KiSwahili - Kansas State Colegian adds 2 upper-level Swahili courses

Quoting the news 'as is' from the K-State website ( ):
Students looking to fulfill foreign language credits or who are interested in attaining an unusual minor now have a new option: Swahili.

In the spring and fall 2010 semesters, K-State will offer two new advanced courses in Swahili — Swahili III in the spring and Swahili IV in the fall. These courses are in addition to the two beginning courses already offered through the department of modern languages.

Robert Corum, professor and head of the department, said the new courses have been established in conjunction with the African Studies center.

“If we’re going to be an international university, we need to offer a wide variety of experiences and languages,” Corum said. “The addition of Swahili III and IV ... will prepare students for a more enriched experience studying abroad. It will also serve to be a good springboard for anyone planning on going to Africa.”

The Swahili language is to Africa what the English language is to America, he said. More than 150 million people speak the language in east and central Africa.

“Swahili is the lingua franca,” said Geofred Osoro, K-State’s newly appointed Swahili instructor. “In other words, [it’s] the language of communication between countries and communities. There are many different languages in Africa, but everywhere you go, most likely the people will know Swahili.”

Because of this, Osoro, who spent his entire adolescent life in Africa before coming to the United States, said those who can speak the language will have greater ease in touring, exploring and researching in the country. Those who might benefit most from these courses, he said, are students planning to study abroad in Africa as well as students who need foreign credits to graduate with a bachelor of arts degree.

Swahili, while very different from the English language, does share some similarities, Osoro said.

“In Swahili, one word has many different meanings and is applicable to many things depending on context,” he said, much like the English language. “This makes it a challenge to students because one day this word means something, and the next day, it means something else.”

Swahili and English also use the same alphabet, Osoro said, which is at least one less worry when studying the language. The vowels, I, A, E, O and U, are the same in lettering, but always sound the same in Swahili, contrary to English.

“Think about toy and tool,” Osoro said. “In Swahili, it always stays the same, the ‘O’ sound. In English, it does not. And I promise you, Swahili is much easier to learn than English.”

Swahili I and II courses are currently available. Enrollment for Swahili III will start in the spring, and IV will be offered next fall.