Urdu-embellished Pakistani truck art, common throughout Pakistan

Although about 90% of undergraduate Hindi-Urdu students these days are “heritage” learners (foreign-born children of South Asian parents), many of my private students are non-South Asians who have just married into a South Asian family.  Those newlyweds often quickly realize they won’t be able to fully appreciate everything going without knowing the language, even if the family speaks Hinglish or Urdish.

Other students are working or doing research in South Asia, often in public health, economics, or religious studies, and I enjoy designing special lessons for them focussed on their work, since I learn a lot about their specialties that way.

There are as many reasons to learn Hindi-Urdu as there are students of it, but below is a revealing program on why the children of immigrants may want to learn the language of their parents, even if the parents themselves don’t think they should. When it comes to “heritage” students, convincing the parents that learning Hindi-Urdu is worth the cost of tuition is sometimes the first step.

From the show: “About two thirds of New Yorkers are from immigrant families. And when parents – who came here from other countries – raise American children, they face all kinds of choices about which cultural norms to follow. That’s the case in Radio Rookie Andrea Lee Torres’ family. Her parents came here from the Philippines in the 1990s. And she’s not sure she agrees with at least one decision they made – not to teach her their language.”

Scroll to Top