The activities of the Department of Kiswahili for Foreigners were initially embedded in the former Institute of Kiswahili and Foreign Languages, better known as TAKILUKI which was established in 1979. Following the University restructuring process; the new Department of Kiswahili for Foreigners has been established to teach Kiswahili programmes for foreigners. The Department is located in the heart of the Stone Town of Zanzibar.

The Department has been rapidly growing in terms of the programmes, teaching methods, instructional materials and qualified academic staff. The State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) aims at making the Department of Kiswahili for Foreigners the preferred centre for learning Kiswahili worldwide. 


 The department has the following objectives:

  • To teach, promote and spread Kiswahili within and outside the country.
  • To teach Kiswahili to foreigners.
  • To co-operate with other institutes sharing similar objectives and functions from within and outside the country.

Courses available

The Department offers the following courses for the foreigners wishing to learn Kiswahili:

  • Kiswahili for Beginners
  • Intermediate Kiswahili Course
  • Advanced Kiswahili Course
  • Kiswahili Literature
  • Tailor made course
  • Kiswahili for Tourists

Kiswahili Course for Beginners

Course Code: KBL – 11

In this level the Department provides basic instruction on how to greet people at different times and at different levels of social status, preparing students for simple conversations in an authentic manner. In addition to that it offers other basic language skills such as speaking, writing, listening and reading; within those areas, grammar is introduced throughout.

The Department also integrates the student with Swahili culture and values. It directs the student to use the language in real situations so that the student builds self-confidence in using the language in a variety of different contexts.

Finally, the Department develops the student’s communicative writing skills. It encourages the student to be independent by participating in conversations with a variety of Swahili speakers and interacting with people in different contexts.

The students are supplied with a textbook – ZUNGUMZA KISWAHILI Hatua ya Kwanza.

Duration: four weeks.

Kiswahili for Intermediate Learners’ Course

Course Code: KIL – 20

At the intermediate level, the course is designed for the students to learn language through the environment, and to learn grammar through context. Also, content is integrated with the language. This level provides various reading, listening and writing skills to those who have a fair amount of knowledge of the language. This will help the students to immerse the Swahili language community.

The Department of Kiswahili for Foreigners designs the course to engage the student in functional usage of the language for meaningful purpose, developing appropriate strategies for initiating conversation, giving and receiving directions, asking and responding, reading passages and enabling him/her to give simple opinions.

The Department’s focus is to engage the student in full participation in academic, social and work contexts in Swahili. It is designed to enable the student to evaluate ideas and responses.

Duration: four weeks.

Kiswahili for Advanced Learners’ Course

Course Code: KAL – 30


At this level the Department of Kiswahili for Foreigners develops listening skills. Through different books, this level is designed for the student to expand vocabulary and to evaluate and analyze the Swahili language in different situations and purposes.

It also directs the students to identify the main ideas, discuss and present them through Swahili language.

Duration: four weeks.

Kiswahili Literature

Course Code: KLT – 40

The course has a core syllabus and a variable component which takes into account the needs of the participants. The minimum time for the course is two weeks (40 hours). All the texts required may be purchased from the Department. The Department also has a well-stocked class library.

Kiswahili for Tourists

Course Code: KFT – 11

 This is only a one-week course that is provided for tourists who visit the Zanzibar islands just for few days. It is intended to help them to communicate with local people. The Department provides the basic language needed for greetings, buying and asking directions.

Tailor made Courses

Apart from the courses mentioned above, the department is flexible to offer special programmes according to the needs and interest of the learners.

Programmes for Groups

In addition to scheduled programmes across the calendar year, the Department recognizes the need of various institutions for programmes that are offered to a specific group of students coming from the same institution.

 Programme Calendar

The programme is offered throughout the year but the Department’s preferences are to commence the programme on the first week of a month during working days for individual students.

Admission is also done for those wishing to carry out their studies in other periods of a month but their schedule will begin in the afternoon.

Class Hours

Morning class starts from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Afternoon class starts from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Registration requirements

There are no specific entry requirements for the courses offered by the Department of Kiswahili for Foreigners. Interested students will be required to submit registration forms which will be available on our website or by request.

Classes in these programmes are held during morning hours.

Preferred start dates in 2023 for beginner, intermediate and advanced courses will be:

08th January 2024
05th February 2024
04th March 2024
01st April 2024
06th May 2024
03rd June 2024
01st July 2024
05th August 2024
02nd September 2023
07th October 2024
04th November 2024
02th December 2024.

Those interested in learning Kiswahili may do so in the following ways:

  • Visit the Department in person
  • Visit the website:


Contact Informations

The State University of Zanzibar

Department of Kiswahili for Foreigners

P.O. Box 146

Zanzibar – Tanzania

E mail:


Certificate Issuance

Course certificates will be issued on completion of at least four weeks of studies. For those who will study less than this period, a certificate of attendance/participation will be offered for them.


There are registration fee of US $ 15 will be charged for each student and is the same for all courses.

Classes are held for four hours a day – from Monday to Friday. Fees are charged at the rate of US $ 10 per student per hour. For a group of students more than 9 there will be a discount of US $ 2 per student per hour. The weekly rate per course is as follows:

10 x 4 x 5 = US $ 200 per week (for individuals)


8 x 4 x 5 = US $160 per week (for a group exceeding 9 students).

Residence Permit and Visa Processing

Students who will be participating in a course should obtain a visa through the on-line visa portal. It is possible to obtain a multiple entry tourist visa for 90 days. However, the Department recommends obtaining a multi-year student visa. This visa, costing $250, allows students to return to complete their studies over a period of several years. However – it is important to note, this visa requires that the visa holder depart and return to Tanzania after 90 days.

The application process for a student visa must be completed before travel (in the student’s home country). Steps in the application process are the following:

  1. Contact the department, indicating the course, start date and duration of stay.
  2. Receive confirmation of entry including a letter of admittance from the University.
  3. Obtain return travel (flight) reservations.
  4. Obtain digital passport size picture.

Use the Tanzania visa portal to apply for a Student Visa. You will be asked to submit digital copies of the letter of admittance, return air ticket, passport size photo. Visa applications can take up to ten business days.

Visa Guideline read more


The Department of Kiswahili for Foreigners can provide host families for those who are interested to stay with a local family; this will reinforce further their language and cultural skills. Student will be provided with a nice room with fan and writing table, along with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Current rates are US $ 20 per day.

Field Trips

For those participating in group instruction, required field trips are arranged every week. On these, students visit rural communities throughout the island as well as ancient Zanzibar historical sites, such as: Mangapwani Slave Chambers, Kizimbani Spice farm, Jozani Forest, Maruhubi Ruins, Kizimkazi- Zanzibar Old Capital Old Mosque, Traditional Healing Arts, House of Wonder, Women Ceramics Collective, Seaweed farming, etc. These visits provide valuable experience with the more traditional life-ways in Zanzibar and are often coupled with time for students to take advantage of the beaches and villages outside Stone Town.

Teaching staff

The staff at the Department is a group of well qualified dedicated experts with years of experience in teaching Kiswahili to foreigners. The group has a sound knowledge of the language and its culture, and is ready to share this with others.


The Department invites you to join a large number of foreign students for a course in both the Kiswahili language and the culture of Zanzibar and to enjoy the hospitality of the staff and people of Zanzibar. 

The State University of Zanzibar

Department of Kiswahili for Foreigners

Head of Department

Shani Suleiman Khalfan

P.O. Box 146

Zanzibar – Tanzania

E mail: