A Book Review of Beginning Hindi

Christoph DusenberyHindi Language Leave a Comment

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
  • Nicely organized by topics, emphasizing communication over language structure
  • Plenty of review and practice exercises
  • Clear directions to students (and teachers) for how to best use the book
  • A good mixture of vocabulary
  • Explanations are generally well-written and accessible
  • A new copy is pricey (currently selling for $71 on Amazon.com)
  • The exercises lack an answer key (though the answers to the beginning script exercises are provided)
  • The dialogues lack a story for students to follow
  • It feels like there’s an overwhelming amount of text on some pages
Bottom Line:

Well-organized and tried and tested, Beginning Hindi – A Complete Course is a good choice for a first-year Hindi course book. It has 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 challenging to use independently.


After thorough introductions (with practice exercises) to the Hindi sounds and script, Beginning Hindi has eight units with 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. However, like other first-year Hindi books, grammatical structures build upon one another throughout the book, with successive chapters presuming structural knowledge from previous chapters.

Each unit helpfully ends with a review chapter. But surprisingly, there is no answer key to the exercises. Some exercises are open-ended, but it would be nice if the more controlled drills were given an answer key. The book has three helpful appendixes and Hindi-English / English-Hindi glossaries.

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. Depending on your point of view, this could be a good or bad thing. 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 the story and the presented structure.

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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