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Bua Setswana Course

This course is aimed at beginners who want to learn to speak Setswana. The course aims to help students achieve a basic mastery of Setswana to allow them to communicate their basic needs and serve as a foundation on which to build their language skills.

The course is based on information from Nthati Phetlhu (Gaborone, Botswana)

Before starting, students should refer to the notes on Pronunciation

It is strongly recommended that the student learns by speaking with Batswana speakers at the earliest opportunity.


  1. greetings, useful phrases
  2. introducing yourself
  3. verbs - present tense including verbs "to have" and "to be"
  4. location including nouns ending in –ng
  5. simple sentences and linking words
  6. noun classes
  7. verbs - past tense
  8. times of day
  9. verb objects and conjunctives (joining words)
  10. possessives
  11. verbs - future tense
  12. verbs - past continuous tense
  13. numbers , days of the week
  14. human body , tribes
  15. adjectives
  16. comparatives
  17. shopping
  18. adverbs
  19. relative construct
  20. kinship terms
  21. demonstratives
  22. imperatives
  23. getting around
  24. climate

Reference/Revision Material

External Teaching Material

  • Booklet "First Steps in Spoken Setswana" published by Pula Press 1978
  • "Understanding Everyday Setswana" A vocabulary & reference book - Pam Wilken Published 1994 Maskew Miller Longman [1] ISBN 0-636-01871-7 or ISBN 978-0-636-01871-6 Ninety four pages of vocabulary and phrases sorted in sections (eg animals, clothing, emergency situations etc). No grammar.
  • CD "Learn Setswana" from Eurotalk This is really just a lot of vocabulary much of which has little relevance to life in Botswana. However you can at least listen to Setswana speakers pronouncing the words.
  • "Tswana for Beginners" JW Snyman, JC le Roux, M le Roux ISBN 0-86981-699-3 Published UNISA University of South Africa Pretoria 1991. 315 pages, with useful help on grammar.


  • Setswana-English-Setswana Dictionary (Macmillan Botswana) ISBN 99912-77-77-3 Compiled by Z I Matumo in 1993, based on previous dictionaries by Missionaires. The dictionary is 647 pages long and recommended for serious Setswana learners.
  • Thanodi ya Setswana - Longman ISBN 9991250549 or 9789991250540 - haven't seen this one but its listed here
  • Shuters Compact Setswana Dictionary (Shuter & Shooter) ISBN 0-7960-0639-3 Includes both singular and plural forms of nouns (eg "motho" and "batho") to assist learners. For "South African" Setswana rather than "Botswana" Setswana.


Other References

  • The Sound System of Setswana - Dept of African Languages and Literature - University of Botswana Published 1999 by Lightbooks, Gaborone. ISBN 99912-71-21-X
  • Structure of a Setswana Sentence