Out of the frustration of not being able to read signs and menus in Pakistan, I decided to expand my language learning from Hindi into its relative, Urdu. The biggest difference between Hindi and Urdu is just the script they’re written in. Hindi is written in Devanagari and Urdu in Nastaliq.
Below are the best videos I found on YouTube which helped me learn the Urdu alphabet and vowels.
I’ve included multiple videos because it takes multiple views to learn. It helps to mix up teachers and gain different tidbits of information from each.
First, the basics of Urdu writing
- Urdu is written right to left. When practising, start from the right side of the page and focus on writing the actual letters from right to left too.
- There are up to 40 letters.
- It’s made to be written cursively, slanting from top right to left.
- Most letters connect to letters before and after them. Some don’t connect to other letters and are called non-connectors.
- Each letter can be written up to 4 different ways (unfortunate for us learners, but not impossible, you will get the hang of it!).
Before you start, print this alphabet chart out and hang it where you study. You’ll constantly need to look at this and practice it daily for a few weeks to memorise it.
How to learn the Urdu alphabet videos
The first video I used was Language Animated’s. It really helps to have this video open alongside you while writing the letters so you can refer and get the letter names right.
Education Pyramid UAE‘s channel has entire Urdu courses as playlists which I’ve been going through. He’s very good at teaching the Urdu alphabet too.
How to learn Urdu vowels
Vowels in Urdu are very different to English and Hindi. In fact, sometimes they’re omitted altogether from words in Urdu! Like the word Pakistan is written as “Pakstan” with the “i” omitted. Don’t worry, you’ll start to recognise such words as you learn vocabulary!
There are some similarities in English actually, like the word “rhythm.” We’ve always been taught that every English word must have a vowel in it, right? What about “rhythm” though? There’s a “y” there instead of an “i.” So in English, on rare occasions, vowels are substituted or omitted too.
With 2 hours of study per day, you should be able to learn the Urdu alphabet and vowels in 2 weeks. Then you can start learning other forms of the letters (initial, medial, final) and begin to read words.