Portuguese is also used in the schools as the language that is used to teach all subjects, which seems an awfully strange and inefficient means of educating students when most kids learn to speak kriolu before they can speak Portuguese. It is also surprising that kriolu has not been made the other official language of Cape Verde since it is one of the things that is the basis of its unique culture. Most songs are sung in kriolu! But I digress, and will leave that matter for the politicians.
Here's a little historical background on kriolu:
The term Kriolu is derived from the Portuguese word Crioulo, which in turn is derived from "criar" meaning “to raise” and "olo" defined as “house - a typical African house in the Portuguese African colonies."It is not particularly necessary to learn kriolu or Portuguese if you are planning to visit the island for a brief period because many Cape Verdeans are multi-lingual and you will find that you will be able to communicate relatively easily in whatever language you're comfortable. Whether you're out shopping, going to a restaurant or just hanging out at your hotel, you'll find someone who can speak your language.
The slaves deliberately created Kriolu as a language they could use to communicate among themselves yet not be understood by their owners. The colonizers did not want to welcome Kriolu because it would have jeopardized their absolute power to control the situation. Therefore, they tried unsuccessfully to eradicate the Cape Verdean language and their cultural identity.
Professor Agnelo Montrond, Massasoit Community College, Boston, Massachusetts
But there is always an interest on the part of many people to learn kriolu. You may be a foreigner looking to spend an extended period in the islands, or you may be of Cape Verdean descent living abroad and you've never learned or been taught kriolu. Or maybe you just want to explore and learn a new language.
You can order it from here. It is also available in some libraries in the US. There is a separate and highly academic book available on Amazon. It is also considerably more expensive.
So you can theoretically learn kriolu from a book. I had purchased that book at a Cape Verdean cultural fair several years ago and it was helpful for a basic introduction to kriolu. I purchased the book after I first visited Cape Verde, and it was very helpful in the sense that I could recognize in the book, some of the words I was hearing on the street. But even that was not easy.
In my experience, there is no way you can really learn kriolu from a book. The reason is that when Cape Verdean people speak kriolu, they speak with a certain accent, the emphasis is placed on certain parts of words, and it is not easy to tell where one words ends and another begins. And the kriolu varies from one island to another in terms of words, emphasis, and accent. But the biggest challenge is that in some islands like Sao Vicente, they do not pronounce the entire word ... the syllables at the end of most words are silent!!! So it can be very confusing. But in Santiago and other islands, they pronounce every syllable of each word, so it is much easier to learn the kriolu of Santiago ... although it hardly helps that they speak kriolu at a rapid fire pace - LOL.
And take it from me, residents of one island often have extreme difficulty understanding the kriolu spoken by the residents of another island (depending on which islands we're talking about). For example, it would be comedy hour to observe a local of Santiago trying to converse with a local of Santo Antao. However this came about is such a small nation is not only hilarious, it is downright charming. And it made a novice like me more comfortable learning and practicing kriolu knowing that I would be in the company of expert speakers of kriolu (from a different island) if I ever was laughed at.
The result is that the book will serve as a good reference to look at when you are trying to figure out something you heard in kriolu! But there is no better way to learn kriolu - the language, slangs and colloquialisms - than by actually visiting Cape Verde and immersing yourself in kriolu. It took me FOUR years to learn kriolu. I spent time in Mindelo (Sao Vicente) and Praia (Santiago). In Mindelo, there are many people from Santo Antao and Sao Nicolau, so you will hear those variations in Mindelo. And in Praia, there are lots of people from Fogo and Brava. So you will hear all those variations in Praia. I've found that the most colorful speakers are those from Fogo and Brava! I love to hear them speak kriolu. They speak the language like they love to hear it themselves.
I had only ever spoken English my whole life, so maybe that's longer than it will take others to learn kriolu if they have spoken other languages, such as Portuguese or Spanish. You will likely be able to learn kriolu much faster than I did.