Course syllabus

University of Auckland

Centre for Pacific Studies


TONGAN 101/101G – Tongan Language I

Semester I, 2019


Lecturer:       Dr Melenaite Taumoefolau, Rm 1O2H, Pacific Studies

Telephone 373 7599 extn 85167. 


Office Hours – Friday 12, Room 108, Pacific Studies

 Course Outline


TONGAN 101 will enable you to attain an initial degree of spoken and written competence in the language, study its structure, and appreciate some forms of Tongan literature, such as songs and speeches.  TONGAN 101 will also study important Tongan customs and traditions.    


Courses in Tongan would be of interest if you are Tongan and have lost or are in the process of losing your native tongue, or if you wish to master communication skills in Tongan for purposes of better interaction with the Tongan community or for further study and research. Tongan may also interest you if you are pursuing studies in language-related fields such as linguistics.


Methodology and Syllabus

There are two main ways or approaches to learning Tongan:

  1. The short way – attending a short course like TON 101 in which you are largely told about the structure of Tongan. This way often results in your knowing a lot about the language but does not often result in your being able to use the language fluently.
  2. The long way, which means being immersed in Tongan for at least some years, during which time you simply become exposed to Tongan being spoken and written and you “pick it up”. The success of this way of learning depends on your understanding the spoken and written messages that are given in Tongan without the messages being translated into your first language, e.g. English.  As you understand more and more messages, your understanding of the language grows progressively, enabling you to interact in the language.  In this approach, it is counterproductive to translate into your first language English.  Using English too much while learning Tongan will only increase your dependence on English and you will not learn much Tongan.  This approach often results in your knowing how to use the language but not knowing a great deal about the formal structure of the language.


In TONGAN 101 (& TON 101G), we will try to make use of BOTH approaches.  I will be telling you a lot of things about the structure of Tongan and you should learn those things as much as you can.  I will also be delivering a lot of messages in Tongan for you to understand and learn.  To do this, I will be teaching units of conversations and notes in Tongan culture and history.  We will learn these units in Tongan.  By learning the “content” (messages) of the units, we will thereby learn Tongan vocabulary and sentence patterns expressing that content. 

Because there is only a short time available in the course (about four hours a week), we will not be able to avoid the use of English altogether, but we will try to use as much Tongan as possible.  I also expect you to use about 5-6 hours a week learning Tongan at home or anywhere else other than in the Tongan classes.   

Thus, we will have a functional syllabus (units on Tongan culture and history) and a structural syllabus (formal features of the language).


Functional Syllabus

Uike ‘Uluaki – lea fakafe‘iloaki (Greetings, introductions)

Uike Ua – Fāmili, kau mēmipa e fāmilí (members of the family)

Uike Tolu – Fokotu‘utu‘u e sosaieti Tongá (organisation of Tongan society)

Uike Fā – Fokotu‘utu‘u e lea faka-Tongá (organisation of Tongan language)

Uike Nima, Uike Ono, Uike Fitu, Uike Valu – Ngaahi ‘ulungaanga faka-Tonga (Tongan customs) – hiva (singing), kava, ta‘ovala (waist mat), koloa (mats and bark-cloth)

Uike Hiva mo e Uike Hongofulu -  ‘Ofa (love), faka‘apa‘apa (respect), lotu (worship), ako (education)

Uike Tahataha mo e Uike Tahaua – Fakamanatu ki he siví (revision for exams)


Structural syllabus

Ako fanongo (listening practice)

Ako pu‘aki lea (pronunciation practice)

Ako lea (speaking practice)

Ako laukonga / ako lautohi (reading practice)

Ako sipela (spelling practice)

Ako tohi (writing practice)


Course Credit
         Coursework:  50%

        Examination: 50%


Coursework:  There are two assignments worth 15% each, and tutorial activities worth 20%.

In the two assignments (30%) and the exams (50%), we ask for the facts (content) that you have learned, and students answer using the Tongan words and sentences that they have learned to express that content.  Marks will be given for both knowledge of content and knowledge of the language.

There are Tongan dictionaries in the library.  Use those to look up words you may not know.  In marking your work, I will look for words and sentences that we studied in class, but credit will also be given for words you learned from your own dictionary use and research.


Tutorial Activities  

There is no tutorial during the first week.  But in every tutorial from the second week onwards we will have activities and tests on Tongan vocabulary and sentences.  Tutorial activities and tests will total to 20% of the course work.


Assignment I 

(We will look at model essays that you can use to help you construct sentences to write your essay.) 


Write about 1,000 words giving a factual account in Tongan of your family or a family that you know well.  You may want to talk about each family member in turn.  Examples of things you may want to say about them are their age, physical appearance, what they do, what they like, and so on.  Try to use as many words and sentences learnt in class as possible.  Family trees and pictures will make your essay more interesting. 


Type your essay, double spaced.  You should acknowledge any Tongan informants or any books that you used in a bibliography section.


Assignment II 

(We will look at model answers to help you construct sentences to write your essay.) 

Write about 1,000 words describing in Tongan an important Tongan custom or an important custom of your own home community. 


Type your essay, double-spaced.  You should acknowledge any Tongan informants or any books that you used in a bibliography section.


Marking of Assignments

In marking your assignments I will be sympathetic towards students who did their own work, students who used words and sentences learnt during the course, and students who wrote several drafts before writing the final version that is handed in.  I will not be sympathetic to students who get others to do most of their writing, students who hand in a draft version that has not been adequately proofread, and students who do a last-minute job.


Course Readings


These will be provided in lectures.  You may also want to use the following books:

Tongan Dictionary by C. M. Churchward

Tongan Grammar by C. M. Churchward

 Intensive Course in Tongan by Eric B. Shumway   

 An Introduction to the Tongan Language by Edgar Tu‘inukuafe.


Course summary:

Date Details