Wai’anae Intermediate

New Teacher Info Center » Culture Shock & Language

Culture Shock & Language

Regardless of your ethnic heritage, lifestyle, political beliefs or education, it is very safe to say that you will probably go through some form of culture shock if you have been raised elsewhere and transplant yourself to Hawaii. Sources of shock include largely cosmetic things like commonly available cuisine to differences that are much harder to grasp such as political culture, linguistic differences, and socially acceptable behavior. Reading up on local culture, history, and geography will probably help most newcomers understand some of the cultural differences (and similarities) but it's much more important to understand that your own personal approach to this adaptation is the most important factor in your adjustment.

Eye of Hawaii offers a few pointers that might make your personal transition a little easier.

One major request we have received from new teachers has been for more up front information on local linguistic differences. Island English is peppered with words from the indigenous Hawaiian Language as well as Pidgin. Picking up a few words before you get off the plane would not be a bad idea.

Hawaiian Language Lessons - This volunteer constructed web site is a great resource for both a simple intro or more serious study of the Hawaiian language. Everyone should check out the Hawaiian Alphabet and if you want a more complete lesson on pronucation visit their Mispronunciation Guide to learn when you're hearing something incorrect. Scroll down for thematic language lessons.

Pidgin English evolved as the various ethnic groups that settled in Hawaii. English vocabulary was supplemented with words from several other languages. Visit OhanaNet's Hawaii Immigration Timeline for a quick overview of the ethnic history of the islands. Extreme Hawaii provides a list and audio pronunciation files of common Pidgin expressions. Be advised though, that Pidgin usage varies from community to community and even person to person and the syntax is probably more confusing to newcomers than the vocabulary.