Is Swahili hard to learn?

October 20, 2008 by  


Swahili is probably the easiest African language for an English speaker to learn. There are three reasons for this. First, the sound system of Swahili is very close to the sound system of English. There are no non-English sounds in Swahili and only one sound that occurs at the beginning of a word in Swahili that can only occur at the end of a syllable in English. Second, Swahili is one of the few subsaharan African languages that have no tone. Since English has no tone, it means there's something you don't have to learn. Third, Swahili morphology is syllable-based without a lot of morphophonemic processes between syllables. Thus the prefixes and suffixes are easy to see and hear. This is not to say that Swahili is easy to learn, and the person who said his mother learned it in a week is, well, not correct. Swahili has many grammatical structures that are foreign to English grammar. It takes time and effort to learn any second language, but if you want to learn an African language and your native language is English, Swahili is your best choice.

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6 Responses to “Is Swahili hard to learn?”

  1. captain redbeard on October 20th, 2008 11:47 am

    Not If Your Swahili
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  2. Farah on October 20th, 2008 12:04 pm

    swahili??.. never heard about it
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  3. sweettastynjuicy on October 20th, 2008 12:21 pm

    no its not that hard
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  4. Runeman on October 20th, 2008 12:42 pm

    My mom learned it in one week its not that hard i even know one its Jambo. its hello
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  5. parable on October 20th, 2008 1:03 pm

    it depends upon yr mother tongue, say if u are an arab, you will have no problem, Yes! imeant it…say Sukar arabic, in swahili just put ri at last…i.e sukari!! see…bzarr… just bizari..but dont make mistake like a friend of mine egyptian…i ask what Laham in english he said Lahmetos, ooops!!
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  6. Taivo on October 20th, 2008 1:25 pm

    Swahili is probably the easiest African language for an English speaker to learn. There are three reasons for this. First, the sound system of Swahili is very close to the sound system of English. There are no non-English sounds in Swahili and only one sound that occurs at the beginning of a word in Swahili that can only occur at the end of a syllable in English. Second, Swahili is one of the few subsaharan African languages that have no tone. Since English has no tone, it means there's something you don't have to learn. Third, Swahili morphology is syllable-based without a lot of morphophonemic processes between syllables. Thus the prefixes and suffixes are easy to see and hear. This is not to say that Swahili is easy to learn, and the person who said his mother learned it in a week is, well, not correct. Swahili has many grammatical structures that are foreign to English grammar. It takes time and effort to learn any second language, but if you want to learn an African language and your native language is English, Swahili is your best choice.
    References :
    I have a PhD in Linguistics and teach Languages of the World at a major US university

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