Words from India … what a Hullabaloo!

Did you know that a lot of words we use in everyday life in the English language originated in India, including the word ‘Hullabaloo’? You might be surprised at just how many words you recognise. The words vary from clothes (pyjamas, bandana, pashmina) to food (chutney, char, curry) to modes of transport (catamaran, dinghy, juggernaut).

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Hindi Day

Did you know that the 14th September is Hindi Day? Also known as Hindi Diwas, this date marks the day when Hindi became the official language of India. It was first acknowledged on the 14th September 1949 when it was spoken during a United Nations conference in New York.

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Festival of Lights – Diwali 2010

This year the Diwali festival will take place on Tuesday 26th October 2010. The date of the Diwali changes according to the position of the moon.

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Election Manifestos go Multilingual

While trying to decide which way to vote in the UK General Election on 6 May 2010, I decided to browse through all the election manifestos of the major political parties.  I was pleased to discover on the Green Party website that they have their Mini Manifesto in Arabic and Bengali.   [Read more…]


Monsoon Wedding (2001)

A language advantage film review by Sarah Carroll

The wedding celebrations unfurl during the rainy season. This film mixes traditional with modern, through great music, dance, colour and a combination of English, Hindi and Punjabi conversations. It traces five stories of love and morality across the globe as everyone descends on New Delhi. You get pulled into the movie, and almost feel like you’re there – or at least wish you could be.

The director of this film is Mira Nair. The film has won a Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival in 2001. In English and Hindi with English subtitles.

To buy  Monsoon Wedding  and other  Hindi language films>>

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East is East (1999)

A language advantage film review by Tess Bentall

The film is set in Manchester in the 1970s. It tells the story of George Khan (Om Puri),  a Pakistani chip shop owner, his British wife Ella (Linda Bassett) and their seven children whose lives are a constant struggle to reconcile Eastern heritage and the Western culture they live in. Meanwhile, their father is actively seeking arranged marriages for his sons. When Nazir (Ian Aspinall) bails out of his forthcoming marriage on the wedding day, he is considered dead by his father and moves away. This does nothing to diminish George’s enthusiasm to marry off his sons in the traditional Pakistani way and Abdul and Tariq (Jimi Mistry) are next on his list. As the future brides and their parents arrive for tea, an unwelcome sculpture by art student Saleem (Chris Bisson), another of the  sons,  ensures that chaos ensues.

This is a fun film about identity, family life and what happens when two cultures collide. It is an enjoyable comedy. All the characters are well portrayed and the unusual relationship between the parents is explored in an interesting manner.

It has won a BAFTA for best British film and has received many other nominations and awards around the world.   The film is in English but with many conversations in Urdu.

To buy  East is East  and other  Hindi language films>>

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The Oscars 2009

The 81st Annual Academy Awards ® were held on Sunday 22nd February 2009 in Hollywood.   The Oscars ® reached film fans in over 100 countries. The lower-budget, but highly-acclaimed film Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle, won many Oscars ®, including for the Best Picture.   It is in the English, Urdu and Hindi languages. [Read more…]


bbc-beginner-hindi-urdu-bol-chaalAn independent language course review by Sarah Maddocks

The BBC’s Hindi Urdu Bol Chaal is a beginner’s course in spoken Hindi and Urdu.
The book provides material for approximately 100 hours of study and covers topics including simple greetings, family, jobs, health and education. The book is sold separately but can be accompanied by a set of two cassettes which contain conversations, listening exercises, pronunciation guides and listen and speak practices.

I must admit I was slightly apprehensive about learning Hindi and Urdu, because up until now I have only ever learnt the romance languages such as French and Spanish, whose grammar and vocabulary are kind of similar. To attempt to learn Hindi and Urdu meant that I had to learn a whole new system of language (I suppose that comes with learning a new language and culture though, it’s all about broadening horizons!)
The book has 10 units, each with different sections, including dialogues and notes check up (just to check that you’ve understood the dialogue), keywords (pretty self explanatory I think!), sound systems (pronunciation hints), how the language works (grammar), exercises (a chance to practice what you have learnt), background (history of Hindi and Urdu – I know sounds tedious but is actually very interesting), and review sections. The exercise section is absolutely ace, you can do crosswords using the new vocabulary you have learnt and also fill in speech bubbles (it felt like I was back in school again which without sounding too much like a geek was actually fun).

The exercise section is absolutely ace – you can do crosswords using the new vocabulary you have learnt and also fill in speech bubbles.

When I first played the tapes, I felt like the course was too hard and I would never be able to pronounce the words. But I just rewound again, told myself I could do it and carried on. It did take about three plays of the same conversation before I felt I could say the words correctly. At the end of the day the course is designed to be used however you want it to be used and as long as you are learning, it doesn’t matter how many times you repeat the tape.

The tapes are used with the book; you know when to play the tape as there are small tape signs by the text. They are designed to be played with the book, and you will not get any value if you listen to the tapes without the book. You simply learn the words you have looked at in the section and hear them being pronounced. There is a man on the tape who sounds like an English-speaker but has a different accent on some words (perhaps he is bilingual!). Unlike most language tapes where you have to stop the tape, this program allows you to answer in the pauses provided and surprisingly these are long enough to answer (even with added thinking time!)

There are exercises where you have to listen and answer questions. In unit 1, they were short conversations; you have to answer the questions: “Are the greetings Hindu Sikh or Muslim? What are the names of the two people? How are they?” These may look like simple enough questions but they really help you to learn, especially when it is a language completely unknown to you. I liked the fact this tape asked you questions and you had “fun things” to do – it made learning this language a lot easier to do for me. I think even if you had some prior knowledge of the language through family and community ties, you’d still find the course useful and fun.

As mentioned above the tape is meant to be more of listening practise than actually learning new language from the tape. It is the book which provides most of the information to learning this language and the tape is kind of a back up so you can get used to hearing the language being spoken. The idea is to listen to the dialogue to get yourself familiar with the sounds of the dialogue and then to read through the book and look at key words. Then you are meant to return to the tape to listen to it again so this time you can understand what you are listening to. To me this was slightly exhausting, as I prefer to have language courses where you can listen to the tape as the main part of the course and then use the book as a back up. But then again, this was all new to me because I haven’t done a course like this before.

The tape is aimed at beginners, so the level does not change throughout. A good thing I found with this approach was that instead of recapping what you had already learnt with faster dialogues, you actually ended up learning more content. I found this better as I prefer to have more knowledge of lots of subjects rather than have knowledge of one subject but be able to speed through it so fast hardly anyone would be able to understand me anyway.

I even managed to surprise one of my friends by asking her how she was and what jobs she had done.

I really enjoyed doing this course – it really was something new for me. I live in Birmingham in the UK where there is a big Hindi-speaking population, so found this very handy. I even managed to surprise one of my friends by asking her how she was and what jobs she had done. It was only when she replied with a very long answer that I realised maybe I should go and buy an intermediate course so I can have a proper conversation with her in Hindi!

to buy BBC Hindi Urdu Bol Chaal [UK]>>
to buy BBC Hindi Urdu Bol Chaal [USA]>>
to find out more about BBC language courses>>

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Take a look at our selection of Hindi language films, read  our film reviews and let the movies motivate you to get the Hindi language advantage.

We’ve picked out a selection of our top Hindi foreign language movies.  It’ll help you  to get more familiar with the Hindi language and is a great way to appreciate the culture from various Hindi-speaking countries.

Hindi Language Films and Movies

++check format, age classification and language combination is appropriate before you buy!++

film title year buy from amazon.com buy from amazon.co.uk
Slumdog Millionaire [English/Hindi/Urdu] (2008) DVD                  blu-ray DVD                   blu-ray
Vivah (2007) DVD DVD
Kabul Express (2007) DVD DVD
Pyaar ke Side Effects (2006) DVD                  blu-ray DVD
Temptation- As never seen before (2005) not available DVD
The Rising (2005) DVD DVD  
Bride & Prejudice [& English] (2004) DVD DVD  
Deewana   not available DVD  
Dhoom 2   DVD                  blu-ray DVD                   blu-ray  
Nanhe Jaisalmer   DVD DVD  
Pinjar (2003) DVD DVD  
Hunein Tumse Pyar Ho Gaya (2003) DVD DVD  
Bend it Like Beckham [& English] (2002) DVD DVD                   blu-ray  
Lagaan (2002) DVD DVD  
Tera Mera Saath Rahen (2001) DVD DVD  
Monsoon Wedding (2001) DVD                  blu-ray DVD                  
Asoka (2001) DVD DVD  
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) DVD                  blu-ray DVD                   blu-ray  
Mohabbatein (2000) DVD                  blu-ray DVD  
Earth (1999) DVD DVD  
East is East [& English] (1999) DVD DVD                   blu-ray
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1999) DVD                  blu-ray DVD  
Salaam Bombay! (1998) DVD DVD  
Fire (1997) DVD DVD  
  more Hindi films on DVD from amazon.com more Hindi films on DVD from amazon.co.uk  

Read our Hindi language film and movie reviews

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World Cinema

Watching a foreign language movie is a great way to learn a new language, improve existing language skills and to find out about a foreign country and its culture. Buy a DVD in a foreign language and you can choose both the language you watch in and the language of the subtitles. You’ll be amazed at how much you can already understand. Film is a great language learning resource and makes a great gift too. Motivate yourself with a movie!

Our top 10 foreign language films

01 Downfall German
02 House of the Flying Dagger Chinese
03 Motorcycle Diaries Spanish
04 Amelie French
05 Il Postino Italian
06 Life is Beautiful Italian
07 Y Tu Mama Tambien Spanish
08 Delicatessen French
09 Spirited Away Japanese
10 Manon des Sources French

Foreign language movies by language

We have selected the most popular foreign language movies for you:

Chinese language movies
English language movies
French language movies
German language movies
Hindi language movies
Italian language movies
Japanese language movies
Spanish language movies
Other foreign language movies

Foreign language film reviews

This is where we tell you what we really think about foreign language films on language advantage! We’ve picked out a selection of our favourite foreign language movies and written a short review of each. They are all very different, but excellent viewing – and of course will motivate you to get the language advantage.

Chinese language film reviews
French language film reviews
German language film reviews
Hindi language film reviews
Italian language film reviews
Japanese language film reviews
Spanish language film reviews
Film reviews in other languages

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Teach Yourself Conversation

Are you lost for words when speaking a language?
Picture the scene: You’ve arrived at the airport in Spain, excitedly clutching your suitcase and sun hat, when you ask an airport official in your best phrasebook Spanish where the taxi rank is. It seems to work as he replies straightaway …… but that’s where the conversation ends!

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