A Book Review of Beginning Hindi

Beginning Hindi – A Complete Course
by Joshua H. Pien and Fauzia Farooqui
Georgetown University Press (2013)
Beginning Hindi - A Complete Course by Joshua H. Pien and Fauzia Farooqui
Pros:
  • Nicely organized by topics, emphasizing communication over structure
  • Plenty of review and practice exercises
  • Clearly given directions to students (and teachers) for how to best use the book
  • A good mixture of vocabulary
  • Explanations are generally well-written and accessible
Cons:
  • A new copy is pricey (currently selling for $67 on Amazon.com)
  • The exercises lack an answer key (though the answers to the script exercises in the beginning are provided)
  • The dialogues lack a story for students to follow
  • Sometimes it feels like there’s an overwhelming amount of text on a single page
Bottom Line:

Well-organized and obviously tried and tested, Beginning Hindi – A Complete Course is a very solid choice for a first year Hindi course book. It has clearly been designed to be a classroom book, and because there isn’t an answer key, students will be somewhat dependent on a teacher. It should work fine for students taking private Hindi classes but would be difficult to use independently.

Description

After starting off with thorough introductions (with practice exercises) to the Hindi sounds and script, Beginning Hindi has 8 units within which there are a total of 41 chapters. The units focus on broad topics such as, Me and My School, or My Family and My Home, while the chapters are more specific, like Introductions, or Describing Classroom Items. This layout generally allows Beginning Hindi to emphasize communication over structure as the foundation of the book. However, like other first-year Hindi books, grammatical structures build upon one another throughout the book, successive chapters presuming structural knowledge of prior chapters.

Each unit ends with a review chapter, which is great. But surprisingly, there is no answer key to the exercises. Some exercises are quite open-ended, but it would be nice if at least the more controlled exercises were given an answer key. The book has 3 useful appendixes and Hindi-English / English-Hindi glossaries at the end.

Unlike many other first-year Hindi language books, such as Teach Yourself – Complete Hindi or Elementary Hindi, in Beginning Hindi you won’t find dialogues with a storyline that runs throughout the book. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, a compelling storyline can motivate students to work through the book and add some entertainment. On the other hand, sometimes the dialogues in those books can become distracting and you can feel that the author(s) strained to write something that would fit with both the story and the structure being presented.

Known Errors

I have noticed the following errors (I’ll continue to add to this list over time):

  • On the top of page 23, this line should read, “The mātrās for the vowels u and ū are represented as follows (with त)”

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