Map 2: Colonial Languages

Map 2 (found below) shows languages that were introduced to Africa when Africa was colonized by European countries. During this time, several European countries took control of territories in Africa that they claimed for themselves. Some regions had more than one European country that claimed them at various points in history. As a result, European languages, or colonial languages, became the official language(s) in most Africa countries. While this remains the case even today, most Africans speak indigenous African languages as a first language and colonial languages are generally spoken as a second or third language. Often schools are instructed in European languages, and official government business is conducted using European languages.

The interaction of colonial languages and African speakers created new African uses of these European, or colonial, languages. Ghanaian English, for example, includes words and phrases unique to Ghana, as Ghanaians have taken English and made it their own. In some cases, hybrid languages, such as pidgin or Creole, grew out of the meeting of African and European languages.

Use the map below to answer the following questions on colonial languages in Africa.

Colonial Languages Map

1. How many countries have more than one colonial language listed for them? Can you name any of these countries?

2. What are the six European languages that are colonial languages of Africa?

3. Do you know what language family these European languages belong to? If not, how would you find out?

Return to Activity Two or go on to Activity Three