Mandla: Duolingo for African Languages

I love hearing about people who see a problem and build the solution. For a group of first-generation African immigrants in the US, the problem was learning their heritage languages, and the lack of resources to do so.

Their solution? An online (phone and web) platform to help people learn African languages, called Mandla. Their intuitive platform is open for beta testing (and officially set to launch this fall). Mandla functions similarly to Duolingo, with users learning vocabulary through interactive activities (with both written and audio elements).

Duolingo is one of the most popular language-learning applications, but it leaves much to be desired in terms of African languages. The only African language currently available on Duolingo is Kiswahili, Africa’s most widely-spoken language.

Mandla, on the other hand, offers lessons in 14 African languages (see chart below), making it the first platform of its kind.

LanguageSpoken InMandlaDuolingo
HausaNigeria, primarilyYes!No.
KassemGhana and Burkina FasoYes!No.
LingalaCongo (ROC+DRC), primarilyYes!No.
MooréBurkina FasoYes!No.
OromoEthiopia and KenyaYes!No.
SomaliSomalia, Ethiopia, and KenyaYes!No.
SwahiliTanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and more! Yes!Yes!
ZuluSouth AfricaYes!No.

I am really excited about this platform as a language-learning tool, and look forward to their official launch this fall!

PS. If you’re a fluent speaker of an African language, Mandla is looking for volunteers to join their team! Check out their website for more info.

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