Want to learn isiZulu? Now's your chance to do so free

01 September 2022 - 12:10
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Since its inception in 2012, Nal'ibali, SA’s prime reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has partnered with numerous stakeholders to maximise its impact. It has expanded its reach beyond SA and its latest collaboration with international language-learning platform Duolingo will offer nearly 50-million active monthly language students worldwide the opportunity to learn isiZulu for free.  

Duolingo announced the launch of the beginners’ isiZulu course for English speakers at its annual virtual conference, Duocon, on August 26. The addition of isiZulu forms part of its efforts to bring cultural awareness and exposure of lesser-known languages to a wider audience. Duolingo will create additional access for students globally to learn to speak isiZulu via Duolingo's mobile app and website.  

“Our mission is to develop the best education in the world and make it universally available. We’re proud to partner with Nal’ibali, an organisation also devoted to improving access to education, to launch this course and help teach isiZulu in a fun and engaging way,” said Emily Moline, senior curriculum designer at Duolingo. 

isiZulu is spoken by more than 12-million people, making it the most widely spoken African language in SA. The Duolingo isiZulu course will introduce students to the language’s click sounds and familiarise new speakers with its many noun classes. In addition to learning how to speak isiZulu, users will learn how to appreciate music such as amapiano and gqom, communicate with family members, talk about eating amasi and, of course, navigate the South African taxi system.     

Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) is known for advocating for the use of South African languages in literacy. The campaign seeks to address the literacy problems in SA by helping adults and children to fall in love with reading and hearing stories in their languages. The largest producer and distributor of multilingual children’s stories in SA, part of Nal’ibali’s focus is to “promote the importance of previously marginalised African languages and the Duolingo platform is an excellent opportunity with which to do so. We want more attention to be given to African languages, which will help protect and promote the literacy value chain in SA,” said Nal’ibali’s director, Nqabakazi Mathe-Gina. 

Duolingo offers 103 language courses for more than 40 languages, ranging from the world’s top five most-spoken ones to lesser-known and endangered languages. The courses are built to feel like a game. Users compete via leader boards, maintain streaks, earn points, level up and receive virtual currency as they learn. The lessons are bite-size and can be done on-the-go in five minutes. Lessons include reading, writing, listening and speaking exercises.

As part of the isiZulu course launch, Duolingo has partnered with Vodacom, which will offer its users free access to Duolingo for a year.  

Article provided by Nal'ibali

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.