Swahili, with an estimated 90 to over 110 million speakers, is spoken throughout East Africa and parts of Central Africa. It enjoys the status of national and official language in Tanzania, and national language in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Swahili is the lingua franca of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, northern Mozambique and, to a lesser extent, Malawi, Zambia and southern Sudan.
Peinture à l'huile d'animaux : zèbre, girafes, éléphants, etc
Tingatinga art (76x76cm), Oil on canvas © Libre de droits ‎

Discover the language

Swahili, the working language of the African Union, is also the official language of the East African Community, which includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and, since spring 2021, the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is also one of the official languages of SADC, the Southern African Development Community. It features in the publications of major international institutions (UN bodies, various NGOs, etc.). Broadcast on global news channels (RFI, BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Pars Today, Radio China International, Japanese Radio International...) it is, outside its region of origin, taught in many universities around the world and in secondary schools in South Africa.

The literary tradition written in Swahili goes back several centuries (originally in Arabic characters, since the end of the 19th century in Latin characters). The place of Swahili in education in Tanzania and Kenya has led to the emergence of a large number of contemporary authors. Learning Swahili makes it easy to learn other languages of the same family (Bantu) spoken in an area that stretches from Cameroon to South Africa and from Gabon to Kenya.

This language is one of those on offer for the baccalaureate exams (please note that the conditions for registration in rare disciplines have changed for 2019-2020; ask your school for details) and for the competitive exams for Conseiller and Secrétaire Cadre d'Orient of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. But while studying Swahili can lead to diplomatic careers, it is increasingly in demand by people with projects in the humanitarian aid field. And there's nothing to stop you immersing yourself in the language for the "simple" pleasure of discovering a language and culture.

Studying Swahili at Inalco

Inalco is the only establishment in France to offer a complete course (LMD) of Swahili language and literature integrated with a general knowledge of Africa.

Training courses

Licence LLCER parcours Afrique - Océan indien
Licence bisdisciplinaire Swahili - Accès santé avec Université de Paris
Master LLCER parcours Afrique - Océan indien

From the 2nd year of the bachelor's degree, students can also choose the school's professionalizing pathways: International Business, Intercultural Communication and Training, Didactics of World Languages and French as a Foreign Language, International Relations, Automatic Language Processing.

Enriched face-to-face learning

People interested in learning Swahili but unable to attend face-to-face classes (residence abroad, time constraints, etc.), can follow certain courses from the Moodle platform. The documents available in Grammar L1, L2, L3, and Written Practice L1 and L2 will enable you to work with a little interactivity (it has been reduced since the mandatory return to face-to-face). PDFs are available for courses entitled "Aire swahiliphone". For other courses, please ask the teacher.

The placement test

If you have already spent some time in East Africa, or if you have some knowledge of Swahili and would like to enroll directly in the second or even third year, you must take the placement test, which always takes place after the first intake meeting. You will be assessed in written and oral comprehension and expression.
Only one test is offered. There is no "rattrapage" or à la carte evaluation. It always takes place after the back-to-school meeting. If you are unable to make this date, you will automatically be enrolled in the first year.

Other ways to learn Swahili at Inalco
First International Swahili Day

Conference by Rhobi Pristiana Samwelly on November 25, 2022

Affiche conférence Rhobi Samwelly (1.08 MB, .pdf)