and exercises. If you benefit from an extremely-structured approach, this might be worth checking out. They’re also making efforts to expand their approach and include the community more – I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.

Avoid

Anything by Joseph J. Charles. Not worth the time or money – disorganized and too basic to really help you understand anything.

9 thoughts on “Kreyol Resources

    • If you’re looking for physical books, I know there’s Kreyól books on eBay. I can’t recommend any personally – the only ones I’ve encountered were very poorly done (not by Haitian authors).

      http://languages.ku.edu/haitian : There are two interesting resources on this site that are entirely in Kreyól – Chita Pa Bay and Ti Koze Kreyol. Chita Pa Bay is a collection of proverbs, jokes, and an abridged version of Jacques Romain’s Gouverneurs de la Rosée. Ti Koze Kreyol is a short narrative about a couple who fall in love in Kreyól class and then go on a trip for Haiti – it’s more geared towards people learning the language, but it could be useful. I have used some of the material in Chita Pa Bay with adult Haitians before and they seemed to like it.

      Basically, Haiti has a lot of folk stories (google Bouki and Ti Malice) and if you can find the original Kreyól versions of those a lot of them could be very useful.

      I’m still casting my net around for different sources – I’ll let you know when a more complete post is eventually made about the results of my quest.

  1. Thanks for your thoughts! Ideally I’d love e-books! I’ve bought physical books in French and Kreyol before from outfits in California and from Montreal. There was a man in New York area who had a long list but never replied to my order. I’d prefer to see what I am buying first of course, so maybe spending time in the markets in Haiti is what I should be doing for physical books.
    The real difficulty is having great books and then not being able to catalog them, store them, distribute them to people, have them kept in good condition, and returned! I also find that even if that were possible, the teachers do not often have good ideas on using these materials in the classroom. Not sure where all this will lead me…

    • Posted a question on Sweet Coconuts and they replied that these are the best places to go looking:
      Librerimapou.com (library in Miami)
      Educavision.com
      Koleksyon Sanmba (Sanmba Collection): a series of books for kids…apparently they’re based in Quebec, Canada? Libreri Mapou should also have these books.

      Specific titles:
      Tatézoflanbo
      Bobo Chen Odasye A (Mancy’s Haitian Folktale Collection)
      ak Chansons d’enfants En Français et Créole.

      Write Libreri Mapou directly for more titles.

    • Thanks for the link! Oh, and by the way, the Oxford English Picture Dictionary has a Kreyól translation and it was by far the most popular book in the little library I was working in last summer.

      • That’s great to know. Thanks! I’ll try to find it. Is it available in P au P? Could a school find it?
        Last year a friend in Croix des Bouquets carried around my English picture dictionary for weeks and practiced learning new words while on tap-tap rides.
        At another school, someone walked off with the Kreyol/English dictionary I’d been given for the new ‘library’. Indeed, these are popular items!

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