After two very enjoyable years teaching Hindi at Boston University, I’ve begun an M.A. program in Hindi-Urdu Language, Culture, and Foreign Language Pedagogy through Kean University (degree expected 2017), and am eager to put all the latest teaching techniques to work!
I still have some time available for private tutoring and classes. Currently I’m offering beginning and intermediate classes, both in Cambridge. Please contact me for more information if you’re interested.
I majored in Hindi-Urdu at Brown University, and did graduate study in the Harvard University Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies. I also studied Hindi on an exchange program at Banaras Hindu University during college, at which time I lived with a Hindi-speaking family, worked at Sarada Ashram, and learned to play shehnai (poorly). I also learned a lot of Hindi working in an Indian restaurant after college. It really came together for me there, as I had long shifts during which I had to speak Hindi and walk simultaneously! I guess that’s further evidence that communication-centered language study often works the best. Throughout the years, I’ve continued studying on my own and in reading groups with a Hindi instructor from Johns Hopkins (while I was living in Washington, DC) and Harvard (while living in Cambridge).
I first got interested in studying Hindi and Urdu after a trip to Pakistan, where I visited a friend and her family. The most fascinating conversations I had on that trip were the ones with Urdu speakers, in which my friend had to translate for me–conversations with women of a small village we visited, and with the cook who worked in my friend’s grandparent’s house. It was in those translated conversations that I first experienced the lively curiosity and unabashed generosity of many South Asians. The people who had not been out of the country much or learned much English were often the ones I learned unexpected things from.
In the 90’s, I taught Hindi at the Language Exchange in Boston; and from 2000-2009, I taught at the India School in Bethesda, Maryland as well as worked as a Program Specialist at the Smithsonian Institution. I moved back to Cambridge in 2010, where I’ve been teaching Hindi-Urdu since. In 2009 and 2011, I organized, along with the generous help and funding of the Director of the India School, a school field trip program for children in an underfunded Hindi-medium school in Pabsara, India (you can see some pictures on the Gallery page). It was the first time the school offered field trips, and the first time most of the children had visited nearby Delhi. The trips have now become a twice-yearly tradition.
I try to gear my teaching to whatever students prefer, as everyone has different priorities and learning styles. But most beginning students are interested in developing their conversational skills, so I usually provide as many opportunities as possible to communicate in class. I generally focus on introducing new vocabulary and grammatical features into structures that students already know somewhat, so they can increase proficiency without becoming overwhelmed, and review at the same time. Improving proficiency is really about exposure to comprehensible input, and it can be hard to get that exposure on your own, especially at the beginning levels. In class, the goal is to keep the conversation at levels that can be handled reasonably comfortably, and with confidence, while using authentic Hindi materials (songs, stories, advertisements, movies, etc.) whenever possible. I encourage students to bring their own materials if they wish. I also try to help students have structured conversations with Hindi-Urdu speakers they may know from outside of class.
If students are interested in doing homework, that will only help, but not all students have time to or want to do homework, in which case we can work with that as well.
I have most of the well-known Hindi textbooks and we can choose materials according to your priorities. I prefer Rupert Snell’s and Simon Weightman’s Teach Yourself Hindi, but should you want to use another book, I am familiar with the other major texts. For Urdu, I recommend Teach Yourself Urdu by David Matthews and Kasim Dalvi. I have a number of anthologies for intermediate and advanced students, or we can choose a text that interests you. But much of the work we do is not from any text book, as I believe it’s useful to focus on communication-based study that makes use of materials of personal interest to students. Please see the Resources page for links on other texts.
I often teach at my house, which is in Huron Village, Cambridge, and near the Alewife T Stop as well as the Mt. Auburn Street and Brattle Street bus lines. There is plentiful street parking if you prefer to drive. If it’s easier to meet elsewhere, I can sometimes meet at other Cambridge locations (coffee shops and bookstores).