Learning Swahili? Here Are The Books You Must Have

avatarSarah K.
4 mins read
best books to learn Swahili

Are you looking for the best books to learn to speak Swahili?

Swahili is an amazing language to learn and is becoming more and more popular in recent years. It's the spoken across vast areas of Africa including countries like Kenya and Tanzania, and is also heavily influenced by Arabic (though it's not a Semitic language).

Thankfully there are some fantastic resources available for learning Swahili! 😊

So, today I’m going to share with you my favorite books for Swahili (ones I love).

Be sure to let me know if there’s a resource I've missed or something I really should know about so I can update my list.

1. Swahili Grammar and Workbook

Author: Fidèle Mpiranya

All I can say is: wow! 😍

The author, Fidèle Mpiranya, is a professor of Swahili at the University of Chicago and he has done a phenomenal job compiling this resource. It's comprehensive and thorough while at the same time easy to digest for self-study learners.

It covers everything you'd expect in a good Swahili textbook in way that's easy to understand.

I highly recommend Mpiranya's work to any serious student of Swahili.

2. Swahili: A Foundation for Speaking, Reading, and Writing

Author: Thomas J. Hinnebusch

This is another goldmine for Swahili.

Hinnebusch is Professor of Linguistics and African Languages at the University of California. His knowledge of Swahili is mindblowing to say the least.

The best part about this book in my opinion are the exercises which really help you solidify the lesson content.

I would say that any serious Swahili learner should own a copy of this.

3. Simplified Swahili

Author: Peter M. Wilson

As the name suggests, this book does a superb job of simplifying Swahili for the average learner.

It boasts a 3 month fluency period which might be a bit presumptuous on the author's part but the book is accurate and well explained.

If you want a book that's a little "lighter" than the two previous books I mentioned, then this is a good option.

Highly recommend.

4. Swahili Grammar for Introductory and Intermediate Levels: Sarufi ya Kiswahili cha Ngazi ya Kwanza na Kati

Authors: Oswald Almasi, Michael Fallon, Nazish Wared

This book is incredible.

It's easily one of the most comprehensive textbooks for Swahili available to date. You can just tell that an enormous amount of work and research has gone into this Swahili grammar.

It might be a bit much for the average learner just looking for conversational material.

But for a university student or seriously dedicated Swahili learner, this book is absolutely essential for your resource list.

Summary: There are some excellent books for learning Swahili (and other resources too)

I could have added more Swahili books to this list but these are by far the best available.

Swahili is becoming increasingly popular and important in today's world, and many students are becoming more eager to travel to the vast areas of Africa where Swahili is an official language.

If you haven't seen it yet, I also highly recommend the brilliant site called SwahiliPod101.

It's a podcast-style resource for learning Swahili (lots of great audio).

See SwahiliPod101 here.

Which other Swahili resources would you recommend?

Is there a useful book or resource for Swahili that I should add?

Let me know. 😊