Five College Swahili

Application review for spring 2021 courses begins November 2.
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Swahili is the lingua franca of east and central Africa. It is widely used in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda and spoken by more than 50 million people. Part of the Bantu family of languages, Swahili has influenced and been influenced by a variety of other languages, including Arabic, Portuguese, and German. 

Swahili is the flagship language of the Five College Mentored Language Program. The program is led by Dr. Agnes Kimokoti, who has taught Swahili in the Five Colleges since 2003, and supported by a post-baccalaureate Fulbright teaching assistant. The 2020-21 Swahili TA is Veronica Ngaiza. 

Swahili program alumni have completed theses related to East Africa, started businesses, joined the U.S. Foreign Service, and gone on to receive CLS, Fulbright, and Boren fellowships.


Spring 2021 Swahili Course Offerings


Swahili is offered through the Mentored Language Program, which uses a combination of regular independent study, one-on-one tutorials, and small group conversation sessions to cover all four primary language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Courses follow a flexible, student-driven scheduling model and take place on all five campuses.

The Swahili course sequence is:

  • Introductory: Levels I, II, III, IV
  • Intermediate: Levels V, VI, VII, VIII
  • Advanced: Multiple courses available, including Development Policy, Health Policy, Human Rights, Senior Research, other special topics

Students can take Swahili as a half course, the equivalent of 2 credits/one level (e.g., Swahili I), or a full course, the equivalent of 4 credits/two levels (e.g., Swahili I-II). All levels are available every semester.

View recent Swahili syllabi.

Half courses

Mentored half courses cover one level of the language. They comprise:

  • One 30-minute individual tutorial per week
  • One 60-minute conversation session per week (individual or small group)
  • 1 hour per day of independent study
  • Weekly homework
  • Final oral evaluation
  • Final writing skills assessment
  • Weekly check-ins with Center staff via self-assessment reports

Credits:

As with all interchange classes, credit varies by campus. For a mentored half course, you will receive the equivalent of: 

  • Amherst: half course
  • Hampshire: half course
  • Mount Holyoke: 2 credits
    In general, Mount Holyoke students cannot use Center language courses to fulfill the their language requirement.
  • Smith: 2 credits
    Smith students must take at least two levels (two half courses or one full course) to receive credit. Completion of four levels satisfies the Latin Honors language requirement.
  • UMass: 2 credits
    For UMass graduate students, courses will appear on student transcript but will not earn credit.

Full courses

Mentored full courses cover two levels of the language. They comprise:

  • One 60-minute individual tutorial per week
  • One 90-minute conversation session per week (individual or small group)
  • 2 hours per day of independent study
  • Weekly homework
  • Midterm and final oral evaluations
  • Midterm and final writing skills assessments
  • Weekly check-ins with Center staff via self-assessment reports

Credits:

As with all interchange classes, credit varies by campus. For a mentored full course, you will receive the equivalent of: 

  • Amherst: two half courses
    Two half courses do not always count as the equivalent of a full course. Consult the Amherst College registrar for more information.
  • Hampshire: full course
  • Mount Holyoke: 4 credits 
    In general, Mount Holyoke students cannot use Center language courses to fulfill the their language requirement.
  • Smith: 4 credits
    Smith students must take at least two levels (two half courses or one full course) to receive credit. Completion of four levels (four half courses or two full courses) satisfies the Latin Honors language requirement.
  • UMass: 4 credits
    For UMass graduate students, courses will appear on student transcript but will not earn credit.

About tutorials

During one-on-one tutorial sessions, you will discuss grammatical questions and get feedback on written homework from your language mentor. Tutorial sessions can be geared to meet your specific language learning needs. 

When possible, students are scheduled for tutorials on their home campus. In some cases, students will have to travel to a different campus. 

About conversation sessions

During a conversation session, you will engage in activities, conversations, and role plays designed by your conversation partner to help you practice the structures and vocabulary you studied in a given week. Your conversation session will have no more than 4 students to allow constant participation and engagement by all. 

Conversation sessions are led by mentors, post-baccalaureate teaching assistants, or other native/fluent speakers who are hired and trained by the Center. Your conversation partner is not a teacher and will not present grammar lessons; rather, their expertise lies in speaking the language.

When possible, students are scheduled for conversation sessions on their home campus. In some cases, students will have to travel to a different campus.