Shona Learning Resources

There are plenty of Shona learning resources available through the UW-Madison Libraries as well as the pedagogy library at the ACS Department, Van Hise.  There is also a lot of material online.

Examples of Online Resources include:

  1. Foreign Service Institute Shona Basic Course

While you can get this great resource in hard copy at the university’s libraries (Memorial Library and the ACS department’s pedagogy library), the online version is better since it comes with audio records of native Shona speakers, and you can practice pronunciation. You can get the online version at

2. OLAC resources in and about the Shona language

These are resources under the Open Language Archives Community (OLAC) can be accessed at This rich archive includes primary texts such as the Shona Bible, lexical resources like dictionaries and languages descriptions where you can access linguistic analyses, grammars, etc.

3. YouTube channels 

There are several YouTube channels dedicated to learners of chiShona. For pronunciation, the Shona Tutor channel has a good introductory video that is good for practise at  Another good channel is Ndawana and Friends at where there are several topical videos.

4. News media in chiShona

There are online media resources such as VOA Studio 7 radio at, VOA Shona TV at, and online newspapers like Kwayedza at


This site has several materials on Shona language. You can get a list of common phrases at The Shona alphabet and sample audio-visual text can be accessed at

6. Online dictionaries

There are several online dictionaries such as You can search vocabulary on this online dictionary and some of it is accompanied by audio by native speakers. Another searchable online dictionary is available at

7. wikiHow is an excellent resource for a beginner. It gives a snapshot of the language, pronunciation, having basic conversations, and tips on expanding vocabulary.

8. Universe of Memory

You might need a website that has a list of a number of websites that will come in handy as you study chiShona, some of which we have already listed here and more. is an excellent database of links with resources on chiShona.


Though there are numerous ads on this website that can be both annoying and distraction, once you close them, you will find that is an excellent resource for vocabulary, grammar and a bonus on tips to learn a new language that might work for you.

Useful texts on chiShona

There are many library texts such as:

  • Berlyn, Phillippa. Easy Steps to Conversational Shona. Philips Rhodesian (PVT), 1980.

This small text is organized into 49 single-page lessons and focuses more on grammar than conversation

  • Carter, Hazel. The Shona Language course, Books I, II and III. African Studies Program, University of Wisconsin, 1986.

This text consists of three sections. Book 1 should be used with the audio which unfortunately wasn’t available at the library. Book 2 has grammatical notes and references to be used with Book 1 and a list of Shona-English and English-Shona vocabulary. Book 3 consists of exercises and supplementary vocabulary.

  • Hannan, M. and Literature Bureau. Standard Shona Dictionary. College Press Publishers, 1963.

This Shona-English dictionary was first published in 1959 but has several editions and reprints. The short preface with class prefixes, concords and verb forms is a great resource for reference. The high and low tones indicated after every entry are helpful as Shona is a tonal language. Noun classes are also indicated among other information. There are several copies in the ACS pedagogy library at Van Hise.

  • Jamali. Peter, et al. Shona Learners’ Reference Grammar. National African Languages Resource Center, 2005.

This grammar book is a supplement when the learner needs more material about the structure of the language, mainly on parts of speech and a bit about syntax.

  • Mawadza, Aquilina. Shona-English English-Shona (chiShona) Dictionary and Phrasebook.                 Hippocrene Books, Inc, 2000.

This small book is a dynamo. It begins with the Shona alphabet and a pronunciation guide, followed by a note on syllables. There are some brief notes on grammar, followed by a Shona-English dictionary. The phrase-book section is organized in domains such as etiquette, introductions, travel and transportation, etc. It is a reference book; you can only use it in the library (Memorial).

  • Munjanja, Amos, M. Everyday Shona and English. Write and Read Publications, 1987.

This book has 15 chapters organized in various aspects of day-to-day communication such as greetings, time and directions.

Resources that address Shona culture

  1. Bourdillon, M. F. C. The Shona Peoples: An Ethnography of the Contemporary Shona, with Special Reference to Their Religion. Mambo Press, 1987.

This book traces the history of the Shona people from the 15th century onwards. The author did ethnographic research that addressed different facets of the lives of the Shona people.

2.  Chitakure, John. Shona Women in Zimbabwe-A Purchased People? Marriage, Bridewealth, Domestic Violence, and the Christian Traditions on Women. Pickwick Publications, 2016.

This book addresses the cultural practice of bride wealth and how it contributes to gender-based violence among the Shona. It addresses patriarchy in the Shona society and would also be an excellent resource for anybody studying gender and women studies among the Shona.

3. at provides information such as economy, kinship, marriage and family and sociopolitical organization among the Shona.

4. Gelfand, Michael. The Genuine Shona: Survival Values of An African Culture. Mambo Press, 1973. Also available at

This is a rich resource on Shona culture. It addresses manners, behavior, the household, ethics and morality among other topics.

5.  has a page on Shona culture. For those interested in faith matters – God and the spirits, this is an excellent resource at

6. Tatira, Liveson. The Shona Culture: The Shona People’s Culture. Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010.

This book traces the origin of the Shona people as well as their culture. It also addresses how Shona culture has evolved over the years.

7. is an excellent site with a page on Shona culture, their history, daily life. culture and religion are some of the topics explored at




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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.