SwahiliPod101 offers audio and video lessons (though they’re mostly audio) for learning Swahili. They’re similar to a podcast with two hosts teaching the language with the help of natural dialogues. They take the time to explain key grammar points, vocabulary, interesting cultural information, and so on. Their tends to be more content for beginners and the lesson structure could be improved. As such, it’s better as a supplementary tool for improving your Swahili, rather than a standalone course.
The lessons are generally well-made, though quality can vary depending on when it was added.
Although there’s a lot of content, it’s not structured particularly well.
Good value for a low cost.
- It’s extremely useful for getting extra listening practice.
- They teach using natural dialogues, while explaining important grammar, vocabulary, and interesting cultural information.
- As you move up levels, English is used less.
I Don’t Like
- Too much English is used in the lessons.
- The platform can be confusing to navigate and the recommended lesson pathways aren’t always the best.
- Although there are lots of extra features, only a few of them are actually useful.
There are many subscription lengths available which lower the cost. But, a one-month subscription costs:
Basic: $4/mo Premium: $10/mo Premium Plus: $23/mo
Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 25% on a subscription to SwahiliPod101.
Here at All Language Resources, we take great pride in writing comprehensive reviews of language learning resources.
Typically, we’ll spend several days, if not longer, using the resource before ever beginning to write about it.
But, we haven’t actually tried SwahiliPod101.
So, how are we qualified to write about it?
Well, SwahiliPod101 is created by Innovative Languages. They offer products similar to SwahiliPod101 for 34 languages in total. We’ve already spent a ton of hours testing their courses for ten of those languages.
Although there are some minor differences in the courses for each language, they’re essentially the same product. As such, it would become too time-consuming, and a bit unnecessary for us to spend the 100 hours or so it’d take to try out each of the other 24 languages they offer.
So, although we don’t have direct experience with SwahiliPod101, we’re more than qualified to help you figure out if it’s worth your time and money.
Platform and Course Overview
First off, you can get started using SwahiliPod101 for free with their 7-day trial.
Unlike most resources, you don’t actually need to give them any payment information, so there’s no need to worry about forgetting to cancel the subscription and then getting automatically charged for a product you don’t want.
But, once you give them your email address, they’re going to spam your inbox with far too many emails.
They offer audio and video lessons for learners ranging from absolute beginners to advanced levels. However, the audio lessons or more prevalent, and generally more useful than the video lessons.
Additionally, the majority of the content is targeted towards the beginner and sometimes intermediate levels. There tends not to be much content available for advanced learners, and that content isn’t as useful as the materials for lower-level learners.
More popular languages have more content, so for a language like Swahili, it probably wouldn’t make sense to pay for a long-term subscription, as you’ll likely run out of material too quickly.
Another important thing to mention is that their courses are better suited as a supplementary resource rather than standalone courses.
Lessons have been added to their platform over many years. So, although some pathways have a structured learning plan, much of it does not.
As such, it’d be highly recommended to use it alongside a textbook, otherwise, you may find yourself with random information gaps that weren’t covered by SwahiliPod101.
While this may sound rather negative, it’s still an extremely useful resource – especially when it comes to improving your listening comprehension.
The lessons for Innovative Language’s courses are somewhat similar to a podcast, accompanied by extra materials.
The length of each lesson can vary but often end up around 10 minutes long. These lessons are taught by two hosts and typically follow the format below:
- Introduction with lots of casual chatting
- Dialogue in Swahili
- Reading the dialogue with translations for each line
- Going over the key vocabulary with example sentences
- Grammar discussion with example sentences
- Talking about some aspect of the culture
There’s a lot of casual banter between the hosts which can make things more interesting, but also makes the lessons take longer than they may need to.
The hosts tend to speak a lot in English throughout the lessons – too much so, in my opinion. Although, it is possible to listen to only the dialogue which would be entirely in Swahili.
As you move up to higher levels, there is a noticeable drop in the amount of English used.
Included in the lessons are Lesson Notes.
These are quite useful as you’ll learn more about grammar and culture.
Extras Included in the Premium Plan
There are quite a few extras that are a part of the Premium Plan. Many of them aren’t particularly useful, but I’ll give a brief description of a few of them.
In the lesson dialogue, you can listen to and read each line of the dialogue. It’ll include both English and Swahili. Being able to play one line at a time is pretty helpful.
In addition, there’s a record option where you can record yourself saying any line and then compare it to the native speaker in the recording. Recording yourself speaking in Swahili and comparing it to the recording can help you to improve your speaking.
You’ll also find a list of the key vocabulary words from the lesson. Another useful feature is that there are also example sentences with the vocabulary, so you can see and listen to more instances of how that word is used.
Again, you’ll have the option to record yourself. You can also add these vocabulary words to your flashcards or word bank quite easily, which helps out when it comes time to review.
The slideshow is pretty pointless. You’ll just read and listen to a word and example sentence in Swahili which is given alongside the translations. It’s one of many features that are included in the premium plan that makes it look like there are tons of extras, when in fact, many of them aren’t worthwhile.
The quiz is also somewhat disappointing. Instead of being challenging comprehension exercises, they’re just here to practice vocabulary.
The questions are either true-false for translations or you’re given a word and have to write the translation. They’re not terribly exciting or useful and it feels like a missed opportunity.
Flashcards and Word Bank
These are more useful than some of the other features of SwahiliPod101. You can save words from the lessons and they’ll show up here to review later. It’s nice as well that example sentences, audio recordings, and translations are automatically added in.
There are also lots of vocabulary lists related to different themes, such as clothing, the world cup, or animals. These lists can possibly be helpful but aren’t particularly special.
Most of Innovative Language’s courses have a pretty useful grammar bank, though a couple was rather sparse.
Here, you can search for various grammar points by level and you’ll be provided with detailed explanations of how that grammar point works. Additionally, there are examples and links to lessons where that grammar point was used.
Plans and Prices
I don’t like the way that SwahiliPod101 lists their prices. They seem super cheap, from $4-$23 per month. Unfortunately, that’s only if you sign-up for their two-year plan. As there likely isn’t enough content to keep you engaged for two years, I’d avoid signing up for such a long period of time.
Instead, let’s look at the monthly prices.
- Basic – $8/mo
- Premium – $25/mo
- Premium Plus – $47/mo
You can also use the coupon code ‘ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES’ to save 25% on a subscription.
Although we haven’t yet tried SwahiliPod101, given how similar the courses are for all the other languages we’ve tried, this review should give you an accurate representation of what to expect.
It’s a useful resource, especially when it comes to getting extra listening practice. However, I’d avoid using it as your only resource.
In order to make sure your studies are structured well, you’ll want to use it alongside a textbook or a more linearly structured course. Otherwise, you may find yourself skipping over some important information.
While it’s far from a perfect resource, SwahiliPod101offers a lot of value at an affordable price. If you think it may be a good fit for you, I’d suggest trying out their 7-day trial.