Painting by Carolyn Caldwell

wolof language 

one-week intensive beginners course

Saint-Louis, Senegal

17 - 24 April 2016

Have you thought of learning an African language? Or would you like to plunge into Senegalese culture? This intensive course in the Wolof language is for you. It is organised by the Waaw centre, an artists' residence and a centre for art and design in the old town of Saint-Louis.


What will you learn?

You will learn enough Wolof to make yourself understood in everyday situations. The emphasis is on communication. No matter if you want to learn the language just for fun or for professional reasons: after the course, you will better understand the people and culture in Senegal and West Africa in general. You will also be given an overview of Wolof grammar, giving you a base for further study or even language research on your own.



The course will start with an introduction to Saint-Louis (in English) on Sunday evening 17 April. Wolof classes will start on Monday morning 18 April and end on Saturday 23 April. Classes will normally be held in the morning between 9:00 and 12:30, with a coffee break in the middle.

In the evenings, there will be screenings of films in Wolof with English or French subtitles. During the week, we will make excursions to the fishermen's quarter Guet Ndar and to Djoudj National Park, known for its rich bird life. These are included in the course fee.

In the the afternoons (Mon-Fri), you can take sabar drumming and dancing classes, taught by professional teachers. Extra cost 25 000 (38 euro) for 5 classes of 60 minutes.

Your Wolof teacher is Mr Moutarou Diallo (MA in International Education, Brattleboro, US), who has a long experience in teaching Wolof to foreign students.

Who can take part?

The course is intended for anyone interested over the age of 21, irrespective of professional or academic background.

Do you already know some Wolof? A course at intermediate or advanced level can also be scheduled for the same week - just get in touch with us.

How to get to Saint-Louis

The cheapest flights to the Senegalese capital, Dakar, are found through search engines such as www.skyscanner.net. Most flights arrive in Dakar in the evening or late at night and depart at night. In practice, you will have to arrive in Senegal on 16 April and spend one night in Dakar; alternatively arrive on a night flight very early in the morning on 17 April.

Transfer by car from Dakar to Saint-Louis will be arranged on Sunday morning 17 April and back to Dakar on Sunday morning 24 April. For those arriving in Senegal just before the start of the course, we will arrange simple accommodation in Dakar the night between 16 and 17 Aprir, including airport pick-up.

As of 2015, foreign visitors will no longer need a tourist visa for Senegal.

We recommend the following vaccinations: hepatitis A and B, tetanus and typhoid. Malaria profylaxis is also advisable. 

We will get back to those registered with more information regarding travel arrangements.

Course fees

Course with accommodation:

* Single room at Hotel Harmattan €320 / 210,000 fcfa

* Double room at Hotel Harmattan, per person €270 / 177,000 fcfa



* Single room at Hotel Siki €430 / 282,000 fcfa

* Double room at Hotel Siki, per person €335 / 220,000 fcfa


The course price includes tuition, all course materials, activities in the evenings, the Djoudj and Guet Ndar excursions, accommodation in Saint-Louis from 17 to 24 April. The price does not include meals or transport from and to Dakar. There is no reduction for late arrival or early departure.

Course without accommodation and excursions €120 / 79,000 fcfa

The course price includes tuition, all course materials, activities in the evenings and the Djoudj excursion. The price does not include meals or transport from and to Dakar. No reduction is given for late arrival or early departure.

Dakar transfer package: €75 / 85 (50,000 / 56,000 fcfa)

This package includes airport pick-up and double/single room accommodation in Dakar on 16 April and transfer by car from and to Dakar in the morning of 17 April and back again in the early afternoon on Sunday 24 April.


For meals, there are several restaurants nearby, where you can have a good meal at prices starting at 1,500 fcfa (€2.30). In more upmarket restaurants, the price for a meal is 5,000-6,000 fcfa/€8-10.

Registration and further information

Please fill out the registration form and email it to the course administrator Mr Staffan Martikainen. Please register early - first come, first served! You will then be asked for a payment of €120, which in the case of a course with accommodation will serve as a down payment of the total fee, payable either by bank transfer or PayPal.

If you have any queries, you can contact us at the address below.

Ñu jàng wolof - let's learn Wolof!

REGISTRATION FORM - Simply copy and paste the headings and fill out the form in your e-mail! Please return to info(ät)waawsenegal.org as soon as possible.

Family Name:

First name:

Sex: male/female

Date of birth:


Permanent address:



Educational qualifications (schools, degrees):

Present occupation:

Native Language:

Possible previous knowledge of Wolof (in detail):

Knowledge of French:

Please write briefly why you want to attend this course:

Any other information that you think is relevant:

Accommodation alternative - please choose one:

Harmattan, single room/Harmattan, double room/Siki, single room/Siki, double room/Course without accommodation

Transfer: will you need the transfer package? Single/double room?

Why study Wolof?

If you are interested in learning an African language, Wolof is a good choice. There is a variety of learning materials available, and you can find music, films and some literature in Wolof. The basics are not very difficult, and you will quickly learn enough in order to communicate. A linguist, however, will find many fascinating features in the structure of the language.

Are you interested in Senegal? The Wolof language is the key to the country. It is the de facto national language, spoken by over 90% of the population. You can get by in Senegal in French, but knowing Wolof will make your experience more rewarding. English is not widely understood. Wolof is also spoken in the Gambia and southern Mauritania, as well as by a large Senegalese diaspora.

Do you want to understand the lyrics of the songs of Youssou N'Dour? Here you have your chance!

Why learn Wolof in Saint-Louis?

As this is an intensive course, you can make the most of your time and money. In picturesque and peaceful Saint-Louis, everything is close at hand - in contrast to the bustle and traffic jams of Dakar. On the other hand, there are enough things going on in town to keep you busy. The Waaw centre is right in the middle of the Saint-Louis island, with shops and restaurants just around the corner.


The Waaw centre

Waaw is an independent Finnish-Senegalese  artists' residence and centre for art and design, which started its activities in 2012.

More information here.

Moutarou Diallo