When Haitians ask me how I learned to speak their language, I tell them “From the Internet, without paying anything” and point out they can learn English the same way, a nice way to introduce Project Rive and its goal.
Was it hard? Well, grammar and vocab are easy. Many of the words come from French, and you won’t have to memorize any verb tables because all the conjugation you’ll ever do is handled by the same 3 particles. The hardest part was mastering the rhythm of speech, since many words are contracted, and tracking down the right resources to study with. Here’s all the things you might find helpful all in one place, so you don’t have to search as long as I did.
Free and Downloadable
This website has a lot of good info about different resources. That page specifically is talking about Byki, which was one of the first things I used. It’s tedious, but you do have the option of choosing which lists to learn (so you can focus on the ones relevant to you and the ones you need practice on). It’s also one of the best ways to learn pronunciation.
Another way to learn pronunciation is to get the audio tapes of Chita Pa Bay and Ti Koze Kreyol. The audio files along with the textbooks can be found on the University of Kansas website. I wouldn’t recommend these for a complete beginner, though: they’re more for building on vocabulary and grammar: practicing instead of learning, basically.
For learning I would recommend just reading about the basics of Kreyol grammar on Wikipedia or this website.
I also came across this little gem, a blog run by a native Haitian speaker with some great explanations of specific grammar points and audio to practice with. She’ll also answer any question you have within days…priceless.
Here’s a newspaper published in Kreyol with news about Haiti. They sometimes do audio too that you can practice with.
If you’re willing to spend money…
I didn’t use any of these resources personally when I was learning, but here’s what I know about each and their potential usefulness to a beginner:
This phrasebook was developed after the earthquake and gives you the basics you’ll need to communicate. A good study tool for plugging up gaps in your knowledge and preparing for specific situations.
Creole Made Easy by Wally R. Turnbull offers the best explanations and examples I’ve seen of grammar. If you’re looking for a methodical approach to getting a grasp of the rules, this is the book for you.
There’s also a Pimsleur course available. The Pimsleur method of listen and repeat bores me, so I’ve never actually sat through one of their lessons. If hearing is how you learn best, this might be worth trying, but I can’t guarantee the audio pronunciations will be accurate since I’ve never listened to it myself.
There’s also Haiti Hub, a website where you pay to access learning modules that introduce vocabulary and grammar through videos and exercises. If you benefit from an extremely-structured approach, this might be worth checking out. They’re also making efforts to expand their approach and include the community more – I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.
Anything by Joseph J. Charles. Not worth the time or money – disorganized and too basic to really help you understand anything.