The Self-Paced Instructional course in Kiswahili and in Portuguese have been established as part and parcel of an NEH grant awarded the Office of International Studies at the University of Richmond starting in 1995. Our participation consisted in the development of the Kiswahili course both at the beginning level (first year) and at the intermediate level (the second year). The primary purpose was to strengthen the African Studies concentration by providing our students with the possibility of familiarizing themselves with a major African language. Since the teaching of an African language has to be an integral component in a well-rounded program of the concentration, and since no other African language could be taught given the human resources at hand, given the size of our institution and given the number of our students choosing the Africa concentration area in International Education, we found relevant to use a flexible format structured in a way to help motivated students learn the language with proper pedagogical guidance and aids. Therefore, the self-instructional format was adopted and the University of Richmond joined the National Association of Self-Instructional Language Programs (NASILP).
The self-paced instructional course in Swahili aims at helping the student: develop communicative skills (listening and speaking being the major ones) to a level where he/she will be able to engage in spontaneous, creative and unassisted communication with a native speaker.