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9+ Best Swahili Textbooks & Phrasebooks for Beginners

Looking for the best Swahili textbooks?

See, some people like learning with courses.

Others want language apps. And some people like learning with textbooks.

And Swahili textbooks are a simple way to learn Swahili. Why?

Books guide you from page 0, to page 1, to page 3… to page 100. From your first words to your first conversation. You learn tons of words and grammar rules along the way.

So, in this guide, you’ll find some of the best Swahili textbooks and phrasebooks.

By the way, if you want to HEAR real Swahili, check out this audio lesson while you browse the books. (3-Minute Swahili Lesson from SwahiliPod101.com)

best swahili textbooks


  • Be careful about getting books on Kindle. The formatting may differ from the print version.

1. Swahili: A Foundation for Speaking, Reading, and Writing

This may be one of the best Swahili textbooks on here.

  • Pages: 312
  • By UPA
  • Strength: Comprehensive book

Universities use this for their Swahili classes. As with any decent textbook, you learn words, phrases, pronunciation, grammar, dialogues and exercises.. The book does have an emphasis on daily conversations  in Africa and not just “travel phrases”

click here to learn more.

2. Simplified Swahili

This Swahili textbook has been around for over 30 years.. and is still going strong. And that’s a good sign if you’re looking for a trusted learning source.

  • Pages: 317
  • By Addison-Wesley Longman
  • Strength: Comprehensive book

You learn over 1000 words as well as grammar rules that you can practice with exercises. Yes, answers are included. The 66 quick chapters are good for quick study sessions. And yes, answers are included.

If you’re looking for a beginner textbook, you won’t go wrong with this one. As a bonus, you get to learn British English too.

click here to learn more.

3. Swahili Grammar for Introductory and Intermediate Levels: Sarufi ya Kiswahili cha Ngazi ya Kwanza na Kati

This is another good textbook for Swahili learners. It’s meant to be used for college students, but you can definitely use it if you’re a solo learner,

  • Pages: 462
  • By UPA
  • Strength: Comprehensive book

This includes lots of an introduction to Swahili for beginner learners, pronunciation, alphabet, basic phrases, dialogues, grammar explanations and exercises. Pretty much what you’d expect from any good textbook.

click here to learn more.

4. Learn Swahili Quickly and Easily: The theory made simple

This is another strong contender for the best Swahili learning books.

  • Pages: 256
  • Independently Published
  • Strength: Grammar and overall good Swahili book for beginners

Instead of throwing you into grammar lessons right away, the book introduces you to the language without using grammar in section one. So you can get an understanding of how it works. You also get plenty of exercises to deepen your understanding.

Then, the second section summarizes the first and brings int he grammar rules… which are now easier to understand.

click here to learn more.

5. Complete Swahili Beginner to Intermediate Course: Learn to read, write, speak and understand a new language

This is another good textbook that promises to take you to the Intermediate level.

Definitely a strong contender on my list of best Swahili textbooks.

This 18 chapter textbook seems to cover it all: grammar explanations, dialogues, vocabulary, exercises, and cultural insights. The only complaint (from some people) is that it may be too fast-paced for some learners – however that may be just a personal preference.

  • Pages: 336
  • By Teach  Yourself
  • Strength: Comprehensive book

Just make sure that you’re able to get audio with this book. Most complaints come from people unable to get the CD/companion audio.

click here to learn more.

6. Swahili Grammar and Workbook

Why is a “workbook” on my list of best Swahili textbooks?

  • Pages: 262
  • By Routledge

Well, it’s one thing to just “read” things and passively take them in. It’s another thing to practice and do exercises. Reading puts information into your head temporarily. Exercises make the information STICK like gum under the table.

Here you get a ton of Swahili grammar explanations as well as exercise. The downside is, it has no answer key or CD… if you require those.

  • Conclusion: Good for grammar and practice

click here to learn more.

7. Lonely Planet Swahili Phrasebook & Dictionary

If you’re learning Swahili, then you’ll want to know phrases. Why phrases?

Phrases get you speaking more right now. Especially if 1) you’re a tourist and need to say some basic things, or 2) you’re a learner who wants to add more “range of expression” to your Swahili.

You’ll also want a dictionary… just to load yourself up on more words.

  • Pages: 264
  • By Lonely Planet

That’s where this phrasebook/dictionary comes in, with over 3500 words inside. Plus, plenty of phrases for real-life situations. The phrasebook-dictionary hybrid is geared towards travelers but beginners can also make good use of it.

  • Strength: Phrases

click here to learn more.


This is another good and simple Swahili phrasebook.

  • Pages: 103

Across 14 or so chapters, you get basic phrases and translations  centered around common topics like greetings, self introductions and more. Geared more so for beginners and travelers looking to add some phrases to their brain. Not much else.

click here to learn more.

9. Learn Swahili: A quick guide that ACTUALLY teaches you to be conversational

This is another decent Swahili learning book for those that just want phrases and basic conversations

  • Pages: 29
  • Independently Published
  • Good if you’re looking for a free resource to get started with.

It’s also the smaller one out of them all here – coming it at just 29 pages. Given the paperback price point though ($9.99), I’d suggest you get the kindle version (it’s free) and get the Lonely Phrases book which would teach you much, much more for $1 less. But, free is free and that’s nice.

click here to learn more.

These are some of the best Swahili textbooks and books I’ve found so far.

But, if you want something a little more than a “book,” then I recommend SwahiliPod101.

SwahiliPod101 is a Swahili learning program. You get audio/video lessons made by real teachers. The lessons get you speaking in minutes and are just 3-15 minutes in length. Just press the play button below to check out a lesson.

So, if you want to HEAR real Swahili and learn faster with a program, I recommend them.

Click here to get a Free Lifetime Account at SwahiliPod101.com.

– The Main Junkie

Learn Swahili with SwahiliPod101.com

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