College of Liberal Arts

Teaching Language Online through Health

The Hindi Urdu Flagship program recently released Language for Health, an open educational resource for the teaching of advanced Hindi and Urdu language and culture.

Featuring over 100 original high quality videos produced on location specifically for this project, the webite combines moving images, vocabulary lists, and interactive self-correcting quizzes centered around the experience of India’s diverse health care system. In India, the age-old practice of Ayurvedic and Unani medicine are often available side-by-side with Western health care systems. The unique relationship between patient, doctor, and translator creates a terrific opportunity to challenge advanced level Hindi and Urdu learners and to better understand the complexities of these two world cultures.

Hindi Urdu Language for Health Logo
Hindi and Urdu are often considered sister languages as they have many spoken similarities. However, one is written in Devanagari characters, and the other in a modified form of the Perso-Arabic script. The creators of the website (in particular Dr. Jishnu Shankar in collaboration with Rakesh Ranjan from Columbia University and Gabriela Nik Ilieva from New York University) saw the opportunity to present these languages in one instructional website as equal players, and used authentic source video resources to further explore each language in parallel onscreen views.

Hindi Urdu Video Still
The creators of Language for Health envision the site being used for courses on the Austin campus, as well as in the Flagship’s active study abroad program. Each undergraduate in the Flagship program spends a year in India as part of their degree program. Additional users might include health care providers or non governmental organizations (NGOs) who wish to provide specialized medical, cultural, and/or language training for their employees and communities.

The website was funded by a grant from The Language Flagship, a national initiative to assist Americans in language learning from kindergarten through graduate school, as well as the University of Texas' FAST Tex program and Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services.

The site is free for the public to view and use at:

Primary sponsors:

Hindi Urdu Flagship

The Language Flagship


by Emily Cicchini