Alwiya Omar came to Bloomington from Tanzania in 1987 to pursue a Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition. After earning that degree in 1992, she taught at University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Georgia, and University of Pennsylvania before returning to IU in 2002.
Today, she is a clinical professor of Linguistics, teaches Kiswahili, coordinates the teaching of other African languages in the African Studies Program, and directs the National African Language Resource Center. In addition to second language acquisition, her research interests include cross-cultural pragmatics, web-based language instruction, and study abroad language programs. Omar previously directed the Kiswahili Flagship program for IU students, as well as the STARTALK summer Kiswahili program for middle and high school students. Through a Carnegie Diaspora Fellowship that Omar received in 2014, she collaborated with the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) to develop MA and PhD Kiswahili Linguistics curricula, as well as teach and mentor students.
Omar received a Master of Arts in linguistics from the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and Bachelor of English Literature and Linguistics from Kuwait University. She is a member of Chama cha Ukuzaji wa Kiswahili Duniani (CHAUKIDU), or “Association for Globalization of Kiswahili.” She has served as president of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages and African Language Teachers Association, and in 2018 was awarded the A. Ronald Walton Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages.