Learn to Speak Uyghur – at Home
You won’t find any dedicated Uyghur phrasebooks at your local bookstore and nobody produces a “UyghurPod” podcast for students. Basically if you want to learn Uyghur outside of Xinjiang you will need to attend one of the few universities that offer Uyghur classes…or you’ll have to teach yourself.
Either way, the following is a great reference to help you decide the best way to move forward in your study of the Uyghur language.
Believe it or not, it is possible to take Uyghur language courses in US classrooms. The options are limited but most people aren’t even aware that they exist. If you feel this list is incomplete, please contact me with your suggestions.
The East Asian Languages and Cultures program at Kansas University is quite impressive. In addition to Uyghur there are also options to study Mongolian, Tibetan, Korean, Japanese and…of course…Chinese.
On top of the classes that they offer, there’s also some great free material for use in self study that I’ll talk about in the next section of this article. For more info on Uyghur studies at KU, contact the following: firstname.lastname@example.org
Indiana University claims to be one of the first universities in the US to offer three levels of Uyghur study: two semesters each of introductory, intermediate and advance.
If that sounds a bit overwhelming to you they also have other options. They allow you to substitute a Central Eurasian language for your language requirements or you can choose Uyghur as your minor.
Finally, for those in the ROTC Indiana University has partnered with the Department of Defense for a strategic languages and cultures program. Through this program cadets don’t even need to attend IU as an on-campus student to take part.
University of Washington
The University of Washington offers plenty of Central Asian language courses, including Uzbek, Kazakh and Uyghur. Of the Uyghur courses you can take Intensive Elementary Uyghur all the way up to Advanced Uyghur.
Classes are also offered during the summer term for those who can’t fit it in their regular semester schedule.
If you don’t live near any of these universities or you can’t afford to pay the tuition fees, all is not lost! Many of the above institutions offer free Uyghur resources and there are also a few other options.
The amount of free material offered by the aforementioned institutions is incredible. Don’t believe me? Then check this out:
- Kansas has a free downloadable introduction to Uyghur textbook.
- The University of Washington has a whole page full of free Uyghur resources including audio, video, and Uyghur fonts for computers.
- If you’re like me you usually prefer an actual book in your hands. The Xinjiang University Press has printed a beginners’ textbook for Uyghur available on eBay.
If you’re just looking to have a basic understanding of Uyghur for a short trip to the region, there are also a couple online tools that you might find helpful:
- The The New Dominion has a short series of posts that guide you through some basic phrases you’ll want to learn before traveling.
- Here on FarWestChina I have a Uyghur language guide that features audio clips of a native Uyghur speaking some very useful phrases.
- This Uyghur-English dictionary can be helpful, but only for those who already have an elementary understanding of Uyghur.
Do you have any suggestions for learning Uyghur? Please share them in the comments below and you’ll be entered to win a free Uyghur textbook this Friday!