top of page
Banana Leaf

Garifuna Language Workbook

Garifuna Language Workbook New Cover.jpg

The Garifuna Language Workbook, which was published by GAHFU, Inc. through its Clifford J. Palacio Garifuna Language & Culture Academy, is highly recommended for those individuals who take their language and culture very seriously. The language workbook was the labor of love of GAHFU’s board of directors, Dr. Michele Goldwasser. Surusia (Dr.) Goldwasser has been documenting the classes that have been ongoing from 2008 until this day. Her work in the Garifuna community of Los Angeles is commendable. She has facilitated the acquisition of grants not only for the Garifuna Language & Culture Academy but also for the Wanaragua of Los Angeles group led by its Chief Flavio Alvarez.

But I am not going to say too much about the terrific work that Surusia Goldwasser has done in the community instead, I would like to focus on the wonderful work she put into the documenting, collaborating, and designing of the Garifuna Language Workbook. One of the most outstanding innovations I found out to be the inclusion of the Uraga. The Uraga or storytelling, is the best way to learn Garifuna not only for foreigners but also for Garinagu in general. The Uraga tells fascinating stories that go from fiction, comedy to lived experiences. Not only did Surusia Goldwasser take the time to include the meanings of certain phrases and words as found in the uraga, but also she was meticulous in making sure that the grammar was as close as possible to the standardization of the language rules found in Valeria Palacios Castillo handbook .

I was also enthralled by the work she did on the verbs. Surusia Michele stated “Garifuna is a VSO (Verb+Subject+Object) language. In other words, the verb comes first, then the subject, and then the object. English and Spanish, by contrast, are SVO languages.” (Goldwasser, p. 39) This very important claim is the key to my own successful learning style. I have become more conscious about the way I speak Garifuna now always remembering the VSO order.

Another aspect of the Garifuna Workbook that I love is the exercises presented where the student is challenged to translate from Garifuna to English and vice-versa. This technique helps the student to grow in the learning of the language. I remember what Arufudahati Clifford J. Palacio would always tell me when I used to attend the teachers’ training classes he offered us once a week, “Repetition is the mother of learning”. Therefore, every week we met for the training, Mr. Palacio encouraged to read and to repeat the same vocabulary at the beginning of each session emphasizing that every syllable be read slowly and clearly.

Surusia Goldwasser did a lot of her work under the supervision and undivided help of her mentors like Clifford J. Palacio, Ruben Reyes, Ben Flores, Bill Flores, Jessie Castillo, the Garifuna Language & Culture Academy, and the writings from Honduras’ foremost professor in the language, Salvador Suazo and Belize’s Roy Cayetano and his The People’s Garifuna Dictionary.

You can order your Garifuna Language Workbook from Amazon directly either paperback or digital download:

Review by Rony Figueroa, Vice-President and Co-Founder of the Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United, Inc. a non-profit, 501 c-3 organization founded in 2005 and based in Long Beach, CA. For more information on this workbook, please call (323) 898-6841. Also visit us on Facebook: GAHFU Garifuna and on YouTube Channel: GAHFU for free Garifuna lessons on line, on demand.


Goldwasser, M. (2012). Garifuna Language Workbook. Los Angeles, CA: GAHFU, Inc. Publishing

Ariana Valle, Clifford J. Palacio Academy Student

The Garifuna Language Workbook gives great insight into the richness of Garifuna language, culture, and traditional practices. Particularly, the exercises throughout the workbook are creatively designed to reinforce the material. As a non-native speaker, I found lesson one is a great introduction into everyday terminology and phrases that could be practiced and applied straightforwardly. The crossword puzzles are also clever exercises that provide the right balance between engagement and challenge. Overall the workbook is intelligently crafted to foster the development and strengthening of Garifuna language through a variety of learning tools coupled with a gradual escalation of difficulty suitable for more advanced learners.

-Ariana Valle, Student

Ariana J. Valle
Doctoral Student
Department of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles
264 Haines Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

El libro de Trabajo del Lenguage Garifuna da una buena vision de la riqueza del idioma, cultura y practicas tradicionales de la etnia Garifuna. Muy en particular, los ejercicios a lo largo y ancho del libro son diseñados con una creatividad para re-enforzar el material didactico. Yo, como un individuo que no es nativo parlante del Garifuna, me di cuenta que la primera leccion es una introduccion dentro de lo que la terminologia diaria con frases que pueden ser practicadas y aplicadas directa y facilmente. En general, este manual de trabajo fue creado inteligentemente para fomentar el desarrollo y re-enforzar el idioma Garifuna a travez de una variedad de herramientos que con la ayuda del avanze gradual de dificultad, se hace tan apropiado para un estudiante avanzado al mismo tiempo.


Ariana Valle, Estudiante
Candidata a Doctorado en Sociologia de la UCLA


Yellow Envelope
bottom of page