Mobile Menu

Learn the Uyghur Language: A Beginners Textbook Review

March 31 | No Comments

There aren’t a whole lot of resources available for learning the Uyghur language, but if you are planning to live in Xinjiang someday you’re probably desperate for something. What kind of Uyghur textbooks are available?

–>Check pricing for this Uyghur Textbook on<–

Uyghur: A Beginner Textbook by Georgetown University Press

So you’re thinking about learning Uyghur, eh? Perhaps you’ve already seen the FarWestChina Ultimate Guide to Learning the Uyghur Language and want to learn more about this particular textbook.

Late last year Georgetown University Press officially published Uyghur: An Elementary Textbook by Gulnisa Nazarova and Kurban Niyaz.

If you haven’t been able to watch the video review above, here’s a quick summary of my review.

Review of Uyghur: An Elementary Textbook

With over 540 pages and weighing in at around 3 pounds, Uyghur: An Elementary Textbook is by far one of the largest Uyghur textbooks I’ve come across.

The whole book is divided into 15 chapters that touch on the most basic of language topics (introduction, foods, weather, health, etc.) and is geared more towards the classroom than self-study.

I’ve spent almost a month with this textbook and here’s what I see as the various pros and cons:


  • Pictures: Lots of colorful pictures of the Xinjiang province from various travelers
  • Supplemental Materials: In addition to the lesson topics, each chapter also has various additional materials like Uyghur proverbs, historical notes and cultural context.
  • Easy Grammar: explanations of the grammatical structures are simple to follow
  • Relevant Examples: illustrations and exercises all have a Xinjiang or Uyghur flavor to them.


  • Classroom Only: the book format doesn’t work well with self-study, although it could be possible to use it with a tutor
  • Poor CD Quality: the CD that comes along with the book is disappointing. Bad audio and video quality. Also, the audio files aren’t downloadable to use with a mobile phone or mp3 player.


Despite a disappointing supplementary CD, Uyghur: An Elementary Textbook is beautifully laid out and is certainly one of the best tools available for beginners learning the Uyghur language. I’ve even listed it as one of the best books on Xinjiang.

There’s no doubt this textbook will become the default Uyghur text in classrooms everywhere.

For those who need something to guide their one-on-one tutor time or teachers who are looking for a good textbook for their Uyghur class, this is an excellent resource.

About Josh Summers

Josh is the author of Xinjiang | A Traveler's Guide to Far West China, the most highly-reviewed and comprehensive travel guide on China's western region of Xinjiang. He lived, studied and run a business in Xinjiang, China for more than 10 years, earning recognition for his work from CCTV, BBC, Lonely Planet and many others.

Continue Reading: