Hausa Language Study at UCLA

UCLA offers Hausa language courses from elementary through advanced levels. The professor in charge of Hausa language instruction is Russell G. Schuh. The Hausa program at UCLA features a number of innovative approaches to language teaching including computerized instructional material, extensive use of video created especially for Hausa, learning about the language through recorded music, board games, and, a Hausa web site.

For Academic Year 2004-2005 UCLA will be able to offer only elementary Hausa.


Who are the Hausas and why study Hausa?

Hausa has more native speakers than any other language in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 22 million native speakers, plus an additional 17 million second language speakers. The main Hausa speaking area is northern Nigeria and Niger, but Hausa is also widely spoken in northern Ghana and northern Cameroon, and there are large Hausa communities in every major West African city. Most Hausa speakers are Muslims, and Hausa is often a lingua franca among Muslims in non-Hausa areas.

There is a large and growing printed literature in Hausa, which includes novels, poetry, plays, instruction in Islamic practice, books on development issues, newspapers, news magazines, and even technical academic works. Radio and television broadcasting in Hausa is ubiquitous in northern Nigeria and Niger, and radio stations in Ghana and Cameroon have regular Hausa broadcasts, as do international broadcasters such as the BBC, VOA, Deutsche Welle, Radio Moscow, Radio Beijing, and others. Hausa is used as the language of instruction at the elementary level in schools in northern Nigeria, and Hausa is available as course of study in northern Nigerian universities.

In terms of sheer numbers, Hausa thus ranks as one of the world's major languages, and its widespread use in a number of countries of West Africa makes it probably the single most useful language to know in that region. Hausa's rich poetic, prose, and musical literature, more and more of which is now available in print and in audio and video recordings, makes it a rewarding area of study for those who reach an advanced level.

Aside from the inherent interest of Hausa language and its literature, the study of Hausa provides perhaps the most informative entree into the world of Islamic West Africa. Throughout West Africa, there is a strong connection between Hausa and Islam. The influence of Hausa language on the languages of many non-Hausa Islamic people in West African is readily apparent. Likewise, many Hausa cultural practices, including such overt features as dress and food, are shared by other Islamic communities. Because of the dominant position which Hausa language and culture have long held, the study of Hausa provides crucial background for other areas such as West African history, politics (particularly in Nigeria and Niger), gender studies, commerce, and the arts.


First Year Hausa

The first year Hausa class covers basic language skills and cultural knowledge which would allow a student to cope with most everyday situations in a Hausa-speaking area. Each lesson focuses on a particular feature of language (how to ask about and name objects, how to tell time, how to give simple commands, how to describe an ongoing activity, etc.) and a particular aspect of culture (family relations, Nigerian geography, travel, the layout of a Hausa home, buying goods in a market, etc.)

The first year class is structured around the following components:

In addition to the Hausar Baka videos and lesson, the following dictionary is recommended for students at the elementary level:

Nicholas Awde, Hausa-English/English-Hausa Practical Dictionary. New York: Hippocrene Books, Inc., 1996.

This is a basic dictionary which gives one or two word equivalents for each entry, with few examples or other types of explanation. It is satisfactory for looking up words in everyday use.

See also the dictionaries listed under Second Year Hausa.


Second Year Hausa

The second year class is organized around lessons each of which covers some aspect of Hausa culture or life in Hausa country. Each lesson consists of a packet of photocopied material for class discussion and homework. The lesson packets include vocabulary lists, proverbs and superstitions related to the topic, and readings on the topic. Lessons further segments from the Hausar Baka video series and lesson manual as well as readings from the book Hausar Yau da Kullum with accompanying video. Many lessons also include audio recordings of songs, radio interviews, etc. Lessons normally covered during the second year include

The second year class uses the following books:

William R. Leben, et al., Hausar Yau da Kullum. Stanford: CSLI Publications, 1991.

A set of cultural readings with accompanying video.

Paul Newman & Roxana Ma Newman, Modern Hausa-English Dictionary. Ibadan: Oxford University Press, 1977; Ibadan: University Press Limited, 1979.

A Hausa-English dictionary originally written for Hausa speakers, but useful up to the intermediate level for English speakers learning Hausa.

Roxana Ma Newman, An English-Hausa Dictionary. Newhaven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990.

By far the best English-Hausa dictionary.


Hausa Beyond the Second Year

Hausa classes beyond the second year are structured to fit the interests and abilities of the students. Generally, classes beyond the second year focus on more advanced reading. Courses over the past few years have done reading of the following types:

Other potential topics for an advanced class could include

At the advanced level, in addition to the reading material, which may be purchased, borrowed from the library, or photocopied as needed, students will need one of the large Hausa dictionaries:

R.C. Abraham, Dictionary of the Hausa Language, 2nd ed., London: University of London Press, 1962.

G.P. Bargery, A Hausa-English Dictionary and English-Hausa Vocabulary. London: Oxford University Press, 1934.