Ohio University

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Published: April 24, 2019 Author: the Office of Global Affairs

Ohio University students, along with local high school and college students, have the opportunity to learn Swahili this summer in an innovative program that is tuition-free.

The Swahili STARTALK program, which is hosted by the Center for International Studies, is designed for students with little or no background in Swahili. Students in the four-week program will gain the skills needed to listen, speak, read and write in Swahili. They will also have the opportunity to explore Swahili culture through food, East African clothing, music and dance.

Interactive classroom discussions will take place on Mondays through Thursdays, and then students will take part in instructional field trips on Fridays. Students have the opportunity to take elementary or intermediate Swahili courses. Both courses are offered tuition-free and can earn students up to four hours of college credit.

This summer’s program begins on July 8 and continues through August 2. The program is now accepting applications from Ohio University undergraduates, as well as undergraduate students from other institutions and high school students from the surrounding school districts. The priority registration date for the Summer 2019 program is May 15.

Swahili is the official language of the African Union, Africa’s continental body, the East African Community, the regional intergovernmental organization of the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania. Swahili is also spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Somalia. Currently, there are approximately 100 million people around the world who speak Swahili. For anyone interested in traveling to eastern or central Africa, knowing Swahili would be invaluable.  

Ohio University received grant funding for the program from STARTALK, a federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. The support from STARTALK will cover in-state tuition and fees for up to 17 students who will attend this summer’s program, along with the costs for books, meals and all excursions.

STARTALK, whose slogan is “start talking,” is an organization that seeks to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning, speaking and teaching critical need foreign languages. For more information on the program and how to apply, please visit the Swahili STARTALK website or send an email to startalk@ohio.edu.