I.  Introduction:

There is no doubt that the best and rapid way of learning Kiswahili is to study at the Institute of Kiswahili and Foreign Languages in Zanzibar.

The Institute is located in the Zanzibar town, the place where its Kiswahili dialect was approved to form a base of the standard Swahili used today.

Those who study Kiswahili at the Institute acquire knowledge of the famous Swahili culture renowned for its politeness and sympathetic behaviour.

Apart from the fact that Zanzibar is a land of attractive carvings, spices and fruits, it is also a land of friendliness. 'Hujambo' is the spontaneous way of greeting any Zanzibari when you start a conversation. See how she/he responds with a genuine warmth and is then willing to help.

Many students who take courses at the Institute retain fond memories of Zanzibar when they go back home.

The Institute was established in 1979. Ever since, it has taught Kiswahili to many students from different part of the world. The institute is now known worldwide for its rapid results.

II.  Objectives:

Besides many general objectives the Institute tries to meet, there are specific and central ones as follows:

  1. To promote and spread Kiswahili within and outside the country.

  2.  To teach Kiswahili within and outside the country.

  3. To teach Kiswahili to foreigners destined to work in Tanzania and other countries where Kiswahili is used.

  4. To cooperate with other Institutes sharing similar objectives and functions within and outside the country.


III. Admission Requirements:

The Institute has not laid down strict admission requirements for the courses in the department of Kiswahili for foreigners.

If you are interested in learning Kiswahili please make an enquiry to the following address:

The Director,
Institute of  Kiswahili and Foreign Languages,
 P.O.Box 882, (or  P. O. Box 146)
Zanzibar, Tanzania
Tel/Fax: (direct) 255-24-2233337
Tel: (general) 255-24-2230724

IV.  Courses Available:

The Institute conducts the following courses for foreigners:

  1. The Beginners course

  2. The Intermediate course

  3. The Advanced course

  4. Kiswahili Literature course.


The beginners course is intended for those who do not have any knowledge of Kiswahili or who have little knowledge of speaking and understanding oral Kiswahili

The course begins with elementary lessons such as greetings and self introduction and finishes up with lessons of self expression in everyday life e.g. at grocery stores, at bank, at post office, making telephone calls etc.

After completing the course satisfactorily a student will have no problem in a day to day simple conversation

A student is advised to devote a period of at least one month for the course if a meaningful learning is to take place. There is a course book for the course titled 'ZUNGUMZA KISWAHILI: HATUA YA KWANZA'.  


The Intermediate Course is taken by those students who have a fair previous knowledge of Kiswahili. Such students may be those who have completed the beginners course at the Institute or those who have learnt Kiswahili somewhere else before coming to the Institute.

After completing the course the students will be able to do among other things:

This course is recommended for foreigners who would like to work in any Kiswahili speaking country. The time recommended for this course is at least two weeks. This course also goes with a course book for the course titled 'ZUNGUMZA KISWAHILI - HATUA YA PILI'.


The Advanced Course is  intended for advanced students. This level is suitable for researchers, trainers, extension workers etc. Students who complete this stage will be able to speak Kiswahili more fluently than before.

The time proposed for this course is at least three weeks. The course goes with a self-contained text book titled 'ZUNGUMZA KISWAHILI - HATUA YA TATU'.


Kiswahili Literature is the highest course offered to foreign students. Students with a sound knowledge of Kiswahili can apply for this course.

Usually the course is intended for students who may wish to carry out research or study Kiswahili literature, traditions and culture of the Swahili people. It should also help those who wish to undertake a comparative linguistic study and make themselves familiar with Kiswahili authors and actors, past and present. Students at this level study all forms of Kiswahili literature.

The course has its own syllabus designed by the Institute. However an adhoc syllabus may be prepared when the need arises.

The minimum time for this course is two weeks. Textbooks for the course are on sale at the Institute's bookshop. The Institute also has a very good general library and a special library for those who learn Kiswahili.

V. Fees:

The only payment the Institute charges is the tuition fee which is the same for all the courses. There is no registration fee. Students also need to buy the course books. At present the fee is $4 per student per hour.

A lesson takes 4 hours a day, Monday to Friday. The charges may run as follows:

4 US dollars x 4 hours x 5 days = 80 US dollars per week

1 text book = 4 US dollars.

The fee may change subject to running expenses. Classes take up to six students and a minimum of two learners.

VI. Accommodation:

Students may choose to stay with families locally. The Institute has a good list of families who take in foreign students as paying guests. A full board fee at present is $15 per day. A student has his/her own room.

Those who stay with families become `family members'. They are free to participate in the family daily activities. A student has a good opportunity to speak Kiswahili most of the time he/she is with the family.

Students may also choose to look for accommodation by themselves.

VII. Visits to Educational/Historical Sites:

Zanzibar has got no wild animal parks and game reserves but it is rich with its non-crowded and clean sandy beaches and a number of ancient historical sites.

Normally there are visits to different places which are arranged by the Institute after a request from students who pay for the trips. The expenses are reasonable. Students are accompanied by their teachers in these visits. The visits are very pleasant and provide lots of fun and they are also a good way of practising Kiswahili.

VIII. Teaching Staff:

All our teachers are native Kiswahili speakers who have got a long time experience. Most of them have taught Kiswahili to foreigners for more than ten years. Our teachers are very dedicated and have got a perfect knowledge of the language and culture. They are willing to share their knowledge of Kiswahili and culture outside the classroom.

IX. Invitation:

Please join others in coming to the Institute and take a course. Please send your colleagues to the Institute and they will always have the memories of Zanzibar and the Institute.