Help with Tonga and Bemba languages clarification

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Zambia: Leave a question or message about Peace Corps/Zambia or for Zambia RPCVs: Help with Tonga and Bemba languages clarification

By andrew mahlstedt ( - on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 5:49 am: Edit Post

Greetings from India,

My name is Andrew Mahlstedt; I teach at the Mahindra United World College of India. We are one of ten United World Colleges, and organization that raises scholarship funds to bring students together from as many nations and backgrounds as possible to live and learn together for the last two years of secondary school. For more information, see the website:

We have two students from the Pestalozzi Village in Zambia this year who are beginning the academically rigorous International Baccalaureate. The IB requires all students to study one language as literature, whether their first or a close second (or sometimes third), and one secondary language. To ensure the availability of studying one's primary language as literature, there exists a course called "Self-taught" in which students read 6 texts in their own language, on their own, and read 5 texts in English, with a teacher.

Our two students from Zambia speak Bemba and Tonga. Can someone from your office fill me in on these languages? Specifically, to what extent are they written languages -- i.e. do they have much in the way of published texts (on any level). Are they taught very widely in schools? Precious and Priscilla both speak fine, but they are unsure to what extent there exists a body of literature that they can draw on. If there is not, they will have to study literature in English, which will be quite difficult. Otherwise they can take English as their second language and Bemba/Tonga as their first.

Thanks so much for your help. I was in an International Comparative Education program at Stanford with a ton of PCVs (Bangladesh, Thailand, Namibia, Tanzania), so that's my PC connection...

Thanks again,


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