Swahili Returns to the UofA - From Skype to School

For some instructors, daily interaction with their students is the norm, but for David Irungu, it's a privilege.

Irungu is the Swahili instructor for our department. Until a few weeks ago, he taught his class via Skype. On the day of his arrival, Irungu was scheduled to attend faculty orientation and possibly find an apartment but his students had something else in store for him.

His students had been anticipating his arrival for weeks and insisted on him teaching just hours after he had arrived at the university. Since that day, Irungu counts down the minutes until each class because he enjoys his job, and his students’ enthusiasm about learning Swahili fuels his desire to teach.

Irungu said being able to interact with his students face-to-face is one of the most rewarding experiences that he has ever had. In the near future, he hopes to see his students fluently speak Swahili and participate in study abroad programs in Africa. 


“When I was teaching my class via Skype, it was hard but I managed. The connection was very poor at times because we often have blackouts in Africa. When I was in Kenya, there was no way for me to look at my students’ assignments and assess them unless the documents were scanned and sent to me. Now I am able to go through the assignments with my students and help them to correct minor errors."

David Macharia Irungu - Instructor of Swahili

Irungu said his goal is to ensure that his students advance in Swahili because it will help them excel in their future endeavors.

The United States is engaging in more business dealings in foreign countries and having a background in Swahili or any second language will increase an applicant’s chance of receiving a job.

Learning a second language also increases your cultural awareness of various countries and enables you to explore a world outside of your comfort zone.