Chitumbuka Language Manual

Client: U.S. Peace Corps Date: August 2, 2008 Category: , View Project


I took it upon myself to develop a Chitumbuka language resource that could be provided to volunteers and trainees to support their language education and be a reference for them later.


As a volunteer in training, I was taught Chitumbuka while living in central Malawi where they spoke Chichewa, the national language, instead. The materials we were taught with used modified Chichewa, rather than true Chitumbuka. Our most reliable resource for accurate Chitumbuka was a dated dictionary, written in the fifties by a priest.

My Role

  • Design Researcher
  • Project Book Developer

A Shrinking Language

Less than a million people still speak Chitumuka.

A Prototype

The first step was to re-write my notes into a more legible format. This would make it easier to see what is missing, and also validate my assumptions regarding interest level.

Audience Input

I worked with fellow volunteers to determine the types of content that should be included. This helped me move away from a simple dictionary to include more phrases and grammar.

Subject Matter Experts

Engaging my fellow teachers and Peace Corps language trainers, we refined the content for accuracy, in accordance with our local dialect.

Open Source Reference

There is no one true Chitumbuka language, rather many slight variants, and so I decided to keep this document open. It is available as an editable, ubiquitous Microsoft Office .doc file, with the hopes that future volunteers will use and update it according to their needs.

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