The College of Human Science at the University of South Africa (Unisa) is currently offering a range of courses to learn the basics of several African languages.

These are free of charge and focus on simple phrases which are useful when trying to make your way around the country. While most people are still hunkered down at home, this seems like the perfect time to learn some extra bits of language.

“Available on the platform is information on the nine African languages that form part of South Africa’s official languages. These are isiXhosa, isiZulu, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, siSwati, isiNdebele, Sesotho sa Leboa (Northern Sotho), Sesotho (Southern Sotho), and Setswana. These languages belong to a large family of languages, comprising more than a thousand languages and dialects, which are spoken largely in equatorial Africa and to the south of it,” writes Rivonia Naidu-Hoffmeester, the communications and marketing specialist in the College of Human Sciences.

There are also plans to extend what’s on offer here.

We’ve poked around a few of the lessons to see what they have to offer and they are broken up into themes depending on what you’d like to cover. Basic topics such as “greetings and courtesies”, “asking for help, emergencies” and “banks, taxis and restaurants” are all included.

You can find the lessons on Unisa’s website here.

It’s worth noting two caveats before you give this a try yourself. Firstly the announcement for these courses states that it’s only available for staff and students of the university. There doesn’t seem to be any actual check to ensure that people looking at the courses are connected to the university, so give it a spin regardless.

Secondly it looks like Unisa is trying to use Flash for certain parts of the lessons, specifically videos. There are several workarounds to safely use Flash on modern browsers, but we’d instead recommend using the “download a printable version of this theme” button instead and avoiding it all together.

Clinton has been a programmer, engineering student, project manager, asset controller and even a farrier. Now he handles the maker side of htxt.africa.