Introductory Shona Language - Other Resources
lesson 1 lesson 3 solutions
lesson 2 lesson 4 other shona resources

Other Shona resources: Internet Printed Other

There are three sections: Internet, Printed, and Other (eg audio and courses).
I have limited this to resources I have tried myself or which someone else has commented on.
Please keep up the suggestions coming.  Reviews of books especially are welcome.



Checked 4/12/04

A great online language database with details about where languages and their dialects are spoken, and by who.
Human Languages Page  

Checked 4/12/04

This site doesn't have anything for Shona but has a lot of useful sites for other languages.
Martin Shumba's Shona Language  

Checked 4/12/04

A small but growing Shona page which includes a searchable dictionary.
'Online' Shona Dictionary

Checked 4/12/04

This is part of a large site with dictionaries of all languages. It has an MS-Word or plain text version of Hannan's 'Standard Shona Dictionary' (see below) available for download - cumbersome but useful. Unfortunately the download is only of the first half of the dictionary, up to 'M'.
Shona Language Profile

Checked 06/04/13

Shona page at University of California Language Materials Project

Shona verb conjugator

Checked 4/12/04

A free service - type in a Shona verb stem (such as 'enda') and it will go through all the main tenses, as well as suggesting english translations. A good way to check your grammar.
Note: the site prompts you to 'fill in the infinitive' (such as 'kuenda') - this is incorrect, it means fill in the stem (such as 'enda').

Checked 4/12/04

This is the shona section of a commercial site retailing language products and services. It has a sample piece of shona text and describes the courses and software it sells. If anyone tries these out, please let me know what you think of them.
Yale Africa Guide Interactive

Checked 4/12/04

This is part of a wide-ranging travel guide site. So far it only has a few links.

Duramazwi RechiShona

Checked 4/12/04

An online Shona-Shona dictionary. That is, the explanations for shona words, given in Shona. - Shona Vocabulary Online

Checked 4/12/04

Innovative vocabulary tutor - each day it randomly provides a set of nouns, verbs, adjectives etc for you to learn. Then there is the opportunity to take an online test on what you have just learnt.

Understanding the Language Arts

Checked 06/04/13

US Teaching Centre for generic language and expressive skills.



I have stuck to in print books here, but there are several good out-of-print ones: snap them up if you come across them.  Many are only easily available within Zimbabwe but it may be worth requesting a local bookshop to try and order them from the Zim publishers - although given the continuing uncertainty in Zimbabwean economy and politics they may have other things on their minds at the moment.

If you live in the UK the Africa Book Centre in London has most of the titles below. If you don't live in the UK, they should be able to post your order to you. They now have an online store, or you can use the followin contact details:

postal address: Africa Book Centre, 38 King Street, London WC2E 8JT, United Kingdom

Learning Shona
Dambudzo Ruzhowa
Available online

A good, simple introduction. Not as comprehensive as the Mawadza book but explains concepts in a more step-by-step fashion.

MunaHacha Maive Nei?
Masimba Musodza
Available online
ISBN: 1470165821

UK based Zimbabwean author, Masimba Musodza, has ushered in a new era in Zimbabwean literature by publishing the definitive first science-fiction/horror novel in ChiShona. This book, available on Amazon, weaves issues of greed & corruption, sustainable developement, international corporate intrigue and concerns around bio-technology. Chemicals from a research station conducting illegal experiments begin to seep in to the local ecosystem, causing mutations in the flora and fauna. When a child is attacked by a giant fish, the villagers think it is an afronted mermaid-traditional custodian of the ecology- and seek to appease it according to the prescription of folk-lore. However, the reality of what is happening soon becomes evident, a reality more terrifying than any legend or belief.

Shona Dictionary and Phrasebook
Aquilina Mawadza, May 2000
Available online
ISBN: 0781808138

This is the first book I have come across that should be readily available outside of Zimbabwe. It contains a dense but quite comprehensive grammar as well as modern vocabulary.
Full title: Shona-English/English-Shona Dictionary and Phrasebook : A Language of Zimbabwe Chishona Dialect

Shona Mini - Companion
Desmond Dale       
Zim only
This is a small but quite comprehensive introductory text.  It covers a lot of grammar but is not very user-friendly: it would be useful as a reference if you were in Zim and could practise what you read in it.
Shona Companion
Desmond Dale 
I have seen this in UK bookstores 
A larger 'sequel' to the above book. It is pretty comprehensive.  I would not recommend it as an introductory text: it might scare you off!  But if you already know another Bantu language (eg Swahili, Zulu) it might not be so bad.
Fambai Zvakanaka muZimbabwe 
(Have a nice day in Zimbabwe)
I have seen this in UK bookstores
An excellent 'quick-start' to the language which brings in useful phrases from the start, without ignoring grammar.  This little booklet is very cheap and a must-buy if you are in Zimbabwe for any length of time.  Pity its not available elsewhere.

Standard Shona Dictionary
M. Hannan 
May be out of print

The most comprehensive Shona-English dictionary I know of.  An 'online' version is available (see 'Internet' section above). But its rather out-of-date and far too big to lug around if you are travelling.  For that, see below.
Shona-English Dictionary
D. Dale, 1981 
Zim only
Cheap and light, though not totally up-to-date, this dictionary has useful illustrations and example uses of words. Proper title: Dura Mazwi
English-Shona Dictionary
D. Dale, 1975
Zim only
Companion to the above, separate volume, in similar format.



This is a 'catch-all' section.  So far it is almost empty, but I want to put in it:
-audio resources such as CDs, tapes and internet/wireless radio stations.
-Instruction courses which are open to the general public (ie. excluding those taught as part of formal degrees).

Shona Lessons included in Curriculum 
African Community School, Buckingamshire, UK
Visit their site at  African Community School, 381 Acorn House, Midsummer Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes MK9 3HP, United Kingdom
Shona Basic Course 
Matthew Matarayika, 1998
ISBN: 158214043X
Book and Tapes
A product I have seen on  It looks pretty intensive, and it is not cheap at $184.00, so I would recommend trying to find a copy you can have a look at in a bookstore before buying.
Boston Language Institute Shona Course Intensive Shona language courses which appear to be aimed at practical usage. Website selling World Music, including many Zimbabwean artists singing in Shona. Website includes online audio clips.
Michigan State University African Languages Page Offers Shona courses. I haven't linked to them directly in case they become outdated, but this is the starter page.
SOAS Evening Class in Shona London, UK: School of Oriental and African Languages (a university), is offering a one year evening class in Shona language.

Ndau primer (166Kb)

Zip file of Word documents

An introductory course in Portuguese to the Ndau language, related to Shona. For the moment I suggest using one of the free online translation services such as to translate the tutorial into your language. However my Portuguese is fair and if I receive enough emails indicating interest I may consider translating the first few lessons into english and adding them to this site.

© Copyright note: I have no idea who prepared this primer - but please don't abuse their copyright. If anyone does know who prepared it please inform me so I can credit them.

Introductory Shona Language

© Cameron Smith 2004-2013 - feel free to copy as long as its not for profit

Please email me at: if you have any comments, suggestions, or complaints about this page.