From 13 June until 2 July 2022, BaSIS will organise a 3-week fieldschool for students from Leiden University and the University of Malawi, to gain hands-on experience in conducting linguistic fieldwork. In this Linguistics In Malawi Experience (LIME), up to 8 students from Leiden and 8 from Malawi will receive training from a combined team of instructors in linguistic fieldwork methodology (including recording techniques and database tools) as well as classes on information structure and the local linguistic environment of Malawi, a country where around 40 indigenous languages are spoken. After the training, students conduct their own linguistics research projects and elicit new data on a topic of their choice, with guidance from the instructors.

The research conducted during the LIME can form an excellent starting point for a BA or MA thesis!

Must | Students

For the very successful Linguistics in Kenya Experience (January 2020), see the LIKE page and this news report.


Are you enthusiastic, and are you…

  • … a Linguistics Master, ResMA, or advanced BA student at Leiden University, or you are a Linguistics Master student at the University of Malawi?
  • … confident with basic phonology, morphology, and (descriptive) syntax?
  • … interested in gathering your own linguistic data abroad, possibly for your BA or MA thesis?

Then this experience is for you!

If you want to join, please send a short motivation letter to Jenneke van der Wal (, including your linguistic background, your motivation to do the LIME, and, if you’re planning to apply to LUF (see below under ‘Finances’) also a plan of which documents you will submit for the application. Send the letter *before 23 February* in order to have enough time to receive feedback and submit the LUF application.

Programme (provisional)

Week 1 will consist of training sessions and time for students to prepare their own project and elicitation.

In weeks 2 and 3, students from Malawi and Leiden will team up and work with speakers of Ciyao, Chitumbuka, Chichewa, Chindali, Chitonga to elicit data for their projects. This involves storing recordings, entering data into the database, as well as analysis of the data and preparation for the next session. At the end of the LIME, students present their preliminary results.

Week 1 (13-17 June)

Day Time Activity Instructor(s)
Monday 08:30-9:00 Welcome
9:00-10:00 Icebreakers and introductions Atikonda Mkochi-Mtenje
10:00-10:20 Formulating LIME learning goals Jenneke van der Wal
10:20-10:40 Official launch
10:40-11:00 Chai
11:00-13:00 Structure of a language: Citumbuka Jean Chavula
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Setting up a research project tbd
15:30-16:00 Afternoon break
16:00-17:00 content topic tbd Maarten Mous
17:00 – Drinks
Tuesday 08:30-10:30 Phonology of Bantu languages Winfred Mkochi
10:30-11:00 Chai
11:00-13:00 Overviews of the LIME consultant languages that the students will work with All
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Recognising and transcribing tone tbd
15:30-16:00 Afternoon break
16:00-17:00 Independent study (Students work in groups on topic of choice, e.g. researching a language) All (mentor students)
Wednesday 08:30-10:30 Structure of a language: Morphosyntax of Ciyao Al Mtenje
10:30-11:00 Chai
11:00-13:00 Microvariation in noun class systems Atikonda Mkochi-Mtenje
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 How to use tech (recorder etc.), filenaming, and storing data tbd
15:30-16:00 Afternoon break
16:00-17:00 Students formulate research questions and submit their project/partner preferences All
Thursday 08:30-10:30 Information structure Jenneke van der Wal
10:30-11:00 Chai
11:00-13:00 Announce project/partner pairings, brainstorm in teams All
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Dative Jenneke van der Wal
15:30-16:00 Afternoon break
16:00-17:00 Glossing Jean Chavula
Friday 08:30-10:30 Independent study (students prepare research questions and presentations) All
10:30-11:00 Chai
11:00-13:00 Student project presentations (part 1) All
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Field methods: how to work with a consultant Maarten Mous + Jean Chavula
15:30-16:00 Afternoon break
16:00-17:00 Student project presentations (cont.) All


  • Dr Atikonda Mkochi-Mtenje (MUST; morphosyntax of Bantu languages)
  • Dr Jean Chavula (University of Malawi; morphosyntax of Bantu languages)
  • Dr Winfred Mkochi (University of Malawi; phonology)
  • Dr Jenneke van der Wal (LUCL; comparative morphosyntax, information structure)
  • Prof Maarten Mous (LUCL; descriptive and historical linguistics, language contact)


Thanks to funding from the BaSIS project, there is no tuition fee for participants from Leiden or MUST, the consultants’ payment is covered, as well as lunch for the participants; recording equipment will be provided by the LUCL. Students coming from Leiden will therefore need to cover only their travel, any required vaccinations and malaria profylaxis, and basic living costs (see below for accommodation/meals cost).

Students at Leiden University can apply for a travel grant at the Leids UniversiteitsFonds (information in Dutch and English). Your application should reach the committee before the deadline, and if it is considered good enough, you will be invited for an interview. The deadline for application is 7 March (interview on 5 April). Applicants are informed of the outcome the day after the meeting.


Most nationalities will need a visa for Malawi. You can find further information and apply online at The cost is $50 USD for a single-entry visa.

Students from Leiden can check which vaccinations and medication you need with the LUMC travel tool (only in Dutch). It’s advisable to do this 2-3 months in advance, in case you need multiple vaccinations.

In June, the weather is usually beginning to get cold on Malawian standards. Average temperatures may be around 17 – 22 degrees celsius. You might get some drizzles sometimes but that is usually towards July.


We hope that by June 2022 the global health situation will be such that travel is once again possible, with the necessary precautions. Leiden University does allow travel, though it remains to be seen what colour code Malawi has by June 2022.

At the moment, you can only enter Malawi if you are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and you need to show a negative PCR test result.

Consult the Dutch ministry’s travel advice here.

Venue and accommodation

The location is still to be decided on; likely Zomba. More information about guest houses and prices will follow soon!

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