Why learn Swahili and how easy is Swahili?

31 Oct 2022

Learning Swahili will unlock opportunities: you will be able to travel through over a dozen countries, make friends across East Africa, enjoy TV shows and read books in their original language.

With over 100 million speakers, Swahili is spoken by more people than Italian, German, and Korean. It boasts not only a fascinating past but also a linguistic beauty. You’ll overhear it spoken in major cities such as Dar es-Salam or Nairobi, and you can read epic poetry in it – and you’re in for a treat when you do, because we think it sounds beautiful.

Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, has been a lingua franca on the East African coast for over 1,000 years. As Arab traders and African city-states mingled, a new identity and language emerged: one that was Bantu, but with heavy Arabic influences. The word “Swahili” comes from the Arabic word meaning “of the coast”.


One study found that it takes an English speaker around 900 hours to learn Swahili. That makes it quicker and easier to pick up than Hindi, Polish, or Arabic, although slightly harder than German and quite a bit harder than most Latin languages.
However, learning a new language is always all about psychology. If you’re convinced that Swahili is too difficult or boring, then learning Swahili will be hard. But if you’re having fun and celebrating your accomplishments, Swahili can be easier that you can imagine.

Of course, “as hard” is relative. There will always be challenging aspects. For example, Swahili grammar is different from English. The 18 noun classes can be tough to wrap your head around at first.

Some new learners often describe Swahili as a logical language. If you’re an analytical person who likes recognizing patterns, you might find learning the grammar quite satisfying. In other hand, the pronunciation is fairly straightforward. And, unlike Asian and Middle Eastern languages, you won’t need to learn a new script.

In this blog post we want to keep you motivated with some apps and websites to look at how to learn Swahili, without getting stressed out, demotivated, or overwhelmed.

Here you have a list:


  •  Online Swahili grammar and exercises

Most courses and textbooks will teach you grammar, but sometimes, you need to spend a bit more time on verb conjugation or syntax.

Verbix will help you double check your verb conjugation, providing you know the infinitive, and sometimes it will even show you example sentences.

You’ll find lots of blog posts breaking down Swahili grammar on 2Seeds Swahili. There are also worksheets and answer sheets to help you practice the new material.

  • Youtube lessons:

Learn Swahili Easily has a fair number of vocabulary-based lessons for beginners. The instruction is clear, and most videos are around one to two minutes long.

Easy Swahili will teach you basic Swahili phrases. They don’t have many videos, but each one is short and sweet and with clear audio. They also include some Swahili slang.

  • Swahili movies:

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than spending a rainy Sunday evening watching a movie and drinking tea. Put your language skills to the test by picking one that’s in Swahili. It will help you practice your listening, pick up new vocabulary, and learn natural phrases.

With the app Swahiliflix, you can watch a variety of Swahili movies, no matter where you are. Cpst plans from $8.99/month.

  • Swahili Apps

Drops is app pairs eye-catching graphics and game-like activities to give you a one-of-a-kind experience. 

In just five minutes, you’ll discover new words and phrases through its interactive learning interface. It’s also got high-quality audio to accompany its lessons! All in all, it’s a pretty good add-on to other Swahili apps and resources. Teaches 2,000+ Swahili words and phrases and audio recorded by native speakers. Drops is free for 5 minutes a day. For unlimited playtime, you must subscribe to the Pro version. 

If you’re low on content, then have a look at Memrise's community-generated courses.

Whether it’s vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation. Featuring a wide array of word lists, media files, and games, it’s about as good as any supplementary resource and made for different levels of learning
Filled with video and audio files, word games, and free tutorials.

Memrise is free. However you can try Memrise Pro at $8.49/month.