Perspectives

Grant Funding Providing Free Summer Swahili Course


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Interested in learning the language that gave us hakuna matata?

This summer, the Ohio University Center for International Studies and the Department of Linguistics will be hosting an intensive elementary Swahili program over the course of four weeks beginning on July 5. The course is a great learning opportunity in a fun environment, and it is being offered tuition-free.

The program is accepting applications until June 1 from undergraduates at any institution as well as high school students from the surrounding school districts. Students who enroll will learn about African economics and culture and take part in three field trips in addition to learning Swahili.

Ohio University received grant funding for the program from STARTALK, a program of the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. The support from STARTALK will cover in-state tuition and fees for 20 students who will attend this summer’s program, along with the costs for books, meals, and three field trips.

Once students complete the summer program and the online work assigned during the fall semester, they will earn college credit for Elementary Swahili I, SWAH 1110, a four credit hour course.

Swahili is the official language of the East African Community, the regional intergovernmental organization of the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Swahili is also spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Somalia. Currently, approximately 100 million people around the world speak Swahili. For anyone interested in traveling to eastern or central Africa, knowing Swahili is invaluable.

Students accepted in the Swahili STARTALK summer program will attend class Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with scheduled snack breaks in the mornings and afternoons and a lunch break around noon. In the mornings, students will learn Swahili vocabulary and grammar; in the afternoons they will learn about African people, society, economics and culture. During lunch, students will spend time with the two program teaching assistants and converse with them in Swahili.

The program will be interactive and all activities are meant to reduce anxiety about speaking Swahili, said Peter Mwangi, who will serve as the primary instructor for the course.

“We want them to have a community of learners learning from each other,” Mwangi said.

The instructors will also be taking students on trips to the Hocking Hills, The Wilds and to visit the Somali and Swahili speaking communities in Columbus as part of the course. Additionally, the instructors will simulate a typical East African open air market.

Another goal of the program is to prepare students to take Elementary Swahili II, SWAH 1120, the following spring. In order to help students retain their knowledge over fall semester Mwangi has planned assignments and assessments that they will need to complete online.

The Swahili program will take place from July 5 to Aug. 5 and applications are due June 1, 2016. For more information on the program and to apply, call 740-593-1840 or log onto www.ohio.edu/global/cis/startalk.cfm.