SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Zulu 1

Module Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year
Provide a through introduction to Zulu with emphasis on practical spoken Zulu. The course covers basic grammar and essential vocabulary and at the end of the course students will be able to talk about a variety of topics in a number of day-to-day situations. This course will be taught two evenings a week during term time, and with an intensive week in the third term before the exams.



Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  1. knowledge and understanding of basic Zulu grammar
  2. knowledge and understanding of essential Zulu vocabulary
  3. knowledge and understanding of the appropriateness of basic Zulu structures and expressions in a given context
  4. the ability to understand short passages in written Zulu on everyday topics
  5. the ability to produce short passages in written Zulu on everyday topics
  6. the ability to understand spoken Zulu and to engage in short spoken discourse on everyday topics


4 hours classroom contact per week (including 1 hour per week conversation) plus 1 intensive week in the 3rd term.

Scope and syllabus

The course provides an introduction to Zulu language with emphasis on practical written and spoken Zulu. The course covers phonetics and phonology (including click consonants), verbal morphology and noun classes, and basic tense-aspect-mood and polarity distinctions. Communicative practice is established through learning language around dialogues dealing with a range of everyday situations, including travelling, buying and selling, and urban and rural family life.

The course provides students with a basic knowledge of Zulu and practice of using Zulu in a variety of everyday situations. It allows students to interact with Zulu speakers in Zulu and to use original Zulu language sources within the level covered in the course. This provides students with a basis to approach research topics relating to Zulu language and the histories, societies and cultures associated with Zulu.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination (60%), an oral exam (30%) taken in May/June and coursework (10%).

Suggested reading

1) The course will be based on

Mostert, Carola, Zulu 1 Course Materials, London, SOAS

and additional materials which will be made available throughout the course.

2) Additional Zulu References

Zulu Learning Resources
Speak Zulu with Us (Beginners). CD Rom. African Voices, Diep River.
Speak Zulu with Us (Advanced). CD Rom. African Voices, Diep River.
Nxumalo, Thandiwe and Samuel D. Cioran. 1996. Funda IsiZulu! – Learn Zulu!: An Introduction to Zulu. Hamilton, Ontario: WXY Media for Juta Academic Publishing.
Townshend, J.B., 1993, Phezulu: Practical, Handy, Easy Zulu: A Beginner’s course 3rd ed., Pietermaritzburg etc.: Shuter & Shooter.
Wilkes, Arnett and Nicholias Nkosi. 1995. Teach Yourself Zulu. London: Hodder Headline.
C M Doke, D M Malcolm, J M A Sikakana, B W Vilakazi, 1996, English-Zulu/Zulu-English Dictionary, Witwatersrand University Press. (ISBN: 1868141608)

Linguistic Studies
Canoninci, Noveroni N. 1990. The Zulu Folktale Durban: Zulu Language and Literature, University of Natal.
Canoninci, Noveroni N. 1995. Zulu Grammatical Structure. Durban: Zulu Language and Literature, University of Natal.
Doke, Clement. 1931. Text-book of Zulu grammar. London : Longmans.
Doke, Clement. 1954. The Southern Bantu languages. London : OUP.
Hlongwane, J. B., ed. 1998. Some issues in African linguistics : Festschrift for A.C. Nkabinde. Pretoria : J.L. van Schaik.
Nkabinde, A. C., ed. 1988. Anthology of articles on African linguistics and literature : a Festschrift to C.L.S. Nyembezi. Johannesburg : Lexicon.
Poulos, George. 1982. Issues in Zulu relativization. Grahamstown : Dept. of African Languages, Rhodes University.
Poulos, George and Sonja E. Bosch. 1997. Zulu. München; Newcastle: LINCOM Europa.
Poulos, George and Christian T. Msimang. 1998. A linguistic analysis of Zulu. Pretoria : Via Afrika.
Taljaard, P. C. and Sonja E. Bosch. 1988. Handbook of isiZulu. Pretoria : J.L. Van Schaik.

Texts and critical editions
Gunner, Liz and Mafika Gwala, eds. 1991, Musho: Zulu Popular Praises. East Lansing: Michigan State University. (Zulu and English texts)
Koopman, Adrian, 2002, Zulu Names, Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press.
Masondo, M. M. 1998. One-act plays : a collection of one-act stage, radio and TV plays. Pretoria : Academica. (translated from Zulu)
Rycroft, D.K. and A.B. Ngcobo, eds., 1988, The Praises of Dingane. Izibongo zikaDingane, Durban: Killie Campbell Africana Library.
Schlosser, Katesa, ed. 1997. Zulu mythology / as written and illustrated by the Zulu prophet Laduma Madela. [translated by Vincent Zanoxolo Gitywa]. Kiel : Schmidt & Klaunig. (English and Zulu text)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules