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Swahili: A Complete Course for Beginners (Spoken World) (Book & CD)

4.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1400023462
ISBN-10: 1400023467
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Swahili: A Complete Course for Beginners (Spoken World) (Book & CD)
  • +
  • Lonely Planet Swahili Phrasebook & Dictionary
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  • Tanzania - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
Total price: $49.92
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Product Details

  • Series: Spoken World
  • Audio CD: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Living Language (November 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400023467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400023462
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
If you could judge a book by its cover, choose this one. The cover picture is delicious, and so is the book! The book will be like a mother to you - it guides you through each step as if no one had ever taught you carefully, sensitively enough, how to learn a language on your own. I say this book is not tedious because it doesn't ask you to simply figure that part (the self-teaching part) out all on your own. On the other hand, if you already know how to teach yourself, that's not a problem - just skim through those parts.

I have used Teach Yourself: Swahili by Joan Russell, Kiswahili Kwa Kitendo, and Swahili: A Foundation... by Hinnebusch, and I have already basically gone through two semester's worth of Swahili, but this one put together by native East Africans is my favorite and still has a lot to teach me after all that. It starts you out with a friendly introduction to each lesson, gives you a warm-up, and the dialogues are longer than in other courses, especially the non-audio ones. Dialogues also come with translations. As usual, there's a list of vocab and, like Teach Yourself, there's a list of key phrases, but unlike Teach yourself, they are more than just translations from the dialogue. Culture notes are a lot of fun and quite elaborate and practical:

"When you get to your table, you won't find napkins (tishu) waiting there for you. Napkins are generally available at the restaurant counter, and customers help themselves. Don't be surprised if you see other customers eating with their hands; this is acceptable table manners in many parts of the world. If you choose to eat with your hand, be sure to use your right hand, as eating with the left hand is considered to be at least odd, if not downright rude and unhygienic, especially in Muslim communities...
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During a recent visit to Tanzania I became fascinated with the people there and with Swahili. In my enthusiasm and desire to learn Swahili in the most elegant way possible, I purchased about 8 books and 3 audio programs. When I happened upon this book listing in Amazon.com I almost didn't buy it thinking that I already had more books than I needed. However, I was intrigued by the first reader's review and decided to take a chance on it. I was not dissapointed!!! I totally agree with the first review. This book and set of tapes is the clearest and most "user-friendly" program to date. I am very pleased with the style and extremely well-integrated teaching process. If, unlike me, you want to buy only ONE book - I would recommnend this one.
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This book is simply amazing. I am in complete agreement with the first two people who commented on it. As they have already done an excellent job of describing it, I just wanted to put forward another positive opinion.

The book is very easy to use, very informational about the language and culture, and guides you very smoothly throughout, ultimately leading you to a strong intermediate level in Swahili. This book was immensely fun to use, and my motivation for studying the language dropped off quite a bit, because I knew that my remaining resource at that point was Teach Yourself Swahili, which isn't nearly as good.

I had used much of this book and TY Swahili before going to Tanzania for two weeks in July, and I can say that it was very helpful and the people I met there were incredulous at my abilities in the language. I credit my success in Swahili to this book and I think it is a must-have for all learners of Swahili!

Kitabu hiki kimenifundishia lugha ya Afrika nzuri hii vizuri sana, na kitakufundishia pia! Na kitabu hiki, Kiswahili si lugha ngumu, ni lugha rahisi na ya kusisimuwa.

(This book has taught me this beautiful African language very well, and it will teach you too! With this book, Swahili is not a difficult language, it is an easy and exciting language.)

Good luck! Kila la kheri!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Swahili is a tough language for English speakers. The vocabulary has almost no cognates, and the grammar is completely different from anything you see in an Indo-European language. For these reasons, it's hard to imagine that any book would allow an English speaker to rapidly become proficient in Swahili.

On the positive side, this book has audio recordings of native speakers talking about relatively simple things that a traveler is likely to encounter: introductions, ordering in a restaurant, and so on.

However, I found many things about this book frustrating.

There is no index. If I want to find the discussion of the subjunctive, I have to scan through the table of contents looking for it.

Many grammatical forms are used before they're actually discussed. For example, in lesson 9 we have a waiter at a restaurant asking, "Nikusaidie nini?," which uses a subjunctive form of the verb "kusaidia," but the subjunctive isn't introduced until lesson 10.

The organization of each lesson is a little strange. Subsection A is a vocabulary warm-up, which isn't recorded on the CD's. This makes it especially hard to follow subsection B, a dialogue that uses all that vocabulary. Subsection C is the a long vocabulary list -- without which it's absolutely impossible to follow anything that was said in the preceding dialog! Subsection D is "key phrases," which is a misnomer. These consist of phrases that are not "key" but simply illustrate grammar points. For example, I don't think many readers of this book will need to know the specific phrase "Do you like your classes and your professors?"

I would have liked it if the CD had contained far more repetitive grammar drills, and far less space devoted to dialogues that I found impossible to follow.
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