Learn Swahili!

Learn Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa!

Swahili, also called Kiswahili, is only spoken by a few million people as a native language, but by tens of millions more as an important language of trade and diplomacy along 1,500 miles of the East African coastline. It is an official language of Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Congo.

As an African language, Swahili has no relation to European languages, and has some concepts very different from them. But by most accounts, it is not especially hard to learn Swahili for native English speakers. Much of the vocabulary comes from other languages through trade and contact. Nearly 25% of Swahili vocabulary is Arabic in origin, but some vocabulary also comes from Persian, German, English and Portuguese.

Opportunities to use and learn Swahili on your own are not many, but there are enough to get you started.

Kiko Learn Swahili Course
This is a free online course to learn Swahili that is very comprehensive. Lots of audio and video.

This online tutorial has lots of grammar, vocabulary, music, games and other resources to learn and use Swahili.

Internet/Free FSI Swahili
This site has downloadable versions (text files are in pdf format and the audio is mp3) of FSI language courses. There is an extensive Swahili course available. It is legal and free. This is probably your best free option for learning Swahili. The FSI courses are older and a little out-of-date (a lot in some cases) but they are comprehensive learning courses and you just can't beat the price.

Transparent Language offers a free vocabulary trainer to get started learning Swahili. Get your Free BYKI™ Lite download by Transparent Language


This inexpensive software program by Transparent Language is a great tool to have in your arsenal. Lots of vocabulary and phrases, dialogues, audio from native speakers, games and activities and much more to get you started on your path learning Swahili.

Book/Audio Combo
Teach Yourself Swahili
Teach Yourself makes courses for so many different languages and each course is tailor made for that language. Teach Yourself Swahili comes with a coursebook and two audio cd's for listening to the dialogues. This is probably the easiest to use, least expensive and most extensive course for learning Swahili. If you work diligently through it, you will have a great foundation in the language.

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- Henri Delacroix

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