Columbia    Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures

The MEALAC Hindi/Urdu Language Program

Language Coordinator: Rakesh Ranjan

Introduction | Objectives | Frequently Asked Questions | Web Resources


Hindi/Urdu is an easy, straightforward, beautiful language.

The Elementary and Intermediate sequences are both two semesters long. They will teach you basic oral Hindi/Urdu and written Hindi, prepare you for further work in Hindi and/or Urdu, and clarify for you the interesting and complex relationship between Hindi and Urdu. We will work on all the skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. You will learn the Urdu script as part of the second-year class. This course is time-intensive, but is taught on an undergrad level; students who want to work more quickly or intensively may speak with the instructors about supplementary materials.

Objectives of the Program

Elementary Level
  • Provide basic information in Hindi/Urdu about oneself, family, interests, likes, dislikes, daily activities.
  • Understand and participate in a simple conversation on everyday topics (weather, meeting people, school, shopping, etc.)
  • Read edited texts on familiar topics, understand the main ideas and pick out important information from “authentic” texts (menus, signs, timetables, etc.).
  • Fill in forms requesting information, write letters, notes, postcards or messages providing simple information.
  • Use and understand a range of essential vocabulary related to everyday life.
  • Pronounce Hindi/Urdu well enough and produce it with sufficient grammatical accuracy to be comprehensible to a Hindi/Urdu speaker accustomed to conversing with non-natives.
Intermediate Level
  • Successfully handle most uncomplicated communicative tasks and social situations.
  • Initiate, sustain, and close a general conversation.
  • Write letters and short compositions and read consistently with full understanding simple connected texts dealing with personal and social needs.
  • Get the main ideas and information from texts featuring description and narration.
Readings in Hindi/Urdu (“Advanced”)
Includes reading and discussion of selected literary, social science, historical, and/or journalistic texts. Since the content changes each term, the course may be repeated for credit.
Hindi for Heritage Speakers

This is an accelerated course for students of South Asian origin who already possess a knowledge of basic vocabulary and limited speaking and listening skills in Hindi. This is an intensive course that will combine the curriculum of both elementary and intermediate Hindi/ Urdu in two semesters instead of four. So, it will save the student a whole year of Hindi/Urdu. To qualify for this class, it is expected that a student:

  • Possesses limited speaking and listening skills in Hindi/Urdu or a dialect of Hindi.
  • Possesses basic vocabulary, though limited ability, to converse about topics such as: self, family, likes, dislikes and immediate surroundings.
  • Familiar with some aspects of South Asian culture.

Students will be able to move on to the third year level after successful completion this one year condensed year.

There will be an interview/placemat test on the first day of classes in order to establish the proficiency level. Please come directly to class. If accepted, you will be registered internally by the department.