how to learn igbo language fast pdf

Last Updated on December 28, 2022

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how to learn igbo language fast pdf

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The best and easiest way to learn Igbo Language online

Igbo language is one of the three major languages spoken in Nigeria. It is the language of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria, spoken in seven Nigerian states – Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Rivers, and Delta, totalling over 40 million speakers.
Igbo language has over 30 dialects spoken in different communities across Igboland, however Standard Igbo is the form of Igbo language widely recognised and used formally in spoken and written Igbo.

Learning Igbo Language as a beginner
What is the best way to learn Ìgbò language as a beginner? Many learn Igbo language by listening to and observing native speakers. This works, however, many people who learn Igbo language this way are unable to read or write Igbo language, and are usually at a loss when faced with Igbo language in the written form.
Some people learn Igbo language in class: in school, private Igbo lessons, or group lessons organised by Igbo organisations. Does learning Igbo in class work? Yes, but results are dependent on factors like the teacher, class size, curriculum, etc. Also, people who learn this way may be exposed only to the ‘formal’ aspects of the language, and may experience difficulties understanding the language in the form it is used every day.
What then is the best way to learn Igbo language? Learning Igbo language online has proven to be one of the fastest and most efficient ways of mastering the Igbo language. Learning Igbo online is both flexible and cost-effective, without any drop in success. According to expert Igbo language teacher and translator Onyinye Ibelegbu known as NwaadaIgbo, the easiest way for a beginner to master the Igbo language is by taking “structured online classes with experienced native speakers”. This way, no aspect of learning suffers. One acquires proficiency in the equally important aspects of reading, writing and speaking Igbo. 
Learning Igbo is fun
Onyinye Ibelegbu also posts daily tips on Igbo language learning through her page on Instagram @nwaadaigbo. Driven by her desire to make Igbo language learning available to all, especially to Igbos in the diaspora, she developed the Complete Ìgbò Course on Udemy – a course rated by Udemy as a best seller. The persistent requests for a resource that teaches Igbo language in a detailed and concise manner led to the birth of the Complete Guide to Igbo Language – a textbook available on Amazon. Her one-on-one sessions for individuals and groups spanning over 3 years of Igbo language coaching and 186 clients from over 4 continents have been described as fun, engaging and detailed.
Yvonne in New York, USA says this about the Complete Ìgbò Course on Udemy: “I met Onyinye through a friend of mine via Instagram. I have been wanting to learn Igbo for as long as I can remember but had not encountered anyone who has experience teaching Igbo that was easily available. Onyinye has been a great instructor to work with. Her process for learning the basics is very effective and we were able to set up a schedule within a day. She is very patient and easy to talk to. She also is very creative and makes learning enjoyable. I have finished my introductory course within a few months and I am excited to continue my learning with Onyinye and other Igbo speakers.”
igbo language textbook for learning and mastering igboA practical Igbo Language textbook for every beginner
Peju in Lagos Nigeria says: “I am a Yoruba woman married to an Igbo man and have been trying to learn Igbo FOREVER. Last year, it became really important that I do it. I tried to use resources online but none worked for me. Until my sister-in-law told me about NwaadaIgbo on Instagram. That was it o!!! Our lessons are pretty cool and her notes are helpful. She also pointed me to free online resources that were actually helpful. I am still learning to be a fluent speaker but I am well on my way and loving it too. Chukwu gọzie gi enyi m.”
Uche, the President of Igbo Youth Ireland says: “We had Onyinye take a 6-week session for our members. The classes were very interactive and helpful. Everyone bonded with her and she made Igbo so easy”.

There are a good number of resources online offering  Igbo language lessons. YouTube videos, websites and a few apps all provide information on vocabulary and aspects of the Igbo culture such as greetings, food and festivals. If you are looking to learn Igbo language effectively, you should consider resources that help with the essentials: Igbo Pronunciation, Vocabulary and Sentence Formation. Your tutor should also be able to provide a structured curriculum that includes these essentials. 
A major benefit of learning Igbo language online is that it affords the learner more flexibility. Your tutor can structure your lesson based on your availability and convenience, that way you can have your classes without major changes to your schedule. Online Igbo courses are time and cost-effective, offering more benefits at the same or less cost than physical classes. What’s more, having a tutor comes with a great advantage: accountability. You get the necessary push, encouragement and focused attention to achieve your learning goals. 
The kolanut ‘Ọjị’ is very significant to the Igbo culture
Online Igbo Language Learning
The best aspect of being taught Igbo language by an expert is that they can assess your level of proficiency and tailor your lessons accordingly. It might not make sense to jump into the more complex aspects of the Igbo language (e.g. use of proverbs and idioms – ilu na akpaalaokwu) without first learning the basics – the Igbo alphabets, Igbo parts of speech, sentence formation and everyday Igbo vocabulary. It is recommended that you approach your Igbo language learning in a structured manner. 
How long does it take a beginner to learn the Igbo language?

The length of time it takes to learn the Igbo language would depend on a number of factors such as your previous and current exposure to the language, length of time committed to learning and practice, how experienced your tutor is and your knowledge of other languages. Generally, a beginner undertaking up to two and a half hours of Igbo classes per week combined with personal study and practice would be able to express themselves in Igbo language within a month of learning. The more time devoted to learning, the better the results. 
You should note that perfecting a language is a journey that requires time and commitment. However, you do not need to be perfect to communicate effectively in a language. For example, a 4-year-old English boy and an English lawyer both communicate effectively in English, but at different levels of proficiency. Higher levels of proficiency take longer: except you want to become an Igbo professor, you will be just fine. Note also, the difference between proficiency and fluency. Proficiency is shown by large vocabulary, a strong grasp of grammar, advanced reading level, etc. Fluency is basically the speed or smoothness with which a language comes out of your mouth. One can be proficient yet have low fluency (slowness in producing speech or impeded pronunciation). It is also possible to be fluent but not proficient. For instance, being able to speak Ìgbò but completely unable to read or write it.
Practical online course for Igbo language learners
There are several Igbo language websites and instructors available online. Based on glowing reviews from learners within and outside Nigeria, the Complete Ìgbò Course on Udemy is highly recommended.
Nwada Onyinye Ibelegbu provides a very detailed but simplified online Igbo language course that is ideal for beginners and intermediate level learners.

The Complete Igbo Course on Udemy provides guidance on all 4 components of Igbo language learning: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing Igbo. 
The course begins with a foundation lecture on the Igbo alphabets and guides you through tones and vowel sounds to lay a foundation for your pronunciation. It then takes you onwards to parts of speech and Igbo sentence formation ensuring that you emerge as a confident speaker at the end of your study. 
Practice exercises are included in each lesson with the answers to these exercises added as an extra resource to the course. What’s more, you will find printable flashcards summarizing the key points at the end of each section.

How to Learn Igbo Language

Around 18 million people living in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea speak Igbo. There are many dialects of the language, some so distinct that two people speaking different dialects of Igbo wouldn’t be able to understand each other. Igbo tones are very different from those used in English and other European languages. If you want to learn Igbo, start by practicing tones, then learn basic grammar and sentence structure. Once this foundation is in place, you can start expanding your vocabulary with common Igbo words and phrases.

Part1Practicing Tone Distinctions and PatternsDownload Article

  1. 1Recognize tonal notes in writing. In written Igbo, low tones are sometimes marked with the grave accent (à). High tones are marked with the acute accent (á). While these accent marks are also used in languages such as French and Spanish, they have a different meaning in Igbo.
    • In French, for example, an accent mark would indicate that you pronounce the letter differently. In Spanish, an accent mark indicates which syllable has emphasis. However, in Igbo, the tone is separate from the pronunciation of the letter itself.
    • Many letters in the Igbo alphabet sound the same in Igbo as they do in English. You can download a free alphabet chart at 
  2. 2Identify high and low tones in speech. Pronounce the high tone with your tongue bent towards the roof of your mouth, such as when you say “rule” in English. The low tone is pronounced with your tongue flatter and lower in your mouth, such as the first syllable of “father” in English.
    • The tone is high or low relative to the other tones around it. For example, “kedu” is a word that means “what” or “how,” and is also used to say “hello.” Pronounce it keh-duh. For the first syllable, use a high tone with your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The second syllable is a low tone, with your tongue flat. Practice it with the first syllable low and the second high just to see how the vowel sound changes with the different tone.
  3. 3Use tone drills to identify different tone patterns. Igbo is a highly tonal language. A word with the same spelling can have up to 4 different meanings depending on the tones used. Listen to a native speaker repeating words that are pronounced the same but have different tone patterns.
    • For example, ákwá (high-high) means “weeping,” ákwà (high-low) means “cloth,” àkwá (low-high) means “egg,” and àkwà (low-low) means “bridge.”
    • The U.S. State Department’s Foreign Language Institute uses a basic Igbo course that includes tone drills. You can download them for free from the Live Lingua Project at
  4. 4Listen to native speakers. Simply listening to spoken Igbo may be the best way to understand the tonal structure of the language. If you don’t know any native speakers, look online. Sites such as YouTube will have videos of people speaking Igbo.
    • If possible, check the dialects being used. Make sure you’re staying consistent within the same dialect. For example, Onitsha and Owerri are the two main Igbo dialect zones. While these dialects have many words in common, even they have some differences.

Part2Understanding Grammatical StructureDownload Article

  1. 1Recognize patterns of spelling. There are different spellings of words across dialects of Igbo. Any spelling you learn is not necessarily the correct spelling of a word, simply one acceptable spelling.
    • Igbo written language is phonetic, so for the most part you will be okay if you learn the pronunciation of letters and write a word as it sounds.
    • If vowels have either a dot under the letter or an umlaut above, this indicates a different pronunciation of that letter. New Standard Orthography uses an umlaut, but you may see previous versions in writing.
  2. 2Distinguish separable from inseparable pronouns. In Igbo, personal pronouns are either separable or inseparable. Inseparable pronouns are singular, and appear in combination with the verb.
    • For example, bi means “live.” If you want to say “I live,” it would be ebi m. For first person singular, the letter “m” follows the verb stem.
    • Separable pronouns can be used as a subject, direct or indirect object, or to show possession. For example, the Igbo word anyï can be used to mean “we,” “us,” or “our.” The word itself does not change regardless of how it’s used.
  3. 3Attach an a- or e- prefix to a verb stem for present tense. To conjugate verbs in present tense, give them a prefix that harmonizes with the verb stem vowel. Use an a- before a vowel stem with an aïö, or ü vowel. The e- prefix harmonizes with ieo, or u vowels.
    • For example: ebi m (I live).
    • You don’t have to harmonize the vowels if you’re using separable pronouns. Simply use the verb stem. For example: anyï bi (we live).
  4. 4Add a suffix to specify tense. Igbo verbs do not distinguish between past and present tense. Rather, suffixes are used to indicate when the action took place. 
    • The suffix -tara or -tere is added to a verb stem to indicate an action occurred in the past. For example: ö zütara anü (he bought meat).
    • Choose the suffix form to harmonize vowels, not for gender or any other reason.
  5. 5Use number words to make nouns plural. In Igbo, nouns do not change form if they are plural. You can identify whether a word is singular or plural by looking at the words around it. Number words are found after the noun, while ordinals precede the noun.
    • For example: ülö ise means “five houses.” The word ülö means “house” while ise means “five.”
  6. 6Practice talking to a native speaker. Look for an Igbo or Nigerian community group near you and see if they have any language resources available. Ideally, you can perfect your language skills by working with someone who has native fluency.
    • If you find someone who is trying to learn English, you might be able to work out an exchange in which both of you help each other practice.
    • Helping a native speaker learn English will also help you understand the grammatical structure of Igbo. They may make mistakes because some aspect of English grammar is absent from Igbo grammar. For example, they might say “five house” instead of “five houses,” because in Igbo the noun form doesn’t change when pluralized.

Part3Building VocabularyDownload Article

  1. 1Start with words that are borrowed from English. There are many words in Igbo that are borrowed from English. Although they may have a slightly different spelling and pronunciation, they’ll be some of the easiest words for you to pick up if you already know English.
    • For example, “congratulations” in Igbo is kongratuleshön.
  2. 2Learn basic greetings. When you have basic greetings down, you can start a conversation with native speakers. Conversing with native speakers can help you increase your vocabulary as well as understanding common words and phrases used.
    • Start with the basic greeting, “hello”: kedü. Other common phrases said in greeting are built from this word. For example, “How are you?” is “Kedü ka ö dï?” To ask a person’s name, you would say “Kedu aha gï?”
  3. 3Read stories written in Igbo. Reading can also help you build vocabulary because you can see the words and learn what they mean in context. Children’s stories and books can be helpful because they are often illustrated. The pictures can give you a clue as to what the words mean.
    • Columbia University has a collection of Igbo language materials available at 
  4. 4Listen to Nigerian popular music. While a lot of the popular Nigerian music has lyrics in Yoruba, one of the 4 official languages of the country, Igbo-language music has also broken into the mainstream.
    • The rhythm of music and the repetitiveness of lyrics makes music an easy way to learn any language. Additionally, you can have music on in the background while you’re doing other things.
    • Identify artists you enjoy, then search for songs and videos on sites such as YouTube.

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