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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 December 2004
I have been studying swahili with both this book and Joan Russell's teach yourself course. For me, this is by far the better text. The course is set out logically and vocabulary and grammar points are set out point by point in each chapter. While the exercises are bit like drills, they do reinforce the grammar or vocabulary point made and you can do a chapter a day to get to real targets. The way the language works is set out clearly, and points which you may find confusing in Russell's text are clearly explained here. For example, the greeting "Shikamoo" to elders is simply stated in Russell's book as a greeting to elders to show respect. Wilson, on the other hand will tell you that it means "I hold your feet" which helps you understand more about the technicalities of the language. Wilson's book is a technical exercise, but I found it gave me a real knowledge of how swahili works in practice and I understood not just where to use appropriate forms, but why and how. The point-by-point explanation definately works. I agree with the previous reviewer, this is the definitive course.
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on 12 February 2005
I agree with previous reviewers - the structure is logical, which makes this the most user-friendly language book I've ever come across. The information is clear and concise, with attention to correct pronunciation. Throughout the text, Wilson makes a consistent effort to demonstrate the use of phrases within their appropriate context. I will be visiting friends in Kenya in June and received this book 2 days ago - simply by reading this on the train to work I can already conjugate common verbs and confident with the greetings. Wilson noted that Swahili is one of the easier languages to learn - he definitely proves his point in this book.
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on 28 January 2002
This is the classic Kiswahili textbook, predating all the modern audiocassette ones. The title really does say it all: learning the language is made simple. This was the book my father used on setting off to Dar twenty years ago, and is still the most grammatically thorough Swahili book in travellers' backpacks and expats' briefcases.
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on 14 October 2010
As a linguist who already speaks 3 foreign languages, I have no problem learning the grammar. However, for someone who is new to languages or who is not familiar with grammatical terms, this will be a challenging book.

Whilst the nature of Swahili means that learning nouns by noun-class rather than subject-group is more appropriate, I would question the vocabulary chosen by the author. A lot of it sounds highly colonialised (Britisher; don't beat the servants; the crops are flourishing well) and is of little use to the modern-day traveller.

The quantity of vocabulary it asks you to learn is also immense, and is what will slow you down the most.

So a good and comprehensive book which, once completed, will have taught you Swahili very well, but I feel it will be hard-going for many and not as relevant as it could be.
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on 30 July 2007
I wouldn't use this book to learn Swahili as a beginner, but as a work of reference it is superb: detailed, thorough, extremely clear, with plenty of examples, and with lots of useful exercises for practice. Very impressive. If you're starting from scratch, use Colloquial Swahili by McGrath and Marten (book and CDs), and keep Wilson's book at your elbow to get a more thorough appreciation of the structure of the language.
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on 6 January 2010
I spent a year in Tanzania and I really wish I had taken this book with me instead of Joan Russell. The fact is that it does explain a lot about grammar, but once you have the grammar in Swahili learning actual words is not that difficult. I have not seen a better book than this one and I would encourage anyone learning the language to buy one, especially if you want to become fluent or study the language. If you just need a phrasebook for when you are in East Africa for a few weeks then you could always get the Lonely Planet book, but this book is definitely fab for knowing the language.
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on 13 January 2008
I found this book invaluble when I spent 3 months in Kenya. It is stuctured and progresses at a good pace with exercises to pratice what you have learnt. Used alongside flash cards and speaking Swahili as much as possible this book builds the language up thoroughly in stages.
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on 9 May 2010
This provides an excellent structured learning tool. Having used it in Tanzania, I found that it also provides useful phrases that can be used to test the development of one's knowledge with local Swahili speakers. The bite-sized chapters are best tackled sequentially. However the book can also be used as a reference for understanding points of grammar that have been highlighted during practical experience. A Swahili><English dictionary forms an invaluable companion.
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on 29 October 2014
Thankyou Mr Wilson!! Very comprehensive guide. Written a long time ago now.. reminds me of how language textbooks used to look back in the day! (showing my age!) But THANKYOU for answering my questions about Swahili.
I have tried other books and they are SO confusing - I didn't get any answers as to why words were one way, one minute and another way the next!
His suggestion that if you find learning the vocab hard, cut up squares of paper and write on them Swahili one side, English the other WORKS! I am using card as I have a surplus - easier to manage but lots of cutting! But I've learnt the words!

if you're used to modern language books you'll get a shock with this one. But if you want to learn Swahili properly there isn't a lot of choice out there. This one is comprehensive.. and given the grammar system... you need comprehensive!! Go for this one... you'll get the answers - and a lot of fun cutting up card! ;) Keep at it as this language is just rhythmic and beautiful and totally worth it!!!
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on 12 November 2011
This book came in excellent condition. It is extremely well written, better than any other Swahili teaching book which I have used and it has been of invaluable help to me as I am continuing to increase my knowledge of the Swahili language.I am sure that without its input my Swahili would not have developed so well.
Everything is described so clearly and I have no difficulty in understanding all the information given. Grammar teaching is especially good.
Valerie Banks.
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