Wolof Language, People and Culture
As a West-Atlantic language mainly spoken in Senegal and Gambia, Wolof is also used in the Southern part of Mauritania. Nowadays, migration, business, and trade have broadened the horizons of the language to some parts of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali. Despite the Senegalese ethnic diversity- Pël, Sereer, Mandinka, Joola …, Wolof dominates as the lingua franca and remains a growing means of communication for different peoples of the above named West African countries. Unlike many other African languages, Wolof is not a tonal language. Although it has a long tradition of writing using the Arabic script known as Ajami or Wolofal, it has also been adapted to Roman script. Wolof language and culture has had the most observable impact throughout the Senegambia region. While only about 40% of the Senegalese population are Wolof, more than 80% of the people speak the language as either their first, second or third language. The extent of Wolof influence can be observed, to one degree or another, across the religious, economic, political, and social spheres and has been used as an effective medium of communication via radio and television broadcasts. The Wolof language varies slightly from St. Louis to Dakar; however the various dialects are mutually understandable across rural and urban divides and country boundaries. Wolof is not a static language and the dialect spoken primarily by the youth in urban areas has been noted for its adaptation and infusion with French, English and Arabic.
Undergraduate and Graduate courses are offered in Wolof at both the Elementary and Intermediate levels. Students enrolled in Wolof language are introduced to Wolof greetings, vocabulary, grammar, literature, culture, and tradition with an emphasis on building strong Wolof skills through communicative language teaching activities. Additionally, students are introduced to Wolof culture through various interactive classroom activities, discussions, films, and dramatizations.
Elementary Level: (WOL 1110, 1120, 5110, 5120)
Undergraduates enroll for 4 credits but graduate students may enroll between 3 to 5 credits. Additional workload is assigned to graduate students who choose to take more than 4 credits. The first year introduces learners to the geography of the Wolof speaking area, society, and culture with an emphasis on some essential elements of Wolof linguistic and communicational competences. This course is especially appropriate for students planning to travel to Senegal.
Intermediate Level: (WOL 2110, 2120, 5210, 5220)
Intermediate Wolof has the prerequisite of elementary Wolof level. Learners at this level are exposed to more developed Wolof language structures (aiming the acquisition of higher linguistic, lexical, aural, and oral skills) through a progressive and practical study of cultural and literary themes. The intermediate level focuses on culturally contextualizing Wolof grammatical and communicative skills, hence the course's emphasis on advanced Wolof speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.
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