Zulu in Residence

Course: ZULU 140 680
Meetings: M 6pm
Credit: .5 CU
Program Description
Du Bois College House is committed to advancing the legacy of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois through programs that share knowledge and experience of people of African descent.  The Zulu in Residence program will expose students to the language and culture of the Zulu people of South Africa in a semi-formal and relaxed setting in Du Bois College House.  The program is designed to impart basic communicative skills and cultural nuances embedded in the use of the Zulu language. Unlike students of other world languages and cultures such as European languages which are easily accessible through various media and speech communities in this country, students interested in African languages and creoles spoken in the African diaspora face the challenge of cultural distance due to lack of exposure to these languages and cultures in their immediate environments.  The program will bridge this cultural gap by engaging students through movies, songs, pertinent museum experience, and cultural activities available on the internet. Students will also engage in hands-on activities to make and experience Zulu cultural products, e.g. Zulu food.  The program also will provide a space for students to make conscious linguistic and cultural comparisons between Zulu and other dialects of English and/or creoles spoken by people of African descent in the diaspora, e.g. features of Ebonics (African American Vernacular) that are similar to those of Zulu as well as some loan words from African languages into language varieties of the African diaspora such as “kata” (Jamaican Patois) and “inkatha” (Zulu) for a roll of cloth on top of the head to cushion the skull from the weight of a head load.  Students will perceive language varieties of the African diaspora as systematic and logical dialects with features that can be traced to African language systems.  There will also be discussions of the influence of the African diaspora on cultures in Africa, e.g. African-American influence on Zulu music.
Please note: students interested in this course community do not have to apply for this particular community; however, you will need to indicate Du Bois College House as your top housing interest when completing the housing application. 
The following 5Cs (adapted from the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning) will serve as goals of the program:
  • Students will learn communicative language skills through interpersonal, interpretive and presentational modes of language learning techniques.  
  • They will gain knowledge and understanding of the Zulu culture.  They will use their Zulu language and cultural experience to connect with Africana-related materials within disciplines of their interests.  And they will enhance their understanding of the African diaspora cultures through perspectives acquired from the Zulu program.  
  • They will also develop insight into the nature of language and culture through comparisons of the Zulu language and culture with their own language(s) and culture(s). 
  • Through movies, songs, and other cultural activities on YouTube, etc. students will learn cultural products and practices of the Zulu people and become life-long learners who can participate in the sharing of knowledge regarding people of African descent within their communities including at Penn. 


Dr. Audrey Mbeje, College House Fellow, W.E.B. Du Bois College House