I am always looking for Swahili material to read or listen to as a way to augment my language learning. One constantly changing and freely available source of content is the news. Newspapers and news radio are a big part of the culture, and much of that content is now available online.

I have found the style of Swahili that is typically used in newspapers and news broadcasts to be very challenging to understand. They seem to use more specific terminology than what I encounter conversationally, and the Swahili seems to be more pure, with borrowed words being rarely used, even when they are otherwise commonly heard.

Swahili radio programs are particularly challenging because the pace is fast, you have no visual cues to aid your understanding, and the context and topic can change rapidly and without warning. It took me a long time to be able to keep up at all, and I still have a way to go. I started by listening to just a few minutes at a time, slowing it down, repeating it, and looking up words I didn’t know. Now I can get through a whole program and feel like I knew what they were talking about, even if I didn’t catch every word.


The BBC Swahili site has world news articles and audio segments available in Swahili. For local and regional news, and a more Tanzanian perspective, check out the articles on HabariLeo.

My favorite Swahili radio program that is available as a podcast comes from RFI (Radio France International). They publish three programs daily, two in the morning that are a half hour each, and one in the afternoon that is an hour long. They have segments on world news, history, the arts, and more. All of this content is available for free in the Podcast section of the RFI Kiswahili web site.