Drop-in series: Break language barrier with 100 million people by learning Swahili

Inspired by the late Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University where he shared how auditing a calligraphy class in college inspired him years later to add diverse fonts to Apple computers, we set out to visit classes around campus that make us think differently about what it means to be educated. This is one in a series of drop-ins.

It’s never too late to start learning a new language. FIU’s Department of Modern Languages offers introductory classes to a variety of languages, including one that could break the communication barrier between you and about 100 million people worldwide: Swahili.

Taught by professor Zablon Mgonja, a native of Tanzania who grew up speaking the language, the class brings students from the basics of spelling and sentence structure to the intricacies of carrying a conversation in Swahili. It also introduces students to the cultures and histories of countries where Swahili is common.

Swahili is an official language of Tanzania and Kenya, and it is commonly spoken in other African countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Mozambique.

“It is a good language for any person who wants to travel to Africa,” Mgonja said.

Want a sneak peak into Mgonja’s class? In the video above, his students introduce some Swahili sayings to get you started.

Click here for more information on how to enroll in Swahili I (SWA 1130) and Swahili II (SWA 1131).