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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:

http://www.bu.edu/200word/ - Site with 200 words pronounced by native speakers in 8 different languages; Xhosa, Zulu, Amharic, Wolof, Hausa, Swahili, Igbo, and Akan Twi.

http://forvo.com/languages/sw/ - Forvo.com is a great website to hear native speakers of a language upload pronunciations of words in many different languages!

Youtube videos and channels:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_9QfBSbw8g - 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

https://www.youtube.com/user/SwahiliPod101/ - SwahiliPod101 has a website as well. SwahiliPod101 has short and informative videos that teach you Swahili.

https://www.youtube.com/user/kulmansam/ - Teaches Swahili in his lessons, can elaborate on topics regarding Swahili and teaches a variety of topics; his website

https://www.youtube.com/user/FCLangMedia/playlists - There is a Swahili playlist on this channel with 50+ videos, mainly focused on grammar.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPDzF0B97OtG-KPdCiw1IGSMlV4F4r9Iy - Playlist for Swahili stories in Swahili with subtitles.

Songs in Swahili

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_7fy-UiHfM - Yemi Alade - Na Gode; lyrics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsINANZ6Riw - Baba Yetu (The Lord's Prayer in Swahili)-Alex Boyé, BYU Men's Chorus & Philharmonic; Christopher Tin; lyrics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLs4Tex0U1U - Sauti Sol and Alikiba - Unconditionally Bae; lyrics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFu2wjQMM0Q - Diamond Platnumz - Ntampata Wapi; lyrics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hUhYzjhusE - Kenyan National Anthem Acapella; lyrics in the description box of the video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7NtkwfAAuY - Tanzanian National Anthem; lyrics in the description box of the video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRRyAEddO6E - The Jambo Bwana song, a catchy song to help you memorize some basic introductions and phrases in Swahili. (lyrics included in the video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSk_M7d_OWM - Diamond Platnumz - Utanipenda, English lyrics in video, Swahili lyrics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojvz49lSfM4 - Sauti Sol - Kuliko Jana; lyrics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCh58peMl98=youtu.be=2m47s - Miriam Makeba - Malaika, classic song from 1974; lyrics in both Swahili and English are included in the video

Swahili-English dictionaries:




Books and courses:

https://www.academia.edu/5595221/Colloquial_Swahili - Colloquial Swahili book

https://www2.ku.edu/~kiswahili/ - University of Kansas course on Swahili, very good site.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/23281558/Teach-Yourself-Swahili - Teach yourself Swahili, basic course

https://www.scribd.com/doc/38298467/Introduction-to-Swahili - Intro to Swahili, another basic Swahili course

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Swahili - VERY incomplete wikibooks guide, very basic info on Swahili.

http://learn101.org/swahili.php - Swahili course with audio (audio is loud, turn down volume)

http://www.pbs.org/wonders/Episodes/Epi2/2_cult1a.htm - PBS Swahili basic words and phrases

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED455681.pdf Another more extensive Swahili course, PDF file

http://www.glcom.com/hassan/lessons/useful_swahili_words.html Basic swahili vocab

http://www.africa.uga.edu/Kiswahili/doe/ - Swahili pronunciation and grammar

http://www.languagetransfer.org/complete-swahili - Language transfer has 21 lessons on soundcloud teaching you Swahili

Major language learning sites with Swahili courses

https://www.duolingo.com/course/sw/en/Learn-Swahili-Online - Duolingo Swahili course(duh!))

https://www.italki.com/teachers - 3 Swahili teachers on there, Skype needed to talk with teachers from Kenya and Tanzania

http://www.memrise.com/courses/english/swahili/ - Swahili memrise courses, memrise helps with memorizing vocabulary

http://www.pimsleur.com/learn-swahili?term=Swahili - 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


http://www.jamiiforums.com/ - Swahili forum, pretty active

http://www.verbix.com/languages/swahili.shtml - Swahili verb conjugation, enter the verb without the ku- infinitive

http://www.openlanguages.net/swahili - Old website with basic Swahili vocab, some links are broken/blank

http://www.masai-mara.com/mmsw.htm - Basic Swahili phrasebook

http://www.worldlanguage.com/Products/Swahili/Dictionary/Page1.htm - PAID; Website to buy Swahili books

News(Habari), Podcasts, and Radio

http://radiouganda.net/ - Ugandan radio stations

http://tunein.com/radio/Radio-One-897-s6419/ - Tanzanian radio in Swahili

http://www.kenyamoja.com/radio/ - Swahili and English Kenyan radio stations, you can tell which language it is in by seeing the words on the logos

http://www.bbc.com/swahili - BBC in Swahili

http://www.ippmedia.com/ - Tanzania based news website

http://www.voaswahili.com/programindex.html - Swahili podcast

http://sw.rfi.fr/ - Swahili news site

http://www.dw.com/sw/idhaa-ya-kiswahili/s-11588 - 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.


Thank you!! Added!


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): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_characters_in_The_Lion_King


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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


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


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


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


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


This is great! Thanks!


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: http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Swahili If you were able to find the time to add your resources there, you'd provide a really useful resource for future Swahili learners.


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


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.

[deactivated user]

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




    I created a Youtube channel to learn Swahili with songs : https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC1ggxdKkUjxrL7YyHxLsikA

    I translated the east african anthem anthem and other songs in english !


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


    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


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


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


    A great site for improving reading comprehension is Swahili Wikipedia:


    Amazing! Thanks for sharing. What a great compilation.


    Meanwhile this audio course has 110 lessons and is IMHO the best to really learn it ;) http://www.languagetransfer.org/complete-swahili I created a public transcript, but it might have errors: http://tinyurl.com/suaheli


    These are so helpful thank you!


    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: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClQnOffT0NAXjXI9Y2hUkCw/videos

    Asante sana.


    You are an amazing person


    This is amazing, thank you.


    Thank you so much!


    Awesome. LOVE the national anthem.


    Is there a Duolingo wordlist?


    The 'Teach Yourself' series of language books also includes some for Swahili learners:


    'Glossika' also offers Swahili:



    Asante sana mwalimu!

    Learn Swahili in just 5 minutes a day. For free.