Hindi Programs at AIIS

American students learn Hindi in a community environment in Jaipur.

By Achyuta Nand Singh

September 2023

Hindi Programs at AIIS

Achyuta Nand Singh, AIIS Hindi program head, explains Hindi grammar in a Critical Language Scholarship Program class at Jaipur. (Photograph courtesy Achyuta Nand Singh)

I joined the Hindi language program at the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) in 1989 as an instructor. I became the head of the Hindi program in 1999 and associate director (programs) in 2006. I have taught students of all levels, but mainly advanced classes. My favorite subjects are grammar, vocabulary and Hindi films.

In 2023-24, there are eight programs of various durations and one individual online learning program. About 67 students are learning Hindi through these programs. The courses offered include summer programs like the eight-week Critical Language Scholarship Program; academic year, spring semester and fall semester language programs and the 15-week South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative. The most popular programs at AIIS are the summer language programs. Because of the short duration of the program, students take a lot of interest.

From 1989 to 2004, mostly postgraduate students enrolled in the Hindi language program. At that time, the AIIS Hindi language program had only advanced level classes. The intermediate level program was started in 2005 and undergraduate students started to enroll. The elementary level program was started in 2011. The AIIS Hindi language program at Jaipur now offers all three levels. We don’t use textbooks for any class but we do use self-prepared teaching materials and some grammar books for reference.

We offer a variety of opportunities for American students to practice the language in a community environment. All the students stay with Hindi-speaking host families which gives them an opportunity to practice their Hindi skills as well as get to know Indian culture. Each student must do a community project every week and present their report in the class. Guests from different professions come to interact with the students every week. Study tours are organized biweekly on Saturdays, where students interact with the people from the community.

Every Friday, there is a student-teacher meeting where we discuss that week’s classes, teaching material, workload, etc. Students are encouraged to provide feedback and we try to implement their suggestions next week.

According to their feedback, there is not enough time for some students to complete homework, some have difficulty listening and understanding the language, and some students who have come to India for the first time may face culture shock.

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