American Institute of Indian Studies Hindi Language Program Review

Review

Bada Imambara, Lucknow – Felix Pal

The American Institute of Indian Studies language program is known across the world as a centre of Indian research, cultural engagement and language learning. It’s language programs are famous for their unparalleled quality and diversity.
While it’s flagship program is its Hindi course in Jaipur, Rajasthan, the Institute offers regular courses in thirteen major Indian languages across the country and can arrange tailored programmes in other smaller languages and dialects upon request.
The Institute has trained more than four thousand students since 1961 and has always maintained a focus on cultural as well as language immersion. This means that languages are taught where they are spoken.
Students are given to opportunity to stay with monolingual host families so that if you want to study Tamil you can do it in Madurai with a Tamil family, if you are learning Urdu you will be in Lucknow, Bengali in Kolkata etc. While the language programs are geared towards American students, admission is open to foreign students as well.
Check out the Asia Options guide to see why you should learn an Indian language.

Lucknow field trip to Kakori Shareef. American Institute of Indian Studies 2017

 

Programs

Most students undertaking study through the Institute are research scholars and as such the quality of the teaching is incredibly high.

  • Offered are Summer Language Programs (June to August), Semester Programs (September to December) and Academic Year Programs (September to May).
  • Admission is competitive and applicants are required to submit a proposal for the purposes of their study. The Hindi and Urdu programs are particularly competitive.
  • Four hours daily of study with weekly vocabulary, grammar, literature, newspaper, audio and video listening and oral presentation classes. In addition, there are field trips and cultural programs some afternoons.
  • Expectation of between ten and twenty hours of homework outside school hours.
  • For most languages a year of language study is required before admission although this is flexible with smaller regional languages
  • Class sizes vary but will rarely exceed six students. While there are two private tutorials a week, there are no further options for private tuition.
  • Students can approach regional Institutes for assistance and tailored language learning within the course for their specific research or career needs eg. finding fixers, translating particular texts etc.

 

Tuition

  • Summer Language Program – AUD $3780.00
  • Semester Program – AUD $5050.00
  • Academic Year Program – AUD $10100.00

The tuition fees for Institute language programs are substantially higher than other language programs both because of their high quality and experience and because most students are university students who are able to get institutional funding from their home universities. In addition, if you are a fellow of the Institute in some cases the fees are waived. Applicants are also able to apply for funding from the Institute although this is difficult for non-Americans. For funding inquiries contact the American office at aiis@uchicago.edu.

Location

Institutes are always located in cities where the target language is spoken. This is particularly important for immersion purposes and also allows students to see more of India than its traditional centres of learning. Each program has a different institute (click here for a full map) usually located in a quiet residential area. Homestays or shared apartments are organised through the Institutes and tend to be within a five kilometre radius of the individual school. To think this through have a look at the Asia Options guide to the best Indian cities to study, work and live.

Felix Pal

 

Reputation

Compared to many language schools in India, the American Institute of Indian Studies’ international links means that its reputation is unrivalled. Generations of South Asian Studies scholars have gone through the regional institutes and have cemented these programs’ status as the gold standard in South Asian language programs.

Atmosphere

The intensity of the Institute’s programs means that there is little time for activities outside of class. Most of your time will be spent studying. One the one hand this means that the quality of learning is excellent but on the other, it means that students will have less time to engage with the cities they are in than other language programs. In addition, the diversity and specificity of programs mean that courses are often in smaller regional cities like Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar and Mysore, where the atmosphere is not as cosmopolitan as Delhi or Mumbai.

Final Verdict

The American Institute of Indian Studies is undoubtedly one of the best ways to learn an Indian language and their Hindi program is particularly well renowned. It is thorough, comprehensive, intense, flexible and challenging and has the added bonus of making sure that you will learn a language exactly where it is spoken. However, some students may find the cost prohibitive and the atmosphere intimidating and overwhelming. Overall possibly the finest choice of Indian Language studies if you can afford it.

For more information check out their website at http://www.indiastudies.org/language-programs/
Also have a look at Asia Options articles on learning Hindi: