African Languages Fall 2021

African Language Instructors

Four African Languages - Arabic, Amharic, Igbo and Swahili - taught at UC Berkeley Fall 2021.

Register for African Language Courses Fall 2021

Arabic     Amharic     Igbo     Swahili

More about UC Berkeley's African language program is here.

In the Department of African American Studies

*Amharic and Igbo are funded by a US Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center grant administered by the Center for African Studies

UC students at other campus can enroll in UC Berkeley's Elementary Swahili via UCOP CrossCampus Enrollment. UCLA is offering Elementary Swahili and Yoruba through the same enrollment platform. UC students should consult with their academic advisors on whether these courses fulfill major, college and university requirements.

In the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

Non-Berkeley Student?

Students from other UC campuses, California State Universities, California community colleges and select other higher education institutions can enroll in Berkeley courses under certain circumstances. For more information visit:

Why study African Languages?


  1. Swahili has over 140 million speakers in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Comoro Islands, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Northern Zambia.
  2. Swahili is the official and national language of Kenya and Tanzania, an official language of the African Union, and is becoming the 4th official working language of the Southern African Development Community.
  3. You will be able to understand the meaning of Swahili phrases in movies such as Black Panther and Lion King.
  4. Swahili and Arabic are the only African languages designated by the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense as a critical need foreign language.
  5. You will have an opportunity to learn a language and culture different from your own and engage positively with people from the Swahili speaking region.
  6. It gives you many opportunities to work in Non-Governmental Organizations and with diplomatic missions in Africa.
  7. It is the easiest African language to learn, with the same alphabet as English and no tonal features.
  8. Learning Swahili language enriches your mental faculties and widens your worldview.
  9. Swahili is the most widely taught African language in the U.S., Europe and Asia. It is estimated that about 100 universities in the U.S. offer Swahili courses.
  10. It is fun doing research or being on a safari around Mt Kilimanjaro and similar places and being able to interact with locals with minimal or no difficulties.
  • "Learning Swahili is an incredible opportunity! The class atmosphere is open, fun, and energetic."- Shannon, '14
  • "With Swahili, you're not only learning a means of communication, but a culture and a way of being. " - Esosa, '16
  • "Swahili is so different from other languages I've studied which makes learning and speaking it really fun both inside and outside the classroom" - Alicia, '18


Download a UC Berkeley Swahili Program Brochure.