“Yoruba is one of the major languages spoken in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.” I spoke with Dr. Taiye Ayoola-Adedeji about her innovative and groundbreaking book and the importance of actively learning, teaching and passing on language. She shared her passion behind her newest creation.
Dr. Taiye Ayoola-Adedeji earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Maryland, School of Pharmacy, a top institution in the US. She is also the CEO of her publishing company, Taikun Publishing, and the author of the innovative, educational and interactive bilingual (Yoruba-English) book titled The Yoruba Sound Book for Children. Dr. Taiye is passionate about preserving and promoting the Yoruba language and culture, particularly in the diaspora where comprehensive resources to learn or teach the tonal Yoruba language are limited. She lives in Maryland with her husband and children and enjoys engaging her audience in various ways including via cultural classes, community events, speaking engagements and through her YORTONES platform on social media, among other forums.
Dr. Taiye Ayoola-Adedeji is inspiring people around the world with her first book, The Yoruba Sound Book for Children. The bilingual sound book includes Yoruba words that are translated into English along with worksheets embedded to reinforce concepts learned. It is a hands-on, verbal, and auditory learning experience for children of all ages. Yoruba is a highly tonal language so sound, and music are very important when learning to speak it. It is much easier to learn Yoruba language with the extremely helpful features, such as the verbal dictations in Yoruba, translations into English, fun puzzles, quizzes and cultural songs, that have all been included in the bilingual book to ensure an educational, entertaining and successful experience for all.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Dr. Taiye wanted to share her native Yoruba culture and language with her children while at home in the U.S. After not being able to discover products that had the correct diacritical marks, tones and pronunciations, she began her creative process of writing a comprehensive book that would incorporate all of these important characteristics of the Yoruba language. Now, she wants to share The Yoruba Sound Book for Children with other parents, children and anyone who is interested in learning the West African language. Since her official launch of her book in early 2022, Dr. Taiye has discovered that her book has been a wonderful resource to countless families and children in so many different and important ways.
Young children who are in the process of developing their language skills will benefit from the many different features in this book because they will be able to see the colorful images, read the words, write in the book, sing along with the songs, and hear the correct pronunciations both in Yoruba and English. By incorporating pronunciations and English translations, Dr. Taiye makes the book accessible to anyone who is interested in learning the Yoruba language and knowing more about the Yoruba culture.
“The older children get, the more you have to negotiate and convince them as to why this is important. My son once asked me, ‘well if no one at school speaks Yoruba, why do I have to learn it?’ So, I told him ‘It is a part of your heritage, and you must be proud of it,’” said Dr. Taiye.
It has been proven by researchers that acquiring linguistic skills by learning one’s native language closely correlates with the development of higher cognitive abilities and evidence suggests that being bilingual has cognitive benefits. This process is especially important at a young age and Dr. Taiye advocates for the importance and urgency of instilling a sense of pride regarding cultural identity and heritage early in a child’s life as this could potentially help build self-esteem and lead to higher level of self-confidence later in life. The Yoruba Sound Book for Children contains key concepts such as numbers, colors, days of the week, animals, foods, body parts, and short greetings. With the book’s colorful images, a soothing voice-over from the author herself, puzzles, quizzes, and songs, readers are guaranteed to be actively engaged and will enjoy learning the Yoruba language.
Dr. Taiye’s goals expand beyond ensuring that her own children appreciate and value their rich cultural heritage. She wants to share this book with communities and people of all ages, especially those who may not be as familiar with African cultures and languages. Millions of Nigerians, many of whom are from the Yoruba ethnic group, migrate and live in large communities found in the United States and abroad. An estimated 600,000 to 1,000,000 Nigerians contribute to the rich fabric of this nation’s landscape. Given these statistics, Dr. Taiye’s desire to share the richness of the Yoruba language and culture […] globally is realized through the release of this book.”
“Yoruba culture is very rich. Culture is a vehicle through which one can teach children values and set good expectations for them,” said Dr. Taiye.
One of such cultural values is respectfulness, which is a key part of the Yoruba cultural experience. Dr. Taiye explained that the young within the community are expected to show respect to older members of the family and community at all times. According to Dr Taiye, celebrations are another enjoyable part of Yoruba culture. The community is typically family-oriented, and many people will often come together on occasions such as weddings, naming ceremonies, birthdays, and festivals to celebrate with a lot of music, dancing and drumming. Drums (known as ìlù) are a staple in Yoruba celebrations. In the past, they were often used to communicate messages across villages and are typically used in celebrating all kinds of events even to date. From a historical perspective, history was passed down orally in Yorubaland.
“At sunset, the elders would gather the young children to tell them stories such as those about their great ancestors and ones that conveyed wise lessons to be applied in life situations. Drums were also very useful in those settings,” said Dr. Taiye.
Dr. Taiye shared that the book is a gift that keeps on giving in so many different ways. “I met a woman who attended the Children’s Hour with Yoruba language, a cultural class that I recently hosted, and she was thrilled that she found and ordered the comprehensive sound book because, according to her, her adopted son, who is Yoruba, was feeling homesick at the time and the book really helped him feel connected to Nigeria, his birthplace. The book also gave them added opportunities to bond as they learned the Yoruba words together,” said Dr. Taiye.
This is just the beginning for Dr. Taiye, “In the next book within the YORTONES book series, kids that have learned all of the words in the first book will be able to graduate to the next level and increase their vocabulary with new content.”
To learn more about the book, Yoruba culture and language, listen to our full conversation with Dr. Taiye at the link below. The Yoruba Sound Book for Children can be found online at YORTONES, on Amazon, or at Walmart.
To connect with Dr. Taiye, please visit her on social media via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube
Interview & Article written by Nicole Milanovic
Edited by Risikat Okedeyi
Podcast Produced by Pieterjan Eyckmans
Supported by Charles Buckley, Adedayo Fashanu.