SOAS University of London

African Languages, Cultures and Literatures Section

Advanced Somali: Language (PG)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
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 further develop fluency in speaking on a wide range of topics.

Available to students on any SOAS masters degree that allows students to take a language module, given the student has the required level of knowledge of Somali


Students must be able to display an appropriate level of Somali either through having taken a Somali course 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

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

  • Fluently read texts in Somali on a variety of topics found in current affairs, areas such as health, environment, culture and prose fiction;
  • 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);
  • Write Somali correctly with good use of grammar and appropriate style;
  • Understand radio and television broadcasts and broadcasts on a variety of current issues relating to Somali society generally;
  • 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 course 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 course. 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 course 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 2 hour exam in May/June (50%)
  • One translation from Somali into English (700 words) to be submitted on day 5, week 10, term 2 (10%)
  • One translation from English into Somali (700 words) to be submitted on day 5, week 10, term 2 (10%)
  • One essay in Somali (700 words) to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 3 (10%)
  • One oral exam (20 minutes) at a time agreed by the Convenor (20%)

Suggested reading

The following are dictionaries and grammar books which will be useful. All reading and audio material will be provided during the module 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