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Hujambo (How are you?)

Nenda Bluu! (Go Blue!)

African Languages at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Welcome to the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS).  Currently the department, in collaboration with the African Studies Center (ASC) is offering Swahili (Kiswahili) and Yoruba languages.  We are always very excited and are proud to see how our students learn these languages fast.  If you are looking for a language that introduces you to a new culture, you probably found the right place.  We are here to help you achieve your goals and success.  Yoruba and Swahili languages will fulfill the LSA College’s Language requirements.  The University requires a student to complete a total of 4 semesters of a foreign language.  Four semesters are the equivalent of taking 4 language courses by the end of language study.  Visit LSA and DAAS for more details.

Heritage students or any students with prior skills in Yoruba or Swahili languages, will need to contact via email, an instructor of one language they are proficient in.  The instructor will discuss with the students and determine an appropriate placement of such students. 

Swahili (Kiswahili) Language

Kiswahili is one of the most widely spoken African languages in Africa as well as worldwide.  Swahili language is also known as Kiswahili. This wide adoption makes Kiswahili one of the major languages of the African continent.  It is used in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Comoro islands, etc.  The African Union (AU) designated Swahili as one of the official languages of the Union.  Recently in Paris, in November 2021, the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during its 41st member states’ session declared July 7th of every year a Swahili language Day.  This is one of the efforts to recognize and honor the language for its fast growth.  It is said to be one of the top 10 languages that grow fast.  For more details, check it out here.

Additionally, in the diaspora, Swahili is one of the most prominent African languages that is used to express African heritage.  For example, KWANZA festival in the US uses some symbols and words that represent African heritage and culture.   One cannot account for the language’s spread without mentioning for example Voice of America (VOA), B.B.C Swahili, Deutsche Welle Swahili, and other  global channels that broadcast information in Swahili via live Radio, TV, and online channels.  

Why Learn Swahili Language at UM?

University of Michigan is one of many American Universities and colleges that teach Swahili language.  Our students benefit from learning it by fulfilling LSA’s language requirement, by using it in research, meeting new people and making friends, obtaining jobs that require a foreign language - particularly an African one within the US, in East Africa, and all over the world with various organizations.   Our  Swahili or Kiswahili program is particularly strong and engages students in Swahili-speaking culture through rich multimedia resources.  Do you want to learn Kiswahili?  A good place to start is right here. 

Our Swahili program will help you to expand your knowledge of a new language, culture, geography, and of course the welcoming and loving people of East Africa.   Swahili people in East Africa and elsewhere are always impressed to meet new people who learn Kiswahili language.   Our Swahili program maintains a reputation for its quality language and orientation about people of East Africa, and has helped to prepare hundreds of students for life and work throughout countries in Eastern Africa.  Furthermore, at UM we have a Study abroad program through which our students travel to East African countries to gain a first hand experience.  Finally, it is important to mention that the highest mountain in Africa (Kilimanjaro), the famous Ngorongoro and Serengeti national parks, etc are all in East Africa (Tanzania) where Swahili is spoken. 

Swahili (Kiswahili) Courses Offered in DAAS During Fall Semester

  • AAS 115/515: Elementary Swahili I (4 credits)
  • AAS 215/525: Intermediate Swahili I (4 credits)
  • AAS 315/535: Advanced Swahili I (3 credits)

Swahili (Kiswahili) Courses Offered in DAAS During Winter Semester

  • AAS 116/516: Elementary Swahili II (4 credits)
  • AAS 216/526: Intermediate Swahili II (4 credits)
  • AAS 316/536: Advanced Swahili II (3 credits)

Learning Swahili Outside the Classroom

Besides classroom instruction, students have a Swahili club on campus.  Students from all Swahili classes join and meet voluntarily during agreeable time for everyone.  There are also various study abroad opportunities in East Africa.  Students have been to Tanzania and Uganda in the past.  There is also a collaboration opportunity virtually between our Swahili students at UM and native Swahili speakers in colleges and universities in East Africa. 

East African Travel Experience from Visitors’ View

Our Current Swahili Language Instructors


Magdalyne Akiding

Education: Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics (Second Language Studies) from Michigan State University, M.A. Applied Linguistics (Second Language Teaching) from Ohio University, and Bachelor’s in Education (Arts - English and Literature) from Pwani University, Kenya.

Office: 505 S. State St., 4749 Haven Hall, 4th Floor


A native speaker of Swahili and Ateso languages from Kenya, Magdalyne received her education in Kenya and in the United States. She has experience of teaching Swahili as a foreign language to college students in the US and has taught in a variety of contexts including intensive summer language programs both domestic, in the US, and abroad, in Kenya. Magdalyne started her position at the University of Michigan in Fall 2022 as a lecturer of Swahili and the Coordinator of African Languages. She currently teaches intermediate Swahili courses during fall and winter semesters and a seminar on introduction to East African culture in the winter semester. Besides teaching, Magdalyne conducts research on learner motivation in African language classrooms in the US with the goal to promote quality instruction of African languages. She is also interested in running a summer study abroad program to Kenya with UM students in the near future.


Marko Mwipopo

Education: Ph.D in Education (Bilingual Education & Literacy),  M.A. Linguistics (Language Teaching Specialization) both from the University of Oregon (UO), and B.A. With Education (Linguistics) from the University of Dar Es Salaam. 

Office:  505 State St., 5511-B Haven Hall, 5th Floor


A native speaker of Swahili and Hehe languages from Tanzania, Marko received his education in Tanzania and in the United States.  He has extensive experience of teaching in both Tanzanian high schools, as well as high school and college Swahili programs in the US. He teaches Swahili courses during fall and winter semesters. During summer, he teaches Academic Skills for Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP) in the LSA.  Besides teaching, he translates and interpretes written and spoken texts, between Swahili and English languages. Join our program to experience a first hand conversation in Swahili.