SOAS University of London

African Languages, Cultures and Literatures Section

Practical Translation Swahili into English

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 1

This module aims to familiarise students with the process and techniques of reading, analysing and translating from Swahili to English, and to develop their skills to a high level of proficiency. It will provide them with practical experience of translation, the identification and application of appropriate translation strategies, and awareness of different translation styles. Students will be assigned different genres of texts in Swahili to translate into English, and these will be discussed and translated in class. Assignment preparation and active class participation will also help students expand their knowledge of various writing styles, sophisticated grammatical structures, idioms and expressions.



Students must have advanced level of language proficiency in both Swahili and English.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate developed skills in translating from Swahili into English, ensuring that the end product is cohesive, effective, and appropriate to the nature of the source text.
  2. Assess and analyse the nature and features of varieties of source texts, and demonstrate these skills through commentary on their translation choices and strategy.
  3. Assess, discuss and critique translation texts from Swahili into English, pointing out the difficulties and issues that face translators of these texts in terms of specific issues and overall translation strategy.
  4. Students will develop intellectual perspectives on the activity of translation and expand topic-based vocabulary.
  5. By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate ability in handling texts, including literary, religious, academic, political, journalistic and biographical texts with confidence.


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with a 2 x 1 hour lectures in total.  There will be 18 hours of practical classes and workshops over the teaching term bringing the total contact hours for this module to 20.

Scope and syllabus

There is no set syllabus for this module, but texts will cover a core range of genres and text styles (academic, political, commercial, social media, technical, journalistic, religious texts, literary texts and non-fiction). It will include ongoing discussion of the process and techniques of translation, from Swahili to English, close examination of the nature and features of different genres and varieties of texts, and exploration of the relevant translation strategies to adopt with them, both in class and during independent study. The module also involves the application of translation theory to texts, and critique and assessment of pre-existing translations.The order and levels of the text types studied will be flexible and tailored to the needs of the students.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (50%); a translation and commentary of 3,500 words to be submitted on Day 2, week 1, term 3 (50%).

Suggested reading

  • Venuti, Lawrence ed. 2000. The Translation Studies Reader, London: Routledge,.
  • Munday, Jeremy. 2008. Introducing Translation Studies, London and New York, Routledge.
  • Mazrui, Al Amin, 2016. Cultural Politics of Translation: East Africa in a Global Context, London and New York: Routledge Advances in Translation Studies.
  • Bassnet, Susan 2002, Translation Studies, London: Routledge.
  • Bi-and Mono-lingual Dictionary, such as TUKI, Oxford or similar other.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules