Learning, Online - Reflections on teaching history

Swahili Coast and Indian Ocean Exchange

Students learn about the effects of Indian Ocean trade along the East African coast using the Swahili language.  This lesson plan could be one or two days, depending on pacing, student grade, class length, course, and possible extension.  Materials were designed for eleventh graders, but could be used with younger students. In addition to learning about East Africa, students practice corroborating historical evidence.  More Swahili-based lesson ideas here.

Lesson steps

  1. Spotify playlist with songs—dance hall, hip hop, and pop—in Swahili.  Fun to play as students come into class.

    Photograph of a road side shop

    “The Duka is an archive.” This photo of a road-side shop in northern Tanzania The Story of Swahili is a starting point for this lesson.

  2. Introduce Swahili, including students learning to introduce themselves, slides 1-5.
  3. Explore loan words in a list of items at duka (small shop) in East Africa, slides 6-7 and first page of worksheet. Students look through the list, in both English and Swahili, and guess origins of the words.
    1. Note how words are Bantuized: all syllables in end in a vowel
    2. Examples: biaskeli and petroli come from English.
    3. Students may guess that sukari is from Spanish.  The Arabic word for sugar, sukar, entered both Spanbish and Swahili.
    4. When John Mugane says “The duka is an archive,” he means that the words for all of the items in the shop show some of the history of East Africa by why of the places with which it interacted.
  4. Present context: Indian Ocean exchange network, slides 8-10.
  5. Students investigate, by closely examining the table of loanwords on the second and third pages of the handout. Directions on slide 11.
    1. Focus on the meanings of the words in the third column
    2. Students should look for patterns.  What kinds of words entered Swahili from the Indian Ocean world?
    3. Students record their analysis on the worksheet.
  6. Students read Ibn Battuta’s recollection of travel along the Swahili Coast
    1. Focus on “Mogadishu,” other sections can be enrichment
    2. Students look for connections to the loan words
  7. Students support a written claim, fourth page of the worksheet  Slide 12 has sentence frames to help students phrase arguments that corroborate linguistic and textual evidence.
  8. Possible extension: linguistic evidence left by Portuguese entry into the Indian Ocean world.  See slides and word tables in the uncut presentation and worksheet.

Presentation to organize class:

Google slides here

Hand out for students:

Google doc here:

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL