Language Program

The African Language Program in the Department of African and African American Studies offers courses in more than twenty African languages every semester.

A serious understanding of Africa begins with language study. Indigenous African languages serve as road maps to understanding how social, political and economic institutions and processes develop, from kinship structures, the evolution of political offices, and trade relations, to the transfer of environmental knowledge. African languages are key to understanding how sub-saharan Africans understand, organize, and transmit essential knowledge to successive generations. All the African languages offered serve as lingua franca for large populations and are important in regional commerce, governance and development.


Course requirements

African languages can be taken to fulfill the foreign language requirement for Harvard College and the African language requirement for concentrations in the Department of African and African American Studies.
Learn more about requirements in the language program

African languages

With anywhere between 1000 and 2000 languages, Africa is home to approximately one-third of the world's languages.
Learn more about African languages

African language courses

The African Language Program provides students flexibility in acquiring new languages or advancing their skills by offering both Half Course and Full Course options of language study.
Learn more about our course offerings

Language citations

Students who have taken four half courses in an African language above the introductory level may be eligible to receive a Foreign Language Citation.
Learn more about getting a language citation

The African Language Program and Social Engagement

Courses in the African Language Program have a strong emphasis on the culture of their language. Learning the African culture of one's language of study is central to the ALP philosophy of empowering students with the necessary linguistic skills for effective social engagement in their endeavors.
Learn more about the ALP's social engagement

Online classrooms for language courses

ALP language course websites provide language learning tools with features that facilitate communication and collaborative learning.
Learn more about course websites

Placement tests

The African Language Program administers placement tests for students seeking foreign language waivers and to determine appropriate proficiency level for course placement.
Learn more about taking placement tests