Language Study

African Language Resources at UC Berkeley 

The Center for African Studies, in partnership with the Department of African American Studies and the Berkeley Language Center, works to support the African language learning needs of students and faculty. The program is guided by a leadership team consisting of representatives from the Department, the Center for African Studies, and the Berkeley Language Center. The Department of Linguistics contributes through language documentation, study and research.

UC Berkeley offers Amharic, Igbo, and Kiswahili through African American StudiesArabic is available through the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. We also collaborate with the African Studies Center at UCLA to promote the African languages they offer, e.g., Arabic, Swahili and Yoruba. Students from other UC campuses can enroll in many of the language courses through the UC Online system. Students from other UC campuses, California State Universities, California community colleges and select other local higher education institutions may be eligible to enroll in UC Berkeley courses through various programs. Members of the larger community can enroll through concurrent enrollment via UC Extension. We often offer a weekly Kiswahili Table. Please contact us for further information.

Over the years, our students have also studied Afrikaans, Bamana, Lingala, Malagasy, Shona, Xhosa, Yoruba, and Zulu among other languages. While we are not offering them now, we encourage Berkeley faculty, staff and students to indicate your ability to speak or interest in learning African languages by completing this online survey. There are also options to study these languages in the summer at other Programs and with FLAS fellowships.

Through our Understanding the Horn project curriculum projects, we developed material on Sudanese Arabic, Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Swahili and Tigrinya.

The Department of Linguistics is also deeply committed to the description of under-documented languages through Field Work courses. These courses offer methodological grounding for theoretically-focused projects, insights into varied knowledge systems and research collaboration with communities. Faculty and students have worked with native speakers of African languages, including Abo, Guébie, Kikuyu, Leggbo, Lobi, Luo, Mokpwe, Nzadi, RunyankoreSereer, Tigrinya, and Tswefap. Berkeley's California Language Archives also contains research and documentation on many African languages.

Summer Language Institutes and Programs

African Studies Centers nationwide collaborate to offer a range of summer language study opportunities. The African Studies Association, the African Language Teachers Association and individual universities share the task of administering competitive US Department of Education Title VI Fulbright Group Project Abroad (GPA) Advanced Overseas Intensive Language Projects. Previously, Howard University has offered GPA programs in Kenya for Advanced Swahili and Nigeria for Advanced Yoruba. The University of Pennsylvania has offered one in South Africa for Advanced Zulu. The University of Florida offered several languages through its African Flagship Languages Initiative. A list of other language study options for the coming and previous summers are available at the links below:

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships

The Center for African Studies is not offering Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships for summer 2024. For more information, visit the FLAS fellowship page.

Other African Language Resources