Is Swahili a particularly hard language to learn for an English-speaking person?

August 9, 2008 by  

I know there are a lot of things that someone’s ability to learn a language depends on, but, as a whole, is Swahili fairly straightforward or overly complicated?

Cheers!

The sound system of Swahili is quite easy for an English-speaker to learn. The problem is that the grammar is very different. Where English and the other European languages use suffixes to do all the work, Swahili uses prefixes. It’s a very interesting system, but until you get used to it it will be difficult.

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4 Responses to “Is Swahili a particularly hard language to learn for an English-speaking person?”

  1. Taivo on October 28th, 2007 9:12 am

    The sound system of Swahili is quite easy for an English-speaker to learn. The problem is that the grammar is very different. Where English and the other European languages use suffixes to do all the work, Swahili uses prefixes. It's a very interesting system, but until you get used to it it will be difficult.
    References :
    I am a Linguistics professor

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  2. JOAN C on October 28th, 2007 9:13 am

    Hausa and Yoruba pose similar problems.

    Total immersion is the best way.
    References :

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  3. Capecon on October 28th, 2007 9:28 am

    I speak Swahili and beside that, i have my mother tongue and English. Swahili is a nice language to learn.. it is however a bit difficult to be fluent in it unless you are in a community where Swahili is spoken. The grammar and mastery of Swahili depends with where you are. In East Africa, the Swahili in Tanzania is very fine tuned. In Kenya, people at the coast speak better Swahili due to cultural and historical reasons.

    The complexity of Swahili writing and speaking system has lead to the emergence of "Sheng",, a combination of English, native and Swahili terms and expressions and is therefore not bound by the rules of Swahili grammar. However, Sheng lacks uniformity and is mostly spoken by youth and those in urban setup.

    If you have a friend or if you are in East Africa, it is easy to learn the language and you will have a lot of advantages because Swahili is becoming the Lingua fraca of East and many parts of Central Africa.

    It is easier for someone who speaks arabic to learn swahili because swahili is a combination of terms and words from both the bantu speaking communities of East Africa and Arabic.

    So don't give up. Learn it.
    References :

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  4. Learn Swahili | Free Swahili Course on August 12th, 2008 4:39 pm

    [...] the how hard is Swahili to learn post for an answer to this [...]

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