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The Swahili Language

Swahili, often referred to as Kiswahili, is the national language of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and the lingua franca for as many as 150 million people in Central and East Africa. It is also one of the official languages of the African Union and the East African Community. For centuries, Swahili has been a key language of trade and culture across East Africa and continues today to be the key language for some of the fastest growing countries in the world. Today African languages, especially regional languages like Swahili, are more in demand than ever before as international businesses look to expand into the African market.

East Africa is a region renowned for its stunning natural beauty, friendly people, and its diverse languages and cultures. The CLS Swahili program offers a chance to get a foothold into this region and the opportunity to communicate with people across a broad spectrum of countries and cultures.

Program Sites

The CLS Program has suspended all summer language institutes for 2020.


Previous Institutes

Featured Alumni Profiles

Troy Spier
Swahili 2017
Arusha, Tanzania
Simone Yuille
Swahili 2018
Arusha, Tanzania
Andy Marshall
Swahili 2016
Arusha, Tanzania

Swahili Stories

Announcing Selection for the 2020 CLS Program

The CLS Program is pleased to announce the results of its 2020 summer competition. Congratulations to all the finalists and alternates who participated in the application for the CLS Program this summer.

Finalists for the 2020 CLS Program were selected from a diverse pool of nearly 5,000...

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Posted February 27, 2020


Janet Purdy

“My CLS experience sent me in an entirely new direction of learning and research. I am now a scholar of East Africa and the Indian Ocean.”

When Janet started to study art history, she was primarily focused on West and Central Africa. After learning that her university offered Swahili...

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Posted December 13, 2019


Announcing the 2020 CLS Application - Now Open!

We are pleased to announce that the application for the 2020 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is now open! American undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply now to learn a critical foreign language next summer on a fully-funded study abroad program.

The...

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Posted September 12, 2019