Appreciating African Languages 

Just like there are many languages spoken in the United States, many languages and dialects are spoken in Africa. There are over 1,000 languages spoken in Africa! Some are linked to the earliest communications between humans, while others remain as evidence of conquerors of the past who forced their cultures and languages on Africa. English French, Portugese, and Arabic are official languages of many of the countries in Africa. It's many languages testify to the vast diversity of the African people.



Here is "hello" in five different languages spoken in Africa:

Tswana - Dumela (doo MAY lah)

Tsotsi Talk - Hey-tah (HAY tah)

French - Bonjour (bohn ZHOOR)

Swahili - Jambo (JAHM boh)

Arabic - Marhaba (MAHR hah bah)

Klinker, Susan; 1998 Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance Calender; Inoway Design.




Appreciating African Languages Lesson Plan


Author: Lisa Marchant
Grade Level: 2nd grade


1. Students will describe what they learn about the many languages spoken in Africa.
2. Students will learn to say "hello" in at least one language spoken in Africa.

Materials Needed:

1. African music on tape or CD (The Power of One Soundtrack, Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
2. A person from Africa who can come to the classroom and speak about the language or languages he/she speaks (if you live by a university, there may be an international center, or you can use the background information provided and talk about it yourself)
3. CD/tape player
4. Art supplies (paper, markers, tape)


1. Play a few pieces of African music that you had previously selected and allow the students to just listen, or to dance if they want.
2. Discuss how the words sounded to the students, if they liked it, why or why not,and how it made them feel.
3. Discuss with the students about other languages spoken in the U.S. other than English.
4. Explain that there are also many languages spoken in Africa, and tell them it was African music that they were listening to.
5. Tell the students that they are going to learn about the many languages spoken in Africa, and they are going to learn how to say hello in at least one of those languages.
6. Introduce your guest speaker (if you are using one; if not, do this yourself), and allow him or her to speak to the students about the many different languages spoken in Africa. Have him or her teach the students "hello" in five different languages (provided in the background information). Ask him or her to write each "hello" with their corresponding language on the board.
7. Play the African music again, softly.
8. Students will partner up and practice the different ways to say "hello." Each student will choose one "hello" they want to use for the rest of the week.
9. Individually, students will write their chosen "hello" on a half sheet of paper, and decorate it how they choose.
10. Tape the finished products on the outside of your door.
11. Remind the students to use their new greeting the next morning.


1. Give students some time to write about two things they learned (such as the names of different languages spoken in Africa, how to say "hello" in an African language, the number of languages spoken in Africa) and what they liked about the lesson. Have them get into groups of 4-5 and discuss what they wrote. Have the students turn in their reflection paper.

Assessment Rubric:

Not Yet

Student turned in a reflection paper, including at least two things he/she learned (look under Evaluation for examples), and at least one thing he/she liked about the lesson.

Student turned in a reflection paper, including only one thing he/she learned, and/or one thing he/she liked about the lesson.

Student didn't turn in a reflection paper.

2. Every morning, meet students at the door, say "hello," and they will respond in their chosen African "hello."

Assessment Rubric:

Not Yet

Student responds appropriately every day of the week.

Student responds appropriately 3-4 times during the week.

Student responds appropriately 2 or less times during the week.

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