First Marshallese class to be offered in Fall 2011

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Aug 10, 2011

For the first time, beginning in the Fall 2011 semester, the UH Manoa Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures will be offering regular classes in Marshallese language and culture. Interest in Marshallese language and culture has been building on the Manoa campus over the past several years, and retired UH Manoa linguist Byron Bender has generously acted as a volunteer mentor and advisor to students who formed informal Marshallese-language study groups. With the introduction of formal classes, UH Mānoa students and others will be able to sign up for just one course or a sequence of courses.

The introduction of Marshallese is made possible, in part, by the Center for Pacific Islands Studies Title VI National Resource Center Grant for 2010-2013. One of the primary goals of this grant is to support the teaching of less-commonly taught languages.

Beginning Marshallese (IP 101) will be offered as an evening class and will be dual listed with the UH Mānoa Outreach College. It will be taught by Rachel Miller, a former World Teach volunteer on Namdrik Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, and a 2010 MA graduate of the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. Miller will be assisted by a native speaker of Marshallese. The course will introduce students to basic language and grammar and will also include cultural content--information on family life, environmental knowledge, history, stories and legends, and more. A second semester of Beginning Marshallese (IP 102) and two semesters of Intermediate Marshallese (IP 201 and IP 202) are planned for future semesters.

In addition to satisfying the Hawaiian or Second Language requirement at UH Mānoa, the courses are designed to help students develop a deeper appreciation for Marshallese people, language, and culture. The courses will be particularly valuable for service providers and others who want to enhance their cross-cultural knowledge and skills, for researchers who are focusing on the Marshalls, for those who are interested in broadening their Pacific knowledge and expertise, and for heritage students who want to strengthen their connections with their home language and culture. The format of the classes will be lively and varied and will include music, food, films, and guest speakers.

The beginning class, IP 101 (4 credits), will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:10 p.m. and will be limited to twenty students.
For more information, contact Rachel Miller at or