In January 2020, BaSIS organises a 3-week programme for students from Leiden University and Tharaka University College (TUC)/Chuka University, Kenya, to gain on-the-ground experience in conducting linguistic fieldwork. Up to 16 students in total from the two institutes will receive training from Leiden/TUC instructors in linguistic fieldwork methodology (including recording techniques and database tools) as well as classes on information structure and the local linguistic environment of Kenya, a country where around 40 indigenous languages are spoken. Then, in the second and third weeks of the programme, students are free to conduct their own linguistics research projects on a topic of their choice, with guidance from the instructors.


Are you enthusiastic, and are you…

  • … a Linguistics Master, ResMA, or advanced BA students at Leiden University, or you are a Linguistics Master student at Chuka University?
  • … 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 have further questions, please contact the Leiden-based organisers: Dr Jenneke van der Wal or Elisabeth Kerr for more information.

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 field school, 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 24 September* in order to have enough time to receive feedback and submit the LUF application.

Places will be given at a first-come first-serve basis, provided a satisfactory letter is submitted; the next will be placed on a waiting list.

Programme (provisional)

Week 1 Mornings: structure of a language (TUC teachers).

Afternoons: methodology class (LU teachers) + prepare for own research.

Weekend excursion to Meru

Week 2 Data elicitation sessions with native speaker consultants.

Initial analysis and guidance from lecturers.

Week 3 Final data elicitation to check analysis.

Presentation of data and analysis.


  • Dr Mary Karuri (TUC; discourse analysis)
  • Prof Peter Muriungi (TUC; morphosyntax of Bantu languages)
  • Dr Nancy Mbaka (TUC; phonology)
  • Dr Jenneke van der Wal (LUCL; comparative morphosyntax, information structure)
  • Elisabeth Kerr (LUCL; syntax, information structure)


Thanks to funding from the Leiden African Studies Assembly (LeidenASA), there is no tuition fee for participants from Leiden or TUC; recording equipment will be provided, the consultants’ payment is covered, as well as lunch on all weekdays. 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 deadlines for application are 30 September (interview on 29 October) or 18 November (interview 16 December). Applicants are informed of the outcome the day after the meeting.


It will be possible to travel as a group from Schiphol to Tharaka via Nairobi airport; please contact Elisabeth Kerr for more information. We would suggest a budget of €500-700 for flights.

Most nationalities will need a visa for Kenya. You can find further information and apply online at The cost is $51 USD for a single-entry visa.

Here is some information on the climate and weather.


It will likely be possible for Leiden participants to stay at Marimanti Baobab Lodge, with transport to the campus every day.

The price for this will not exceed €35 euros/day for an individual room (= €735 max) or 17,50/day for a shared room (= €368 max), including breakfast and transport to the campus. For other meals, dinner can be bought in the hotel restaurant for €4-8 (depending on number of courses), and lunch will be provided (paid by the field school) on campus.

(Further information to follow)

Other practicalities

You 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.

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