Business Hindi materials, consisting of two volumes, will assist those who want to engage with the business world in India. The complete text of the two volumes is uploaded on a CampusPress website (https://web.sas.upenn.edu/business-hindi/) of the University of Pennsylvania.
The two volumes contain the following materials:
1. Volume One consists of forty-eight units centered on twelve different business-related topics. Similarly, Volume Two includes another set of forty-eight units based on twelve subjects. All units deal with engaging content in Hindi. Each unit incorporates pedagogic tools of a glossary, grammatical notes, cultural notes, a variety of practice activities, language development exercises (in Volume Two), and questions for reading comprehension.
2. Volume Two also contains lists of supplementary materials with references and links. All the texts bear the authenticity of their original authors. Most of the contents are from Hindi media, the Internet, and from business schools where instruction and learning have included both Hindi and English.
3. The linguistic style in these materials is mostly formal as one would need in most business situations. Hindi is a diglossic language, which means the formal style of Hindi in spoken and written forms is somewhat different from the informal style. Such differences are mainly in the realm of vocabulary.
4. The audio version of the written texts is available via hyperlinks within each unit.
5. Each unit contains a hyperlink to an online dictionary that works both ways – Hindi to English and English to Hindi
6. Each unit contains questions to generate conversation or discussion or both in Hindi on business-related topics.
The first volume presupposes ACTFL’s Intermediate level reading knowledge of Hindi, and the second volume requires a minimum of Intermediate-High level reading comprehension in Hindi. ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines in English and Hindi Links: https://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-proficiency-guidelines-2012/english
Business Hindi materials focus on three skills – speaking, listening, and reading. The audio version of the written texts within each unit is for strengthening the comprehension of the written materials. Repeated listening of these texts will not only reinforce the Hindi vocabulary, but it will also instill into the mind of listeners the correct pronunciation of Hindi words and the rhythm of the Hindi syntax. Besides, these materials will improve learners’ listening comprehension in formal Hindi in general, and of the current contents in particular.
With an intensive study of the first volume, students can expect to reach Intermediate- High to Advanced-Low level proficiency in business Hindi. While working with the second volume, learners should be able to climb up to Advanced-High to Superior level proficiency in speaking, listening, and reading.
Many professional and scientific terms in spoken Hindi come from English. However, formal texts, spoken or written, avoid English terms as far as possible. Such a situation is more applicable to the written than the spoken style. As language is constantly in a state of flux, we notice the written form also drifting gradually toward the spoken form in many contexts. Most formal settings prefer newly coined words based on native sources. For new coinages to meet emerging linguistic needs, the indigenous source for Hindi is the mother language Sanskrit. As users of these materials will see for themselves, a wide variety of Sanskritized terms appear in these units, more so in the second volume.
Why Business Hindi Materials for India?
- Although the knowledge of English may seem widespread in India, it is primarily limited in its coverage and quality. According to The Knowledge Commission of India Report 2006, persons with reasonably good proficiency in English are about one percent of the total population. According to the Government of India Census figures, those who claim to know English are about twelve percent. In absolute numbers, one percent amounts to a large number of 1.2 million persons, who are competent in English. Most others, who claim to know English, demonstrate only limited output with inadequate vocabulary, restricted phraseology, and replete with formulaic expressions. Such people are between the Intermediate-Mid to Advanced-Low level proficiency on the ACTFL scale.
- As one moves from metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Bangalore to smaller towns, one is likely to experience even much-reduced competence in English.
- As the international business is now entering into rural markets of India, challenges of efficient communication can be overwhelming if the knowledge of the local language is not added to the repertoire.
- The use of business Hindi extends beyond oral interactions. There are business newspapers and TV business channels in Hindi, which present articles, interviews, and discussions about India’s business at different levels. Hindi newspapers and TV channels often present perspectives on domestic issues, which are sometimes different from the English language media. Authors of Hindi articles and participants in panel discussions on Hindi TV channels can get into greater depth of the topic in hand to present unique indigenous perspectives. Speaking in native tongues brings in unique outlooks and assessments of the situation at hand.
- If anyone wants to develop a good business relationship in a foreign country, understanding and speaking the language of local people is a valuable asset. The use of the local language is the best means of connecting with people. In the multilingual context of India, Hindi, which is much more widely understood and spoken throughout the country, is an excellent choice.
In light of the above, those who want to succeed in India’s business market would do much better if they know the local language as well as the cultural norms of its usage.
It is highly recommended that American students and corporate employees, who are considering to work in India even for a short period, should plan to have adequate proficiency in business Hindi. A good target for all foreigners would be Advanced-Mid to Superior level proficiency, depending on one’s anticipated needs.
|October 28, 2014||Surendra Gambhir
University of Pennsylvania