Urdu at the University of Chicago

Artist: Jalal Gilani

Urdu, closely akin to Hindi, is the national language of Pakistan, the official language in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India, and an officially recognized language in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Bengal.  Worldwide, there are over 65 million speakers of Urdu--mainly in India and Pakistan, but also in numerous diasporic communities.  Since Urdu is written in the Perso-Arabic script, as are the other written languages of Pakistan, learning Urdu facilitates access to these other languages as well.

The Urdu program at Chicago includes four levels (first-, second-, and combined third- and fourth-year) of language instruction, in addition to which related courses on various aspects of Urdu literary culture are occasionally offered.  First and second year classes focus on language learning, while third and fourth year students apply their language skills mainly to reading various types of texts, including historical materials and various literary genres.  The readings for these advanced courses are mainly determined based on the interests and proficiency levels of the students.  Prospective Urdu students other than beginners have to take a placement test before registering for second-year and above classes.  Prospective first- and second-year students should contact the instructor (Elena Bashir) before registering to learn how the course is organized.

Urdu students at Chicago have opportunities to apply for Critical Language Scholarships (CLS), FLAG grants, and Boren and NSEP fellowships, as well as the American Institute of Indian Studies and other summer and year-long language programs to study Urdu in India.  Our students have been very successful in obtaining these funding opportunities.

"Letters" (artist Jalal Gilani)

Instructors

Professor:  Muzaffar Alam (alam@uchicago.edu) (3rd and 4th year levels)

Senior Lecturer:  Elena Bashir (ebashir@uchicago.edu) (1st and 2nd year levels)

 

Class Timings

In scheduling first- and second-year classes, every effort is made to make sure that students are not excluded because of scheduling conflicts.  Third and fourth year classes are generally by arrangement, based on the mutual convenience of instructor and students.

 

Placement exam

The Urdu placement test for incoming first-year undergraduates is administered during orientation week just prior to commencement of classes. Please contact Elena Bashir (ebashir@uchicago.edu) with any questions concerning the time and date of the exam. Incoming graduate students unsure about their Urdu abilities may also take the exam to determine placement.

 

FAQ:

What if I have a potential schedule conflict?
Be sure to come to the organization meeting, held on the first day of class, and email the instructor (Bashir) beforehand, explaining your problem.
 
 I’d like to audit/sit-in on an Urdu. Is that possible?
No. SALC does not permit auditors in any of the department’s language classes. Please consider registering for the class.
 
 I already have some background in spoken or written Urdu. What class should I take?
You will need to take the placement exam, so that the instructor can learn about your levels of spoken and written Urdu.