Linguistics in Kenya Experience

In January 2020, BaSIS organises a 3-week programme for students from Leiden to work with students from Tharaka University College (TUC)/Chuka University, Kenya, to gain on-the-ground experience in conducting linguistic fieldwork. Up to 16 students (8 from each institute) will receive training from Leiden/TUC instructors in linguistic fieldwork methodology (including recording techniques and computational 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! Please contact the Leiden-based organisers: Dr Jenneke van der Wal or Elisabeth Kerr for more information.

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.

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. (Further information to follow)


(info to follow)

Other practicalities

You can check which vaccinations and medication you need with the LUMC travel tool (only in Dutch).


%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close