Swahili is the most popular language of Sub-Saharan Africa. It is spoken by approximately 50 million people in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Congo (DRC), the Comoros, and, marginally, in northern Mozambique, southern Somalia, northern Malawi and northern Zambia. Swahili is a national language in Tanzania, Kenya and Congo (DRC). It also has official status in Tanzania, Kenya and in Uganda (along with English).
Swahili is characterized by the typical complex Bantu structure. However, it is particularly easy to pronounce and fast learned.

Swahili at UChicago

Each year at the University of Chicago, we offer a three-quarter sequence of Swahili at the elementary level.  In alternating years, we offer three-quarter sequences at either the intermediate or advanced level.  Depending on student demand, an additional class focused on the grammar and other linguistic aspects of the language may also be available. The elementary course series focuses on communication in everyday life situations, on writing and presenting short descriptive notes about oneself or various situations in relation with East Africa. Elementary level students are also offered a weekly teaching assistant session aimed to improve their speaking practice and their grammar usage.  The intermediate and advanced course series develop further the student fluency and include more discussion about East African cultures and societies as well as current events, basing on extensive textual and audiovisual materials.
The elementary class level is based on Living Swahili and Swahili Grammar and Workbook, while the latter is also used for the intermediate level and the linguistic class.
At the intermediate level we also use Tusome Kiswahili and a reader of Safari ya Lamu. The latter is also used at the advanced level, along with various novels in Swahili.
Swahili instructor
Teaching Assistant
Innocent Basso (innobasso@uchicago.edu)

Courses Offered

The elementary level is offered every year, while the other courses are offered in alternating years or as requested.  Please visit the Linguistics Courses webpage or contact the instructor for information about current courses.

Elementary Swahili I, II, III
25200-25300-25400/35200-35300-35400. This course is designed to help students acquire communicative competence in Swahili and a basic understanding of its structures. The course presents basic phonological, grammatical, and syntactic patterns of Kiswahili. Through a variety of exercises, students develop communicative functionality in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Emphasis is put on dialogues and role-plays, individual and group presentations, and the use of audiovisual and web-based resources. Swahili culture and African culture in general are an important component of the course.
At the end of this course, the students are able to communicate efficiently in everyday life situations, write and present short descriptive notes about elementary pieces of verbal creation (documentaries and descriptive audio-texts in Swahili).
This course uses a communication textbook with audio CDs supplemented with a comprehensive grammatical textbook and a variety of authentic materials, in both written and audio-visual forms. It allows fulfilling the non-Indo-European language requirement. Autumn, Winter, Spring.
Intermediate Swahili I, II, III
26800-26900-27000/36800-36900-37000.  PQ: Elementary Swahili sequence or consent of instructor.  Students focus on broadening their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in this course. They learn to use sophisticated sentence structures and expression of complex ideas in Swahili. Advanced readings and essay writing are based on student interests.  Autumn, Winter, Spring.
Advanced Swahili I, II, III
27200-27300-27400/37200-37300-37400. PQ: Intermediate Swahili sequence or consent of instructor. This course is focused on advanced listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, with long textual or audiovisual materials.  Exercises in class include discussion about various topics in relation with East African cultures and societies, text rewriting, dialogue production and performance, and essay presentation.  Students are assigned advanced readings and essay writing based on their own interests. Autumn,Winter, Spring.
Advanced Reading in Swahili I, II, III
28375-28376-28377/38375-38376-38377. PQ: Advanced Swahili sequence or consent of instructor.  This course emphasizes analysis and discussion about various literary and audiovisual works in Swahili.  The presentations in class will cover novels and short stories as well as popular movies.  The students also will be assigned short literary works and other authentic texts or audiovisual materials for written homework and in class discussion.  In the end, the students will be able to express an informed appreciation in Swahili on original works and formal discourse in Swahili. Autumn, Winter, Spring.
Linguistic Introduction to Swahili I
LING 28355/38355.  Spoken in ten countries of Eastern and Central Africa, Swahili has more speakers than any other language in the Bantu family, a group of more than 400 languages most prevalent in sub-equatorial Africa. Based on Swahili Grammar and Workbook, this course helps the students master key areas of the Swahili language in a fast yet enjoyable pace. Topics include sound and intonation patterns, noun class agreements, verb moods, and sentence structures. Additionally, this course provides important listening and expressive reading skills. For advanced students, historical interpretations are offered for exceptional patterns observed in Swahili, in relation with other Bantu languages. This is a general introduction course with no specific prerequisites.
Linguistic Introduction to Swahili II
LING 28356/38356.  PQ: LING 28355/38355.  Based on Swahili Grammar and Workbook, this course is a continuation of Linguistic Introduction to Swahili I. It addresses complex issues related to grammatical agreement, verb moods, noun and verb derivation, non-typical adjectives and adverbs, double object constructions, subordinate/coordinated clause constructions, and dialectal variation. Additionally, this course provides important listening and expressive reading skills. For advanced students, historical interpretations are offered for exceptional patterns observed in Swahili, in relation with other Bantu languages.