Language Exchange

The South Asian Idea is launching a new experiment to facilitate the learning of languages. The immediate trigger for this initiative was provided by two posts (From Urdu to Hindi, Farsi and Beyond and Cracking Urdu: A Guide for Those Who Know Hindi) that have struck a chord with readers and become quite popular. I presume the reason is that readers can relate the experience described to their own frustrated attempts at learning new languages in adulthood.

A reader has sent in what struck me as a brilliant suggestion – to set up a language exchange where people could pair up and help each other. For example, a Hindi speaker learning Urdu and an Urdu speaker learning Hindi could be of great assistance to each other in the learning process by forming a reciprocal mentor-student relationship.

The aim of this experiment is to see how this idea translates in practice. If it is successful, we could spin it off as a stand-alone language exchange portal. If it fails, we hope to learn something new about the learning process. There are no real failures in such initiatives.

We will launch the Language Exchange with dedicated pages for Pashto, Persian, Hindi and Urdu and add other languages as we get volunteers committed to taking responsibility for each language. The pages will be populated with content as we move forward; the first entries would be links to learning resources that we have found the most useful in our own efforts. In time we will add links to items of interest about the languages themselves, their histories, relationships, conflicts, etc.

Ask any questions you may have about the language you are learning on the appropriate page and a tutor fluent in that language will answer them. Over time we hope to establish stable personalized teacher-student pairs. General comments and suggestions can be posted here on the Language Exchange page.

Readers can also use the Language Exchange as a site to locate partners who can then collaborate independently off-line posting only questions of general interest here. We will work out a protocol to vet and match candidates suited to help each other best. You can start putting your ads specifying your needs whenever you are ready.

I look forward to observing how this experiment evolves.

For Individual languages, click on the appropriate link:

Urdu, Hindi, Pashto, Persian