Swahili at Northwestern

Every year, Northwestern offers courses in Swahili, one of the most widely spoken languages on the continent. To see which courses we currently offer, please see our current course list.

Course Overview

This is the beginner's Swahili class and is open to undergraduate and graduate students. There are three courses in sequence from Fall to Spring. The course presents the essentials of modern Standard Swahili grammar while proficiency in the language is developed. The expectation is that by the end of the first year, a diligent student will be able to acquire ACTFL "novice mid" to "novice high" oral proficiency along with basic literacy skills (see Foreign Language Annals Vol. 33, No.1, p. 12-18 for ACTFL descriptors). The course is organized on the national standard first-year text, Swahili: A Foundation for Speaking, Reading, and Writing, by Thomas Hinnebusch and Sarah Mirza. A significant amount of work for the course involves accessing the class's dedicated Blackboard website and interacting with multimedia resources there. Students will perform some course assignments, take some tests, interact with digital audio and video files, and create a personal webpage within the Swahili I Blackboard site.

Professor Michael Wairungu

Swahili classes are taught by Professor Michael Wairungu. He is a linguistic anthropologist who specializes in multilingualism, language contact, ethnography of communication, and language policy in education. He earned his PhD in anthropology from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. He previously held a Mellon Globalization Forum fellowship at Sewanee University and was a Fulbright visiting scholar at Stanford University. His research focuses on urban youth vernaculars and identity in Kenya, particularly the influence of the Sheng dialect on Christian practices. He recently published an article, “The Rise of Sheng: A Sociolinguistic Revolution from Below,” in African Youth in Contemporary Literature and Popular Culture (ed. Vivian Yenika-Agbaw and Lindah Mhando, Routledge, 2014). He is revising his dissertation for publication and plans to conduct further research on Sheng among young Kenyans at home and in the diaspora.

Contact Michael Wairungu

Learn Swahili

Learn Swahili

Spring 2017 Language Tables