Institute Launches Nation's First Hindi-Urdu Flagship Program
Major funding allows for unprecedented undergraduate language study
Posted: April 28, 2007
In a transforming development, the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas at Austin has been selected by the International Institute for Education (IIE) to create the first National Flagship Language Program in Hindi and Urdu in the U.S. UT- Austin will receive over $700,000 in funding in 2006-07 to launch the new Flagship Program in the two sister-languages that are most widely spoken in India and Pakistan. The goal of UT’s Flagship Program is to produce university graduates with the highest levels of fluency and professional proficiency in Hindi and Urdu.
The National Flagship Language initiative seeks to produce a new kind of instructional program focused on the attainment of high- level competency in the target language and grounded in its professional use across a range of disciplines. It has previously launched comprehensive programs of instruction in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian and Russian.
The Director of the Hindi and Urdu Flagship Program (HUF-Program) will be Herman Van Olphen, with Rupert Snell (Hindi) and Akbar Hyder (Urdu) serving as Associate Directors. All three are members of the Department of Asian Studies. The program will employ innovative strategies and tap into new resources compatible with the ambition to effect a radical re-engineering of language education at the undergraduate level. Established as a unit within the SAI, the HUF-Program will continue to promote traditional approaches to literature and culture while setting these within a revised context of collaboration with UT’s social science departments and professional schools, thereby engaging a broad range of contemporary issues. Since the first year of the program is set for 2007-2008, a recruitment initiative of academically excellent high-school students with some knowledge of Hindi or Urdu will begin immediately; language skills of entrants will be enhanced in a summer language camp.
The core Flagship curriculum is designed to deliver a carefully structured sequence of instruction based in a sophisticated understanding of South Asian culture and using innovative technologies. Every year except the third, which will be spent in India, the program will offer two core courses each semester: a Flagship Language Course and a Flagship Area-Content Course. The Flagship Language Course, which is at the heart of the Flagship curriculum, will guide students to fluency in Hindi through engagement with materials focused on contemporary issues, such as the environment, rural development, globalization, religion, and gender. The complementary Flagship Area-Content Courses will be regularly scheduled courses taught by members of various departments that contain an additional component in Hindi-Urdu that is specifically designed for students in the Flagship program. These two core offerings will sit alongside courses in the individual student’s major discipline. During the junior year of study at an institution in India, students will continue taking courses that count towards their individual disciplinary degrees. The HUF-Program also features a Hindi and Urdu Cyber Project that will employ current technologies and Second Language Acquisition principles in the development of field materials gathered in South Asia by the directors and instructors of the program. This curriculum model allows UT- Austin’s established expertise in South Asian languages and area studies, combined with the pedagogy of Second Language Acquisition, to provide the best possible education for students seeking both advanced linguistic fluency and professional training in Hindi and Urdu.
James Brow Acting Director, South Asia Institute The University of Texas at Austin