Swahili resources to use alongside with the Duolingo Swahili course

Karibu na hamjambo, Duolingo! Here is a resource compilation for Swahili, to keep those who are waiting for the Duolingo course happy and ready for Swahili!

Why should I learn Swahili?!

Swahili is a language spoken in East Africa, with around 5-15 million native speakers, but, is used as a lingua franca throughout East Africa, and including 2nd and 3rd language speakers, that number can be up to 150 million speakers or more in total! If you've seen the Lion King by Disney, you probably already know some Swahili.

Rafiki - Friend

Simba - Lion

Nala - Gift

Pumba(a) - Stupid

Hakuna Matata - No worries

Jenga - (v.) Build

Map of where Swahili is spoken:

Fun facts:

  • Swahili used to be written in the Arabic script
  • Swahili is an agglutinative language
  • It is spoken in 8 countries, though only 3 of them have Swahili as the official language(Tanzania, Kenya, D.R.C)

Pronunciation sites: - Site with 200 words pronounced by native speakers in 8 different languages; Xhosa, Zulu, Amharic, Wolof, Hausa, Swahili, Igbo, and Akan Twi. - is a great website to hear native speakers of a language upload pronunciations of words in many different languages!

Youtube videos and channels: - The Swahili Language, by LangFocus. Very interesting and informative guide to the Swahili language, and basic grammar and a couple words are taught in this video - SwahiliPod101 has a website as well. SwahiliPod101 has short and informative videos that teach you Swahili. - Teaches Swahili in his lessons, can elaborate on topics regarding Swahili and teaches a variety of topics; his website - There is a Swahili playlist on this channel with 50+ videos, mainly focused on grammar. - Playlist for Swahili stories in Swahili with subtitles.

Songs in Swahili - Yemi Alade - Na Gode; lyrics - Baba Yetu (The Lord's Prayer in Swahili)-Alex Boyé, BYU Men's Chorus & Philharmonic; Christopher Tin; lyrics - Sauti Sol and Alikiba - Unconditionally Bae; lyrics - Diamond Platnumz - Ntampata Wapi; lyrics - Kenyan National Anthem Acapella; lyrics in the description box of the video - Tanzanian National Anthem; lyrics in the description box of the video - The Jambo Bwana song, a catchy song to help you memorize some basic introductions and phrases in Swahili. (lyrics included in the video) - Diamond Platnumz - Utanipenda, English lyrics in video, Swahili lyrics - Sauti Sol - Kuliko Jana; lyrics - Miriam Makeba - Malaika, classic song from 1974; lyrics in both Swahili and English are included in the video

Swahili-English dictionaries:

Books and courses: - Colloquial Swahili book - University of Kansas course on Swahili, very good site. - Teach yourself Swahili, basic course - Intro to Swahili, another basic Swahili course - VERY incomplete wikibooks guide, very basic info on Swahili. - Swahili course with audio (audio is loud, turn down volume) - PBS Swahili basic words and phrases Another more extensive Swahili course, PDF file Basic swahili vocab - Swahili pronunciation and grammar - Language transfer has 21 lessons on soundcloud teaching you Swahili

Major language learning sites with Swahili courses - Duolingo Swahili course(duh!)) - 3 Swahili teachers on there, Skype needed to talk with teachers from Kenya and Tanzania - Swahili memrise courses, memrise helps with memorizing vocabulary - PAID, 1ST LESSON FREE Pimsleur has a 30 minute course if you ask for a free lesson, you don't need to put a real e-mail if you don't want to , they don't require you to check your e-mail for a free lesson

Other/Miscellaneous - Swahili forum, pretty active - Swahili verb conjugation, enter the verb without the ku- infinitive - Old website with basic Swahili vocab, some links are broken/blank - Basic Swahili phrasebook - PAID; Website to buy Swahili books

News(Habari), Podcasts, and Radio - Ugandan radio stations - Tanzanian radio in Swahili - Swahili and English Kenyan radio stations, you can tell which language it is in by seeing the words on the logos - BBC in Swahili - Tanzania based news website - Swahili podcast - Swahili news site - News in Swahili

I hope this gets you guys excited for Swahili, the Swahili contributors have been working super hard! Enjoy the resources! If you see any errors (factual or spelling), broken links or links that don't go to the correct website, or want to add anything else, feel free to comment down below! Kwa heri na Asante sana! (Good bye and thank you!)

November 11, 2016


Thanks for the links.

Language Transfer has a free Swahili course now.

November 11, 2016

Thank you!! Added!

November 11, 2016

I'm so exicted that Swahili is nearly out! I have been waiting so long for it to be released (I was dismayed when it was delayed from August). My family does a lot of work in Kenya and I would love to be able to speak and understand more than the few words all visitors learn.

November 13, 2016

That's why his name is Simba? That's awesome. :O

November 11, 2016

I guess so ;D

November 11, 2016

Some more Lion King names:

  • Mufasa (Simba's father) means "king" in Swhili

  • Sarabi (Simba's mother) means "mirage" in Swahili

  • Two of the Hyena Trio have Swahili names; Shenzi (uncouth) and Banzai (lurk)

  • This is not mentioned in the movie, but Scar's original name was Taka (meaning something along the line of "trash" or "garbage" in Swahili). He requested to be called Scar after he gained the scar on his eye. In Lion King II, his son Kovu was named after him (yes, Scar was a father proir to his fate), kovu being Swahili for "scar".

Full list of names in the Lion King franchise (including Lion Guard, Lion King 1/2, and books):

November 12, 2016

Interesting. The Lion King does seem to have a Swahili naming theme, which I'm happy for =D

November 12, 2016

The setting for The Lion King is based off the wildlife seen in Kenya, so I guess it's only natural that most of the characters have names from the language of the area. I think that it's a good thing they try to do that as often as possible.

November 12, 2016

The singing at the start of Circle of Life is in Zulu though, yeah?

May 8, 2017

Yes, and the movie was officially dubbed in Zulu but never Swahili. The setting is still Kenyan, however.

May 8, 2017

Talking about lion king, Learn Swahili the fastest way by watching the students themselves speaking it and hear their clear pronunciation. See the difficulties students go though in learning Swahili with Mwalimu Hamdy and pick up new phrases and vocabulary.

Please watch the FREE preview lectures to get a glimpse here :


October 17, 2018

Thank you. I am excited about this. Swahili is a beautiful language. My cousin is fluent.

November 12, 2016

You're awesome!

November 12, 2016

[deactivated user]

    Can't wait for Swahili! I have many friends who speak it and can't wait to speak it with them.

    November 12, 2016

    Jenga means build?

    That's great! Also, the songs are so amazing! It is such a beautiful language, I must learn it. I think I have passed the point of no return. I want to learn/am learning too many languages to be considered normal. Anyway, thanks for the resources, they will be used.

    November 11, 2016

    Glad you liked them! Yes (ku)jenga means (to) build! I think I read somewhere that that is how they came up with the name for it!

    November 11, 2016

    The creator of the game didn't want it to have an English name and sense he was a native Swahili speaker (I believe) he chose Jenga.

    April 11, 2017

    Actually it was a woman who created the game. She had done work in East Africa and used the Swahili word "jenga."

    September 14, 2018


    March 28, 2019

    Wow I played this game during childhood days and didn't realise its name came from Swahili!

    October 30, 2017

    This is great! Thanks!

    November 11, 2016

    Your welcome =D

    November 11, 2016

    I've been waiting for three years and Duolingo is finally out. Here's another one that I used. Very useful for beginner Swahili.

    2 Seeds Swahili

    February 26, 2017

    That's a huge list of useful resources :)

    Most of the languages Duolingo teaches have lists of resources like this on their page on the Duolingo Wiki. Swahili has no resources at all yet, though: If you were able to find the time to add your resources there, you'd provide a really useful resource for future Swahili learners.

    November 12, 2016

    That's cool! How do I add stuff on to the wiki? It says I'm not allowed to edit anything.

    November 12, 2016

    How odd. I think Wikia allows anonymous editing - I think you just have to click edit. It might be worth logging in and seeing whether it'll let you.

    November 14, 2016

    That's interesting. Rafiki means "my partner" in Arabic. =)

    November 12, 2016

    Swahili has lots of Arabic loan-words, because they used to trade with them! Here's a list of them.

    You have a good head-start in Swahili! :D

    November 12, 2016

    Fantastic, thanks for all your hard work =] Can't wait to get started with Swahili!

    February 20, 2017

    Swahili is a fantastic language! Good luck with your Swahili learning adventure =D

    February 20, 2017

    A great site for improving reading comprehension is Swahili Wikipedia:

    April 30, 2017

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing. What a great compilation.

    February 15, 2018

    Meanwhile this audio course has 110 lessons and is IMHO the best to really learn it ;) I created a public transcript, but it might have errors:

    September 14, 2018

    Learn to write journals, articles and letters in Swahili by watching a students' journey in achieving perfection in his Swahili writing skills.

    The Expert teacher guides the students in real time and puts emphasis on the important structures. Watch clear screen recordings and benefit from the phrases and pronunciations of both the student and the teacher.

    Become an expert in Swahili in no time, copy paste the link to watch the videos :

    October 17, 2018

    Talking about lion king, Learn Swahili the fastest way by watching the students themselves speaking it and hear their clear pronunciation. See the difficulties students go though in learning Swahili with Mwalimu Hamdy and pick up new phrases and vocabulary.

    Please watch the FREE preview lectures to get a glimpse here :


    October 17, 2018

    These are so helpful thank you!

    November 23, 2018

    This is such a detailed and helpful list you have put up here my friend. I do hope that at some point my YouTube channel has enough quality videos to make to this list someday. As a native Swahili speaker from Tanzania , I like sharing this wonderful African language on my channel:

    Asante sana.

    February 12, 2019


    March 28, 2019

    You are an amazing person

    April 18, 2019
    Learn Swahili in just 5 minutes a day. For free.