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African Languages Lab


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


This course is a practical introduction to African languages and African linguistic practices. The aim of the course is two-fold: in the first module students will learn about the African linguistic diversity and they will explore how speakers of African languages use language to communicate and organize indigenous knowledge in the African multilingual context; during this module, students will attend lectures by experts in the field and will combine traditional academic skills with practical investigations of the socio-linguistic situation in an African country of their choice.
In the second module students work on an African language and on communicative practices and learn how to collect, represent and understand linguistic phenomena.
Throughout the semester students will be asked to work in groups and combine academic research with digital productions and oral and poster presentations. Topics addressed in the course include (see table below for explanation):

  • Introduction to African languages

  • Multilingualism, language policy, and language ideologies in Africa

  • Diglossia in Arabic

  • From sounds to written words: orthographies & how to represent the sounds of African languages

  • From words to meaning: translations and how to represent meaning

  • From words to discourse and interaction: linguistic routines & communicative competence.

Course objectives

  • Basic knowledge about African languages and linguistic practices in the African continent;

  • Insights on the relevance of language for the understanding of social, political and economic dynamics.

Students will learn how to combine academic inquiry (searching and selecting information; use of libraries, developing style in writing, present results) with digital communication skills and basic ethnography.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


1) Four to five smaller assignments in which you apply the acquired skills and knowledge to a particular case. This includes making a language profile of a selected country, and doing an annotation exercise of a text in an African language.
2) Final assignment: short encyclopedic production (article or multimedia).


Smaller assignments: 60% of the final grade.
Final assignment: 40%


A resit is possible a) for one of the smaller assignment, and b) for the final assignment if the grade is lower than 5.5.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the assignment results, a review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Not applicable


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.
Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats


Not applicable