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How to Learn Zulu

Last Updated: November 25, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Jennifer Mueller is a wikiHow Content Creator. She specializes in reviewing, fact-checking, and evaluating wikiHow's content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. Jennifer holds a JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 26,923 times. Learn more...

Zulu is one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, spoken primarily in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. You'll also find some of the 12 million Zulu speakers in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. There are more than 16 million others who speak Zulu as a second or additional language. If you want to become one of them, start by getting your pronunciation right and learning a little bit of Zulu grammar. Once you have a handle on the basic form and structure of the language, you'll be well on your way to having full conversations in Zulu. Ngikufisela iwela! (Good luck!) [1] X Research source

Pronouncing Zulu Words

Step 1 Start by learning how to pronounce Zulu vowels.

  • The letter "a" makes an "ah" sound, similar to the "a" in the English word "father."
  • The letter "e" makes an "eh" sound, similar to the "e" in the English word "egg."
  • The letter "i" makes an "ih" sound, similar to the "i" in the English word "inn."
  • The letter "o" makes an "oh" sound, similar to the "o" in the English word "no," but more rounded.
  • The letter "u" makes an "oo" sound, similar to the "oo" in the English word "boot."

Tip: The letters "y" and "w" are considered semi-vowels in Zulu. "Y" sounds like the "y" in the English word "yes," while "w" sounds like the "w" in the English word "well."

Step 2 Add consonants that are pronounced the same in Zulu as in English.

  • The letter "g" always makes a hard sound, like the "g" in the English word "golf," but never a soft sound, like the "g" in the English word "gentle."
  • The letter "k" in Zulu is softer than the English "k," making a sound somewhere in between an English "k" and an English hard "g."

Step 3 Move on to consonant combinations and blends.

  • "Bh" makes a hard "b" sound, similar to the "b" in the English word "bed."
  • "Dl" is a combination of a hard "d" and a hard "l" sound that doesn't exist in English. To pronounce these letters correctly, practice saying the word "deliver" so fast that the "e" in the first syllable disappears.
  • Similarly, the "hl" combination doesn't exist in English. Practice with the word "holiday," again saying the word fast enough that the first vowel disappears.
  • The "kl" combination is a hard "k" and a hard "l" combined, a sound that comes from the back of your throat, almost like the sound of clearing your throat.
  • "Ng" is pronounced like the "ng" in the English word "linger."
  • "Ph" is a hard "p" as in the English word "put" with an exhalation after. It is never pronounced like the "ph" in the English word "phone." Similarly, "th" is a hard "t" sound with an exhalation after.
  • "Sh" is pronounced like the "sh" in the English word "should." However, "tsh" is pronounced more like the "ch" in the English word "cheek."

Step 4 Practice the Zulu clicks.

  • To make the "c" click, place the tip of your tongue against the back of your teeth and snap it back, similarly to the way you might "tsk tsk" at someone disapprovingly.
  • To make the "x" click, smack the side of your tongue off your molars. You can make this sound out of either side or both sides of your mouth. This is similar to the sound you might make to call an animal to come to you.
  • To make the "q" click, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and then snap it back sharply, making a loud popping sound.

Tip: The clicks are perhaps the most important thing to get down if you want to pronounce Zulu words correctly. Practicing with a native speaker is the best way to make sure you're doing them correctly.

Understanding Zulu Grammar

Step 1 Use subject-verb-object word order.

  • The collapse of the subject into the verb is similar to Spanish in that you don't need to say a pronoun separately. For example, if you wanted to say "I want" in Zulu, you would say "ngifuna."

Step 2 Recognize the different classes of nouns.

  • Classes 1 and 2 refer to people. Specifically, class 1 is used to refer to a single person, while class 2 is the plural. Class 1 takes the prefix "-um," so, for example, if you see the word "umZulu" and you recognize the prefix, you know that this word refers to a Zulu person.
  • Classes 3 and 4 refer to fruits, body parts, and rivers, with class 3 being singular and class 4 being plural.
  • Class 7 includes objects and also languages. The prefix for class 7 is "-isi," which is why you'll see the Zulu language referred to in Zulu as "isiZulu."

Tip: Proper nouns in Zulu can take prefixes. The proper noun is capitalized, but not the prefix, as in "isiZulu," unless the word is written at the beginning of a sentence. Then, both the prefix and the proper noun are capitalized.

Step 3 Place adjectives after the noun they modify.

  • For example, the Zulu word for "dog" is "inja" and the word for "big" is "enkulu." Therefore, if you wanted to talk about a big dog, you would talk about an "inja enkulu."
  • Possessive pronouns and demonstratives (in English, words such as "this," "that," "these," and "those") also go after the noun they modify in Zulu.

Step 4 Add an

  • If you negate a verb in the present tense, the vowel at the end of the verb also changes from "a" to "i." For example, "ngifuna" (I want) changes to "angifuni" (I do not want).

Step 5 Include

  • For example, the pronoun prefix for "I" is "ngi." The verb "funa" means want, so "ngifuna" is "I want." If you add a "-ya-" and say "ngiyafuna," you are saying "I am wanting." This refers to a continuous state of want.
  • Also use this format when you're talking about an action that you're in the middle of, or that hasn't been completed yet. For example, if someone asked you what you were doing and you were in the middle of reading a book, you could reply "Ngiyafunda," which means "I am reading."

Building Your Vocabulary

Step 1 Label objects around your home with Zulu words.

  • Once you've learned the first objects you've labeled, move on to other objects. It's also a good idea to repeat the ones you've learned occasionally so you don't forget them in the meantime.
  • Language learning websites often have vocabulary lists you can use. The language materials for the US Peace Corps, available for free on the Live Lingua website, have long lists of nouns that you can use.

Tip: You can also use similar labeling to learn other Zulu words beyond the noun for the object itself. Once you have the object names down, move on to colors, materials, and other adjectives that can be used to describe the objects.

Step 2 Listen to Zulu music to become more familiar with the language.

  • You shouldn't have to look too hard to find Zulu music. The group Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a global sensation, with many albums available wherever you buy or stream music.
  • If you're familiar with the Disney movie "The Lion King," you already know a little Zulu, courtesy of the chant at the opening of the song "The Circle of Life." If you can find the Zulu dub of the movie, you can also enjoy the only Disney movie ever dubbed in a native African language. [13] X Research source

Step 3 Practice your Zulu by chatting online with native speakers.

  • Some language exchange sites are free, while others charge a monthly subscription. The subscription sites typically have additional features that aren't available on the free sites, such as the ability to video chat or have group chats with several people.
  • When using a language exchange site, observe the same precautions you would any time you talk to a stranger online. Protect your privacy and the privacy of your family by not sharing too much personal information with your language partners.

Step 4 Take a trip to South Africa to immerse yourself in the language.

  • While this area is predominantly rural and doesn't get many tourists, there are several premier nature preserves where you can go on safari. You also get the opportunity to explore Zulu culture in its natural setting.
  • In more rural areas, you'll have more difficulty finding Zulu-speakers who also speak English, which will force you to rely on your knowledge and understanding of Zulu to get around.

Expert Q&A

You Might Also Like

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  • ↑ https://www.listenandlearnaustralia.com.au/blog/learn-ins-outs-zulu/
  • ↑ https://www.livelingua.com/course/peace-corps/Zulu_Language_Lessons/
  • ↑ http://mylanguages.org/zulu_alphabet.php
  • ↑ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/215896397_Zulu_noun_classes_revisited_A_spoken_corpus-based_approach
  • ↑ https://blog.esl-languages.com/blog/learn-languages/5-reasons-to-learn-a-language-through-music/
  • ↑ https://stories.wimp.com/heres-how-to-sing-circle-of-life-from-the-lion-king/
  • ↑ https://www.mylanguageexchange.com/Learn/Zulu.asp
  • ↑ https://blog.goway.com/globetrotting/inheritance-zululand-south-africa/

About This Article

Jennifer Mueller, JD

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English to Zulu Meaning of assignment - isabelo

assignment in zulu

for ASSIGNMENT ,

assignment in zulu

I'm waiting for word on an ASSIGNMENT that will take me far away from the capital.

assignment in zulu

who got a check-plus on her first homework ASSIGNMENT ...

Meaning and definitions of assignment, translation in Zulu language for assignment with similar and opposite words. Also find spoken pronunciation of assignment in Zulu and in English language.

What assignment means in Zulu, assignment meaning in Zulu, assignment definition, examples and pronunciation of assignment in Zulu language.

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assignment in Zulu:

Other words beginning with "a", assignment in other dictionaries.

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Assignment  (English) Translated to Zulu as isabelo

Assignment in more languages.

  • in Arabic التعيين
  • in Hausa aiki
  • in Hebrew הקצאה
  • in Maltese assenjament
  • in Somali meeleynta
  • in Swahili kazi
  • in Yoruba iṣẹ-ṣiṣe
  • in Amharic የሥራ ምድብ
  • in Chichewa ntchito
  • in Sesotho kabelo

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assignment in zulu

Assignment in English. Assignment Meaning and Translation from Zulu

  • conservationis sui
  • degeneratum
  • male intelligitur
  • media quaestio

zulumites

  • Understanding the ZuluMites Methodology
  • Learning a language

assignment in zulu

We are often asked why our ZuluMites teachers only speak Zulu to the children. Through both extensive research, and based on our own experience, we know that a complete immersion in the target language to be the most effective way to learn language for the following reasons:

Functional Language Ability

ZuluMites is focused on developing functional language ability. We believe that children will only use the language if they develop an identity and a sense of ownership of the language. We do not see any value in the rote learning of vocabulary that has no context, and cannot be used by the child. By speaking only in Zulu, the child is exposed to vocabulary in its correct context; as part of a full Zulu sentence. This enables the child to grasp the rhythm, tone and pitch of the language in context.

Obviously our sentences are modified to slow, simplified speech, combined with actions and visual cues in the early stages of learning (much like someone would acquire their first language). There is also much repetition of these sentences across contexts, so children get familiar with sentence structure and are sensitive to the minor changes as they happen: i.e. “I jump, you jump, we jump” “I sit, you sit, we sit” Throughout our programme, they are seeing real life settings in which they can use their Zulu ability and grow in speaking confidence (because they have to) instead of simply learning a list of words for no reason, or learning grammar structures of sentences they cannot yet construct themselves.

The Child’s Ability

A child’s brain is more than capable of making language associations and meaning from a complete immersion environment, and we do our children a disservice thinking that they need everything to be explained to them, or that they cannot function in the world unless they understand everything around them. This is certainly not the case when children learn their first language, nor is it true when acquiring second and third languages. When we give space for children to connect songs to words, and for their brains to work things out for themselves, we ensure they will both use and remember the vocabulary in the future.

ZuluMites uses songs, games, actions, pictures, visual objects, repetition and routine to ensure that all the scaffolding is in place for connections to be made in a child’s brain and for them to recall and remember useful vocabulary. You do not need to explain that “Ngi” means “I” in a sentence, because when you point to yourself and say “Ngi” – this is adequate association for a child’s brain to make the connection for itself.

Although learning a new language is mentally taxing, and none of us like the feeling of discomfort or being lost, it is a vital step towards inherent motivation (ask anyone who has ever travelled to a foreign country and needed to buy their own dinner). In order to progress, a season of not being able to understand or communicate effectively must be endured. This uncomfortable state is where real learning takes place – when the child is forced to draw deeply on what they know, to look for clues, and to make educated assumptions about what is being said. This is a very good skill, not just for language learning but for general mental and cognitive development.

Dominance of Zulu language and Culture

It is natural for the English children to want to speak English to their teacher and to each other, as this is the language they are most comfortable in and takes the least amount of effort. But by allowing English to take precedence in the Zulu classroom, we are perpetuating the idea that English is the more dominant language in any setting.

We believe that it is the role of the Zulu teacher to push back on that dominance and promote the learning of his/her language as equally valuable and necessary for the students. By using English in the classroom, we inforce the belief that Zulu is of no great importance or use, and is merely a subject of academic interest – because Zulu people will speak to you in English anyway.

Only by speaking Zulu in the class can the children be convinced that the language is of value, both culturally and functionally, and should therefore be respected, and an effort made to attain it.

By creating a Zulu-only environment, and discouraging the use of English, children are forced to struggle through the process of communicating in the target language which is a key step in developing functional ability. Without this necessity, a child is simply unmotivated to learn the language. The brain is highly efficient, and will not retain information it does not have to (a prime example of this would be the fact that people no longer remember cell phone numbers from memory, because our brains know that we are seldom without our cell phones and our contacts).

By creating a “forced necessity” we are communicating to our brains to stay engaged in the class, retain information, manipulate it accordingly and respond appropriately. This kind of necessity does not come from an English speaking environment, and instead must be deliberately constructed by the Zulu teacher. This will mean that communication is mostly ‘one-way’ (teacher to child) in the early stages, but through persistence the child will developsuperior language ability compared to those taught using English, as research suggests. One of the main reasons that South African schools have been unsuccessful in teaching children to speak Zulu is because they are using English to teach it, and not providing this necessity to speak.

Time in the language

Another reason why children are not acquiring Zulu (or any other) language is that there is not sufficient time exposed to that language. Research supports that children require enough exposure to a language before they can become proficient to a certain level; but if we are using our class time with a dedicated Zulu speaker to explain things in English, we are dwindling our already slim exposure to Zulu down even further. If in a 30 min lesson, a child actually hears 30 min of only isiZulu, they will acquire the language much faster and with more competence than a child who, in a 30 min Zulu lesson, only hears 10 words of Zulu amongst predominantly English sentences.

The ZuluMites methodology is radically different to the Zulu teaching happening in most schools in South Africa today, because it is results-driven.

Our Zulu-only teaching environment is our significant value-add, going against the traditional way of teaching second languages that has been ineffective over the years. We can assure parents, that while our approach is so different, it is coupled with fun and energy, delivered by specially trained Zulu teachers, who take pride in their language and culture and pass that passion onto their students.

When it comes to language, ZuluMites is based on the philosophy that language is part of life and cannot be taught in isolation. By combining language learning with an activity, it is both more memorable and more fun! By giving children a reason to speak the language and an environment where they can use it is, we believe, the best classroom model for teaching language. We make learning isiZulu accessible, fun and practical, with a focus on younger learners. Our methodology leverages high teacher to student ratio, native speakers, a full immersion environment, and a practical activities-based curriculum that we have developed ourselves.

Should you have any further questions about our methodology, please do not hesitate to be in touch.

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A Guide to Zulu Culture, Traditions, and Cuisine

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Zulu Culture zulu youths

Planning a trip to South Africa? Make sure to learn about the Zulu people native to the South African region. Understand the culture of the people to enrich your Africa holiday with an immersive experience. Get up close with the local communities, participate in their traditions, and enjoy dancing the Zulu way!

So here is a lowdown on the famous Zulu people of South Africa who have the unique distinction of having featured in the pages of history for their military achievements.

Zulus – the warrior tribe of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Known for their military exploits in the 19 th century and their long drawn-out war against the British supremacy, the Zulus are the soul of South Africa. Their roots lie in the Nguni community of Central Africa that migrated southwards along the East Coast. They merged with local communities to be a part of the largest ethnic group of South Africa, the Bantus. This built the foundations of a powerful kingdom – the Kwa-Zulu Natal or “homeland of the Zulu people.”  The Zulus singularly changed the history and cultural dominance of South Africa. Even as several ethnic groups across Africa, foreigners from Europe and India chose to make the region their home, the Zulu remain the main ethnic people.

Today, although the Zulus live mostly in the Kwa-Zulu Natal, you will come across their presence in other parts of Africa like Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia. So expect to hear their isiZulu dialect during your Africa excursions. Invariably your safari guide or driver will be a Zulu. So you must know that the Zulu people take pride in their distinctive heritage, despite close ethnic, linguistic and cultural ties with the Swazi and Xhos tribes. After all, they are the “people of the heavens”!

Culture of the Zulu people

The Zulus like to assert their might, beginning with the exercise of authority within their households. Men play the dominant role by taking care of the cattle, their wives, and the family; while the women take care of children, the hearth and the all-important beer-making. While men stick to the tradition of sitting on a hide or the shield as a mark of pride in their warfare ability, boys are introduced to their warrior heritage with stick-fighting at an early age.

Zulu Culture bead bracelets

The Zulu beadwork is an essential part of their cultural fabric. Beads are used as a form of communication and symbolism, with varying shapes and colors to connote different meanings. For instance, the direction of the tip in a triangular bead signifies whether a boy or girl is married.  So a married woman will wear beads fashioned with two triangles put together in a diamond shape, the fertility symbol of the Zulu community. Whereas married men wear beadwork with the two tips of triangles to form an hourglass shape. Beads are of seven colors, with each color representing emotions, spirituality and status in society. So you can expect to see single women adorning beadwork in white, representing purity; while a Zulu male wearing green beadwork shows contentment. The use of colour codes and shapes of beadwork are unique to the Zulu culture and societal norms. So the next time you are in a local market, think twice before buying a piece of beadwork. You may pick the wrong one and have men chasing you thinking you are available!

Zulu dances, a reflection of societal beliefs and warrior traditions

Zulu Culture south africa

Drums are an essential part of Zulu celebrations, usually accompanied by dancing and chanting. The ingungu drum finds use in every traditional ritual and celebration, be it the onset of womanhood or a marriage ceremony. The dances in Zulu culture are thus found to celebrate significant moments of life. Every special occasion has a dance dedicated to mark the moment. The hunting dance using the spear aims at providing warriors courage before they venture out to hunt. Another dance uses a small shield to mark military unity amongst the men and is performed only on royal occasions. The Indlamu is another traditional war dance featuring two dancers stomping hard to the beats of drums, carried out at weddings. The Reed dance is a unique annual event where only unmarried girls dance holding a long reed above their heads.

Zulu traditions – an integral fabric of the Zulu society

Zulu Culture woman

As in any ancient culture, the Zulu culture is also based on spirituality and the power of ancestors. They are remembered throughout the passage of life – at birth, puberty, marriage and death. The Zulus have several rituals that pay homage to the soul of the departed and invoke their blessings. Herbs and animal sacrifice are commonly used to appease ancestral spirits.

Social disputes take on a warrior mode within the Zulu community. Duels are fought until the flow of blood decides the winner. This is yet another way that the Zulu people keep their warrior legacy

The Zulu attire – an expression of traditionalism and sustainability

The Zulu people like to dress minimally, just as they continue to live simple lives even in the 21 st century. Their choice of attire reflects their traditional ethos as well as their dependence upon nature. The attire of women symbolizes the age, marital status and eligibility of a girl. While a young girl sports short hair and wears short skirts of grass and beaded strings to show her single status and eligibility, the colors of the beads take on different hues as she progresses through womanhood and engagement. Once engaged, the Zulu woman covers her body and grows her hair as a mark of respect to her future in-laws, exhibiting her status of being engaged. Married women cover themselves with heavy knee-length cowhide skirts and wear hats.

Men use their attire and accessories to indicate their military prowess. This usually includes a warrior headband, worn only by married men. Regular attire uses animal skin and feather to cover various parts of the body, albeit minimally. The skin used is symbolic of the social status of the Zulu man. For instance, the skin of a leopard is used only by the royal family or tribal heads. While the amambatha covers shoulders; the ibheshu , injobo and isinene cover the lower half.

Zulu cuisine

The cuisine of the Zulu tribe mirrors their rich history and culture. Despite their lives in the midst of wilderness and wildlife, the Zulus usually have vegetarian food comprising of grains and vegetables. Animals like the ox are only slaughtered as sacrifice on special occasions. Maize and sorghum based pap traditional African porridge, beer and fermented milk; are integral to every Zulu household. Food portions of meat dishes mirror the age and social status of the men.

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