[skip to content]

Swahili at SOAS Language Centre

Swahili belongs to the Bantu family of languages spoken throughout east, central and southern Africa. It has absorbed words from non-Bantu languages such as Arabic, Persian, Portuguese and English. Swahili is known by its speakers as Kiswahili and is spoken by approximately 80 million people in several states of East Africa, chiefly in Tanzania, Kenya, eastern Congo (DRC), and in the Comoro Islands.

Swahili is also widely spoken in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, and is a national and official language in Tanzania and Kenya which means that it is used as a language of correspondence in government and commerce alongside English. The language also has a significant presence in major cities of Europe and the United States where African Diaspora communities are found, and in the Gulf states such as Oman.

SOASĀ Language Centre in London runs a number of Swahili courses: