course
Urdu for Heritage Speakers

Sep 2020

Aftab Ji has been one of my favorite professors! I have taken multiple classes that he has taught and he is equally amazing in all of them. I think what makes him such a great professor, aside from the fact that he is extremely knowledgeable about the material, is that he is also very obviously passionate about what he is teaching. His personality and excitement shows through in his work and makes the students equally excited about learning. By the end of the semester you learn about him as a person outside of class, not just as a teacher. I think language classes are very easy to mess up because grammar isn't always the most interesting thing to learn about, but Aftab Ji makes the daunting task of learning a language so much fun! The stories and poems he brings to class are always fascinating, and class is very rarely just a mundane discussion of grammar and spelling. Instead, we talk about philosophical ideas, spirituality, current events and so much more. He can recite complicated poetry with ease and always has the answer to students' on the tip of his tongue. He's also very caring about his students and always makes sure he is available to anyone who needs extra help. If you do badly in his class, there's no way it's because of his teaching.

Feb 2020

Aftab Ahmad is the best professor I have ever had. He teaches this 5 credit class with so much passion it doesn't feel like you're taking 5 credits. I barely spoke urdu when I came into this class and thought "I'm probably going to drop this after shopping period", but Aftab taught me, who was basically illiterate in urdu, the language in 2 weeks. He makes class so fun with anecdotes, and discussion on current world affairs. If you're struggling even a little bit he will instantly recognize it and make sure you get over whatever rut you're in. I think the success of this course is most accurately measured by the fact that I can go out and get absolutely wasted, and still be able to text my mom in flawless urdu. Aftab did that. Also he's super flexible with deadlines and exams - i think he's just a good person.

Dec 2017

An amazing professor! He really cares and tries hard to make sure everyone is included!

Sep 2016

Truly and by far the best language instructor I have EVER had. I have taken classes in 9 different languages since I was a child and he truly is the most gifted, patient, and talented instructor I have ever had.

May 2016

Professor Aftab is excellent! He structures the course well, reviewing the very basic at the beginning and picking up the pace as the semester progresses. Over time, he incorporated more reading such as news articles and longer/more difficult passages. The spring semester of UFHS was more work than the Fall semester but it was definitely more enjoyable as well. I picked up so much vocabulary and many grammar constructions. Taking it a yearlong instead of just the Fall definitely improved my speaking and listening skills because at the end of the Fall my reading and writing improved quickly but listening to news and having conversations or debates with good vocab was still difficult. After UFHS with Aftab, you'll be ready for the world! You don't just learn Urdu, the interesting topics covered in the class expose you to an array of different thoughts and give you a new angle to look at and understand life and many cultural issues central to South Asia. Do note that how much you learn in this course depends on how much effort you put in. Some people wrote a paragraph for daily homework for example that for analysis of a passage and some wrote 2 pages. If I liked a topic in particular I sometimes spent an hour or two writing my views on something because I would read up on it and look up urdu words etc. Make the most of it. Aftab is great and so is urdu literature.

May 2015

Prof. Aftab is the best professor I've had at Columbia! Take the class if you're a heritage speaker, take Elementary Hindi-Urdu with him if you're not. You'll learn so much about the language, culture, life in general, philosophy, morals, ethics and Aftab himself. It's probably because this class meets four times a week that you get to know him and his thoughts so intimately (plus the fact that it's a yearlong), but this class is incredible.