From 13 June until 2 July 2022, BaSIS co-organised 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), 4 students from Leiden and 8 from Malawi received 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 first training week, students conducted their own linguistics research projects and elicited new data on a topic of their choice, with guidance from the instructors. All indicated that they learned a lot!

An impression of the collaborations, classes, data-gathering, and fun is in the pictures below:

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

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, and Lomwe 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 Mtenje-Mkochi
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 Jenneke van der Wal
15:30-16:00 Afternoon break
16:00-17:00 Verbal art in a language description project 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


slides Chindali

slides Citonga

13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Recognising and transcribing tone Maarten Mous
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 Pascal Kishindo
10:30-11:00 Chai
11:00-13:00 Microvariation in noun class systems Atikonda Mtenje-Mkochi
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 How to use tech (recorder etc.), filenaming, and storing data Jenneke van der Wal
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


(see also Dative tutorial)

Jenneke van der Wal
15:30-16:00 Afternoon break
16:00-17:00 Glossing


Leipzig Glossing Conventions

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 (part 2) 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 Malawi, the consultants’ payment is covered, as well as lunch for the participants; and recording equipment will be provided by LUCL. Students coming from Leiden will therefore need to cover only their travel, any required vaccinations and malaria profylaxis, and basic living costs.

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.

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