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Yoruba Language Program

Yoruba is one of the three official languages of Nigeria.

There are about 20 million speakers of the language in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. It has about twenty dialects, which show phonological and lexical differences. Some of these dialects are spoken around the border of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin, and some parts of Togo. 

The language has also survived in Cuba (where it is called Lukumi) and in Brazil (where it is called Nago). The Yoruba language is widely spoken in Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Cuba, Trinidad, Tobago, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. Yoruba is a language of significant interest to linguists across the globe.

Yoruba classes provide students with the spoken knowledge of the language and cultural practices of the people. The skills demonstrated by mastery of Yoruba language and culture are valuable to employers and graduate programs, and fluency in Yoruba itself is sought by government agencies and international non-governmental organizations. 

At the University of Michigan, our students are eligible for highly competitive undergraduate Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships. If you have prior experience with Yoruba, please contact Gabriel Ayoola ( for enrollment guidance.

Hear from our students

Meet the Yoruba Instructor

Gabriel Ayoola holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and Intercultural Studies from the University of Georgia, Athens; and an MA in African Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is from Nigeria and a native speaker of the Yoruba language.

In addition to teaching the Yoruba language at U-M, he also teaches classes in Black World Studies at the Department of AfroAmerican and African Studies. 


Courses Offered in DAAS During Fall Semester

  • AAS 125:  Elementary Yoruba I, 4 Credits
  • AAS 225: Intermediate Yoruba I, 4 Credits
  • AAS 325/517: Advanced Yoruba I, 3 Credits

Courses Offered in DAAS During Winter Semester

  • AAS 126: Elementary Yoruba II, 4 Credits
  • AAS 226: Intermediate Yoruba II, 4 Credits
  • AAS 326/518: Advanced Yoruba II, 3 Credits

Study Abroad Opportunities

The University of Michigan offers an incredible number of study-abroad opportunities for our Yoruba students in Nigeria and the Republic of Benin. For more information, visit the Study Abroad website.

Weekly Conversation Tables

Make sure to check our calendar for Language Tables each semester! Members of the public are welcome. Please check with Gabriel Ayoola ( for updates.

Career opportunities for speakers of African languages

A few of the many career opportunities for students learning African language(s) include:

  • Career in journalism
  • International finance industry
  • Contractual and corporate law
  • Academia and cultural exchange
  • Foreign affairs, US department of states, embassy, immigration, and homeland security