English Language Learners / Dual Language Learners / Multicultural Education Support – Language Lizard Blog


Today’s spotlight language is Oromo! We offer some background information and interesting facts about the language, as well as help finding children’s books in Oromo.  Interested in learning about other languages as well?  Check out our series of posts on world languages, including Spanish, Nepali, Hindi, Russian, and Japanese!


Where is Oromo spoken?

The Oromo language, also known as Afaan Oromo, is a Cushitic language spoken by the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Egypt. The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, accounting for about 40% of the population. Oromo is spoken by an estimated 30 million people around the world.

How Many People Speak Oromo in the US?

Currently, there is no Census data on how many Oromo speakers live in the US. However, there are large Oromo speaking populations in Washington DC, New York, Washington state, and Minnesota.

Interesting Facts About Oromo

Scholars have found examples of written Oromo literature as early as the 17th century.

In the early 1970s, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) chose the Latin alphabet as the official alphabet to write Oromo, called Qubee. Prior to that, Oromo was also written with the Ge’ez script.

There are 3 main dialects of Oromo: Western, Eastern, and Southern.

All nouns in the Oromo language are grammatically masculine or feminine. Consonant length can distinguish words from one another, for example, badaa means “bad,” and baddaa means “highland.”

Oromo Books – Bilingual Children’s Books

If you interact with children who speak Oromo, or are learning the language yourself, you may want suggestions on some of the best bilingual Oromo kids books and audio books.  The bilingual children’s book The Biscuit Moon, a powerful story about scarcity, greed, and the benefits of cooperation, is available in English with Oromo.

Do you speak Oromo, or are you learning the language? Comment below and share your interesting language facts!

“Sof Omer Cave, Ethiopia” by Rod Waddington via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/z58ZnN

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