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Online Urdu Language and Culture Course

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AIPS will be hosting the Introduction to Urdu Language and Culture online course this fall. Enrollment is open to all interested in exploring Urdu language and culture, and faculty members at Community Colleges and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) are eligible to receive full funding to participate in the course thanks to support from AIPS’s Department of Education’s Title VI Overseas Research Centers funding.

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About the Course:
In this introductory level Urdu language and culture class, participants will have the opportunity to gain a basic foundation in Urdu and learn about the rich cultural traditions of Pakistan and other Urdu-speaking regions. The 10-week online course is ideal for those who want to get an overview of the basics of the Urdu writing system, learn conversational Urdu useful for daily activities (e.g. shopping, ordering in restaurants), and explore cultural themes via dramas, movies, songs and poetry. No previous knowledge is required, and participants can earn up to 2.0 CEU credits for completing the course. 

*The course is geared towards beginning level Urdu learners and those looking to gain basic knowledge of Urdu language. This course is not designed for advanced, fluent speakers or auditors. If you are a language instructor or have interest in developing an asynchronous language class, please email us to join a wait list for future opportunities.

This is an asynchronous course, meaning that there are no scheduled meeting times. Students should budget approximately 2 hours a week to work through the materials and resources provided in the Canvas course platform. Since students will be learning on their own time, this course will require learners to be fairly self-motivated. If you are looking for a more in-depth and synchronous classroom experience, please check out the South Asia Summer Language Institute or the Hindi Urdu Flagship. 

This is a unique opportunity for Community College and MSI faculty members to learn about the culture and language of Pakistan. Urdu is national language of Pakistan and is widely learned and spoken by South Asian diaspora communities in the United States, as well as in many other parts of the world. Urdu is one of the most important literary and cultural traditions in South Asia. In addition, this course will prepare Community College and MSI faculty members to submit a competitive application for a future AIPS Faculty Development Seminar in Pakistan.

In this 10-week asynchronous course, participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn the basics of Urdu writing system (Calligraphic Arabic-Persian script)
  • Gain a basic foundation in the Urdu language, including:
  • Vocabulary including: numbers, fruits, flowers, food, colors, clothes and many more fun things
  • Opening and closing a conversation
  • Etiquettes of everyday conversation (formal, informal, intimate)
  • How to introduce yourself
  • How to express likes and dislikes
  • How to bargain in local market 
  • How to use transportation 
  • How to talk about daily routines
  • Shopping in Pakistani/Indian (Desi) stores
  • Ordering food in Pakistani/Indian (Desi) restaurant
  • Explore cultural topics. Urdu language learning will be connected and deeply woven with the rich cultural tradition of Pakistan in particular and South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) in general.  A major part of the course time will be devoted to culture and will include: Bollywood movies/songs, Pakistani TV dramas, Urdu poetry, as well as Pakistani cuisines.

A typical week would include:

  • 30 minutes of studying vocabulary
  • 30 minutes of practicing writing
  • 30 minutes of learning about culture 
  • 30 minutes exploring a topic of your own interest

There are no grades, but students are expected to respond to discussion boards and complete a mid-term and final exercise.
This is required for any participants wanting to earn 2.0 CEU credits. 

Enrollment Process:

The 10-week course will run from February 26 to May 5, 2024.

Please register via UW-Madison's Continuing Studies webpage. The deadline to register is February 25, 2024.

The course registration fee is $259, due upon enrollment.  
**Faculty members at Community Colleges and Minority-Serving Institutions are eligible to have enrollment fees covered by AIPS. Please contact AIPS ( for an enrollment code. 

Meet the Instructor:

The course has been designed by Dr. Jameel Ahmad.  Dr. Ahmad has been teaching beginning to advanced level Urdu for over a decade at the University of Washington, Seattle. Urdu language and literature are his passions, and he has particular interest in the translation of Urdu poetry in English.  He has created Urdu curricula at the high school and university levels, as well as for a study abroad program in Lahore, Pakistan.  Currently he is also working on the history of Urdu Ghazal poetry for a podcast series.  Dr. Ahmad's inclusive and friendly teaching style seeks to inspire and engage learners in their language and culture studies.