African and Caribbean Languages at the Center

word cloud in shades of red and yellow showing names of African languages

Africa is home to approximately 1/3 of the world's languages, with more than 1,000 languages spoken on the continent, of which at least 75 languages have more than 1 million speakers. The Five College Center for World Languages offers instruction in a range of African Languages.


Swahili is the lingua franca of east and central Africa, widely used in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda and spoken by more than 50 million people. It belongs to the Bantu family of languages and has influenced and been influenced by a variety of other languages, including Arabic, Portuguese, and German.

The Center's Swahili courses are taught in our Mentored Language Program and feature: 

  • Weekly one-on-one tutorials with Dr. Agnes Kimokoti
  • Weekly small group conversation sessions with Dr. Kimokoti or a post-baccalaureate Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant
  • Flexible scheduling around your existing classes and commitments

Learn more about the Center's Swahili program.


Afrikaans is a West Germanic language related to Dutch that is spoken primarily in South Africa and Namibia, with about 9 million speakers. It is of particular relevance to anyone interested in the history of Apartheid. 

West African Dance students smile and raise their hands during a performance at the African Studies Community Dinner.

Afrikaans is offered through the Center's Supervised Independent Language Program


The origins of the Amharic language can be traced back to the 1st millennium B.C. Today it is spoken by more than 17 million people and is one of Ethiopia's major languages. 

Amharic is offered through the Center's Supervised Independent Language Program

Arabic dialects

Egyptian Arabic and Moroccan Arabic are offered through the Center's Spoken Arabic Program.

Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole is the world's most spoken creole language with about 12 million speakers worldwide. It is also widely spoken by Haitian communities in Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. In the United States, there are large communities of Haitian Creole speakers in Miami, Orlando, New York, and Boston.

Haitian Creole is offered through the Center's Supervised Independent Language Program

Statues at Kwame Nkrumah Park, Accra, Ghana.


Twi is widely spoken in Ghana. It is part of the Kwa subdivision of the NigerCongo group of African languages. Twi is relevant for students of anthropology, linguistics, and folklore.

Twi is offered through the Center's Supervised Independent Language Program


Wolof is the most widely spoken of Senegal's six national languages, and is an important language for local trade and arts. It is also spoken in the Gambia and Mauritania.

Wolof is offered through the Center's Supervised Independent Language Program


Yoruba is spoken by more than 30 million people in West Africa in Nigeria, Togo, Benin, and Sierra Leone.

Yoruba is offered through the Center's Supervised Independent Language Program

The Fisherman Mosque in Dakar, Senegal.

Other African and Caribbean languages

The Center is sometimes able to offer instruction in other languages such as Igbo, Shona, Xhosa, and Zulu. If you are interested in these or other languages not listed here, please contact the Center. 

For more information about African languages, including textbooks and teaching and learning resources, visit the website of the National African Language Resource Center (Indiana University).