African Languages at UCLA
Summer 2010 Tigrinya Students

African Languages at UCLA

Learn about African languages taught at UCLA.

"Upon entering UCLA's African Studies program I found learning an African language challenging. I had resisted the idea for months, convincing myself that cross-cultural differences could be mended with Euro-Western languages, namely, English and French, in Anglophone and Francophone Africa. However, it wasn't until my final year at UCLA when I traveled to Uganda for research and returned to Ghana for leisure that I realized how limited the English language can be. My American-centric thinking was challenged by the mere fact that language is a channel for personal expression, especially for bi- or multi-lingual speakers who may speak a common language, but prefer other mechanisms in which they can express themselves. This epiphany enabled me to understand intergenerational communication gaps between older and younger people in Uganda. Now I recognize the importance of learning African languages. For me, speaking African languages has meant building relationships and respect and gaining knowledge on cultural norms and idiosyncrasies."

Marcelle Little, MA in African Studies, 2009

New! UCLA will offer Beginning Swahili in Summer 2012

UCLA’s Department of Applied Linguistics is pleased to announce that it will be offering AF LANG 15: Elementary Intensive Swahili during Summer Sessions 2012. This 8-week course meets Monday through Friday from 9:00am-12:50pm,  in Rolfe 3120, and provides students with intensive instruction in Swahili, a major language of East Africa. The course is the equivalent of one year (three quarters) of elementary Swahili, and will thus satisfy the College’s Foreign Language requirement.
Enrollment in AF LANG 15 is now open. Interested students should contact Professor Katrina Thompson with questions.  See the Department of Applied Linguistics for more information.

New! Part-time instructor needed for Swahili in 2012-13

UCLA’s Department of Applied Linguistics seeks to hire a part-time (63% time) lecturer for Swahili during the 2012-13 academic year.  Course load will include 5 courses (Beginning and Intermediate in Fall and Winter; Beginning only in Spring).  The Beginning course meets five days a week, 9-10 a.m., and the Intermediate course meets four days a week (Mon - Thurs) 10-11 a.m. Applicants should have substantial Swahili teaching experience and at least an MA in a language-related field.  Please send a cover letter that addresses experience and teaching philosophy, a CV, and a list of three references with contact information, to: Dr. Katrina Daly Thompson, 3320 Rolfe Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095 or by email to  Review of applications will begin on 21 May 2012.

UCLA offers regular instruction in:

  • Swahili
  • Modern Standard and Colloquial Egyptian Arabic
  • Afrikaans

In the 2011-12 academic year, the following classes are being offered:

  • Elementary Swahili
  • Intermediate Swahili
  • Intermediate Tigrinya

We are also able to offer other languages during Summer Sessions. Recent offerings have included:

2006 Amharic, Swahili, Yoruba

2007 Amharic, Swahili, Zulu

2008 Igbo, Swahili, Tigrinya

2010 Tigrinya

Students interested in another language in the summer should submit an expression of interest via email.

View our website for information about TAships.

Other African Languages

Other African languages should be occasionally taught as tutorials under faculty supervision using Linguistics, Library, and Instructional Media Center resources; Amharic, Bambara, Cape Verde Creole, Chichewa, Ewe, Kimbundu, Sotho, Yoruba, and Wolof have been given over the years.

Published: Thursday, May 03, 2012