John Hartmann & Kip
SEAsite Lao is a web site containing
interactive multimedia materials designed to assist in learning the Lao
Language and aspect of the Lao culture. Spoken Lao, a series of thirty
lessons, is the core of this site. Each lesson has exercises that include
interactive quizzes with immediate feedback, vocabulary flash cards, and
Spoken Lao. The purpose of this website is to make materials dealing with the Lao language and culture freely available to a world-wide audience over the Web. The core of this project is based on a previously unpublished book for beginning students, Spoken Lao, by Dr. Arthur Chrisfield. If you are a novice language learner and interested in learning the spoken Lao language, this is where you should begin. For learning to read Lao at the beginning level, start with the alphabet exercise and explanation of the writing system. Working from Laos and communicating via the internet with us at Northern Illinois University, he updated the lessons and assisted us in adapting them to the World Wide Web. Two native speakers of the Vientiane dialect were hired to record the speeches for the dialogs of the first 30 lessons Spoken Lao using a digital recorder on site in the capital city in the summer of 2002. As part of our efforts to make the lessons more interactive and lively, we have added several unique and useful features. Because Lao is a tonal language, it is important for the learner to understand the underlying patterns of tones and their relationship to the writing system. This has been achieved through the development of a color coded Tone Chart of Vientiane tones that can (should) be accessed by a click of the mouse from each lesson. Each lesson provides speeches for all of the conversations; the speeches for all 30 lessons have been made available for downloading. (Also to be downloaded are three sets of fonts: Lao New Light, Phonemic, and IPA. Without them, you will not be able to make sense of what appears in the language lessons.) Flashcards and Matching Exercises and two types of Quiz with immediate feedback too have been created for all of the Spoken Lao lessons. It is perhaps a bit deceptive to use the words "spoken Lao" to describe these lessons. Speaking proficiency will only be achieved by actually engaging in speaking with a teacher or another speaker of the language. Nevertheless, the learner can advance his or her skills in listening proficiency and even reading and writing, depending on the level of dedication and repeated practice - listening and reading over and over. "Repetition is the mother of knowledge."
Reading Lao. If reading Lao is your goal, materials at different levels of difficulty are displayed on the main menu: Basic Lessons include reading the letters of the alphabet, words, and sentences; Intermediate Lessons employ folktales to capture the humor and cultural values of the Lao. Even more lively and authentic is a series of photos of signs taken in Laos.
This website has several kinds of resources that will lead the learner to an understanding and appreciation of Lao culture, from food, folklore, and folk tail, such as the classical literature of Phra Lak Phra Lam, to art, architecture, and music. Since most cultural experiences are experiential and sensory in nature, we have included numerous photos and drawings. There is an obvious emphasis on Luang Prabang (pronounced and often spelled "Pabang," in Lao) because of the beauty of its temples and natural scenery and because it has been declared a "World Heritage Site" by The United Nations. General background on the history and government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) is also provided along with other practical sources of information for travelers. Because the majority of the ethnic Lao are Buddhists, we have included a collection of photos, Lao Ceremonies, taken by the talented Hans Georg Berger that deal with Buddhist rituals and other interesting aspects of ethnic Lao culture in the Luang Prabang area. The explanatory text is, however, in the original Lao language, as it is the primary goal of this web site to provide language learning materials. In the future, we may find resources to translate the Lao into English for the general non-Lao public. For the interested traveler, we have included maps and photos of travel tours. For business people, there is information on working with a Lao business partner. Finally, there is a long list of outside links to a world of information on Laos.
Below is another way of introducing the contents of the Lao website to you. Simply scroll down to a topic that interests you and click on one of the links highlighted in blue.
Listening Comprehension Exercises. Good for listening comprehension:
1) speeches – dialog utterances
and individual vocabulary - can be repeated over and over:
2) interactive comprehension
quizzes provide immediate feedback:
Tones – Chart and Interactive
Interactive Vocabulary Games:
History, Art, Culture:
History of Luang Prabang –
Illustrated with historic photos
Museums, Artifacts, Palm Leaf
Food – Recipes of the Royal
Cook; Essay Lao Eating Habits and Attitudes Towards Food; Interactive
identification of ingredients:
*Prepared by John Hartmann,
Kristina Lindell - Kammu Expert