SOAS University of London

African Languages, Cultures and Literatures Section

Advanced Somali: Language

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 2

During this module the students will develop their ability to read, write, listen to and speak formal standard Somali with greater fluency. Through reading and listening to a variety of texts they will expand their knowledge of Somali grammar, develop further their appreciation and use of different styles and expand their vocabulary in different areas. They will be able to write accurate and fluent Somali on their own and will be able to translate from Somali into English and from English into Somali with accuracy and an awareness of style of language as well as differences in grammatical constructions and usages. They will also develop fluency in speaking on a wide range of topics.

This module is available as an open option. 


Students must be able to display an appropriate level of Somali either through having taken a Somali module to intermediate level (such as Somali 2 at SOAS) or through passing an assessment made by the convenor prior to starting the module.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module students should be able to demonstrate:

  1. Fluent reading of texts in Somali on a variety of topics found in current affairs, areas such as health, environment, culture and prose fiction.
  2. Use dictionaries appropriately (given alternate spellings and the fact that the most extensive dictionaries are monolingual means that this is a skill which needs to be developed);
  3. Write Somali correctly with good use of grammar and appropriate style;
  4. Understand radio and television broadcasts on current issues relating to Somali society generally;
  5. Translate accurately from and into Somali and write original pieces in Somali which are grammatically correct and use an appropriate style.   


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week

Scope and syllabus

Weeks 1-5: In this period the module will concentrate on reading non-fiction texts in different styles.

These will include selections from books and journalistic news pieces on topics such as current affairs, history, the environment, culture and language. The style of these pieces will be considered along with advanced grammatical structures such as the use of pronominal head nouns in certain relative clauses, double focus constructions, the use of pronouns with focus markers etc. Such grammatical issues will continue to be considered throughout the module.

During this period the students will undertake translation exercises to and from Somali with direction from the teacher on which particular grammatical and stylistic aspects to use. They will also write their own compositions on daily topics (food, travel, their studies etc.). The texts will be provided by the convenor with some glosses of difficult terms and grammatical notes, though the students will also be expected at this stage to use both bilingual and monolingual dictionaries when doing their homework and preparing texts for reading.

Weeks 6-10: In the second term, listening skills will be developed through recordings of radio and television broadcasts along with some written texts.

These will be provided by the teacher and, as in the first half of the course, will concentrate on different areas of vocabulary. These will also provide the basis for speaking practice. Students will also be expected to give a short presentation in Somali in the penultimate week of the term on a topic of their choice.

The module will be taught in both Somali and English with a view to developing the listening comprehension and speaking skills of the students.

There is no textbook suitable for this module and materials which will have been prepared in advance by the teacher will be used, this may be material that has been used before but will also include news stories which are current and prepared each year.   

Method of assessment

  • One two-hour written examination (50%) taken in May/June
  • Translation from Somali into English (450 words) to be submitted in Term 2, week 10, day 5 (10%) 
  • Translation from English into Somali (450 words) to be submitted in Term 2, week 10, day 5 (10%)
  • Essay in Somali (450 words) to be submitted in Term 2, week 10, day 5 (10%) 
  • One oral exam (20 minutes) to be arranged by agreement with the module Convenor. 

Suggested reading

The following are dictionaries and grammar books which will be useful. All reading and audio material will be provided during the course as there are no textbooks available which are suitable for this level of study.

  • Abdullahi Omar Mansur & Annarita Puglielli. 1999. Barashada Naxwaha Af Soomaaliga. Lon-don: Haan Associates.
  • Agostini, Francesco, Annarita Puglielli & Ciise Moxamed Siyaad (eds). Dizionario Somalo-Italiano. Rome: Gangemi Editore. 1985.
  • Ahmed Hussein Mire. 2009. Somali-Abwaanary: Advanced English-Somali Dictionary. No place of publication.
  • Puglielli, Annarita & Cabdalla Cumar Mansuur. 2012. Qaamuuska Af-Soomaaliga. Rome: RomaTrE-Press. [This book is freely available as a pdf book at the following URL:
  • AF-SOOMAALIGA[1].pdf
  • Saeed, John. 1993. Somali Reference Grammar. Kensington, Maryland: Dunwoody Press.
  • Saeed, John. 1999. Somali. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Zorc, R. David & Madina M. Osman. 1993. Somali-English Dictionary with English Index (3rd
  • edition). Kensington, Maryland: Dunwoody Press.     


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules