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Best App to Learn Urdu and Nastaliq – The Ultimate Urdu Learning Resource Guide

Best Apps Urdu

Did you know that Urdu holds a significant place as one of the most poetic languages in the world? It’s also one of the top 10 most spoken languages in the world.

Serving as the official language of Pakistan and one of India’s official languages, Urdu boasts a rich heritage. Whether you’re captivated by its poetic verses, intrigued by its literary treasures, or fascinated by its intricate script, delving into learning Urdu promises a journey filled with discovery and fascination.

However, navigating through resources and ways to learn Urdu online can be quite challenging. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you, meticulously testing various resources to compile the best apps to learn Urdu along with recommendations on courses to avoid.

Ready to explore the top apps, courses, podcasts, YouTube channels, and other media for mastering Urdu and its script, Nastaliq? Keep reading to discover more!

Resources for Learning Urdu Online

Whether it’s courses, podcasts, apps, or poetry readers you’re looking for, we’ve found plenty for you to pick from.

Learning the Urdu Script

The sleekly designed Aamozish will teach you the Urdu script and pronunciation in a free online course. Each unit is bite-sized, while the quizzes will check exactly how much you remember.

Ukindia is a step-by-step breakdown of how to add vowel marks, distinguish between letters written at the start and end of words, and more. While the presentation is dated (there’s even the option of purchasing lessons on a floppy disk), the explanations are extremely beginner-friendly.

This guide from the National Council of Urdu Language has some useful exercises and example words, although you’ll have to use Flash for some of them to work.

You’ll also find a breakdown here, courtesy of Professor Frances Pritchett at the University of Columbia. It could be overwhelming if you’re completely new to the script, but it’s a great reference point for once you’ve got some familiarity. There are also grammar guides.

Hugo Coolens has uploaded detailed, print-friendly guides to the Urdu script, along with some practice activities.

Of course, sometimes there’s nothing better than copying how someone else writes. Try watching this YouTube video to see what direction your strokes should go in and where exactly the placement is.

Feeling like you’re being thrown into the deep end? The BBC’s guide to Urdu will give you a useful English-language, non-academic overview.

You might like to pair these guides with this detailed, technical pronunciation guide. It won’t be much help, however, if you’re completely new to linguistics.

Online Urdu Classes and Language Exchanges

Online Classes

A teacher can help you practice speaking and listening, structure your learning, and provide more detailed grammatical explanations. Fortunately, you don’t have to be in Pakistan or India to take Urdu classes.

With italki, you can try Urdu classes with numerous teachers, all with their own learning styles. Plus, the italki mobile app will let you take part in forum discussions and upload writing samples and audio recordings for community feedback. (Although we’d like it even more if you could upload writing samples from the website as well.)

If italki’s not to your liking, try Preply. It also has a large range of teachers to choose from, although you have to buy at least five classes at a time with a specific teacher (after the trial lesson). We were also put off by how they pay their teachers.

You could also try Verbling. It has a much smaller selection of teachers, but we prefer its payment processing options to those of both italki and Preply.

Community Forums

Not interested in one-to-one classes, but would like someone to answer a question? Try HiNative, a Q&A platform for language learners. If you post your question there, hopefully, someone from the community will be able to help you out. Bear in mind that, as a community-based app, you’re not guaranteed a response – but then again, the basic features are free. Here’s what we thought of it.

If you don’t get any answers on HiNative, Reddit has an active Urdu subreddit.

Language Exchanges

For improving your fluency, there’s nothing like using the language in everyday conversations. Enter the language exchange apps, with three of the biggest ones being HelloTalk, Speaky, and Tandem. We’ve previously reviewed all three of them: HelloTalk, Speaky, Tandem.

The good thing about language exchanges is how much easier they make it to meet Urdu speakers – no matter where in the world you are. On the other hand, you might struggle to find someone as interested in an in-depth conversation as you are. And, given that it’s an exchange, you should also be prepared to speak in other languages.

Online and App-Based Urdu Language Courses

You won’t find Urdu on Duolingo or Rosetta Stone, but there are some alternatives worth checking out.

Darvazah was designed to be the equivalent of a year’s worth of free Urdu-language university-level tuition. The videos are actually from a Hindi-language course, however. It still offers value, but bear in mind that some of the vocabularies might not be a native Urdu speaker’s first choice.

Mango Languages focuses on getting you to speak, listen to, and build your own Urdu sentences. We think it’s a good choice for beginner and lower-intermediate learners. Plus, if you’re struggling with your pronunciation, you’ll be able to record yourself and then play that over a native speaker’s recording. This can help you spot when you’re not quite saying those vowels right.

Pimsleur is also concentrated on speaking and listening practice. We like how it gets you talking straight away, but it can be less fun than other courses.

With UrduPod101, you’ll get access to Urdu audio and video courses. In our experience, it has an impressive range of material, but there’s no structured syllabus so you’ll probably want to use it alongside a textbook or other course.

You’ll also find several Urdu courses on Udemy. While they’re generally fairly affordable, the quality and course length can vary immensely. We recommend reading through the course-specific reviews before purchasing.

If you’re looking for a Duolingo-style phone app, you’ve got several options. Ling is a gamified app with options for writing and speaking as well as learning vocabulary. We found it to be light on grammar explanations and best for beginners.

Memrise is another popular option. While there are no official Memrise Urdu courses, there are plenty of community-made ones on everything from the alphabet and directions to poetry. It’s worth trying a few out since the quality can vary a lot. You can find out more about Memrise here.

You could also try Mondly. We didn’t find it to be very interesting, even with the gamification, and were unconvinced by the structure of the syllabus. However, you can use it to learn Urdu from Hindi, Arabic, and many more languages.

Language Courses to Avoid

Despite Urdu courses being hard to come by, we wouldn’t waste our time or money on these ones.

Instant Immersion promotes itself as a Rosetta Stone competitor. Generally, though, their courses lack structure and overload you with information. We think there are better options available.

17 Minute Languages sounds promising, but when we tried it, we came across lots of mistakes, glitches, and bad translations. There’s no point learning phrases if they’re incorrect.

Transparent Language bills itself as a course, but we don’t think you’ll be able to make your own sentences or have a conversation after finishing it. We also found it dull and monotonous.

As for Cudoo, it has the dubious honor of being our worst-reviewed course ever. In our experience, not only is it boring and the syllabus incredibly sparse, but there are also no explanations. And frankly, we just don’t think you would be able to communicate effectively after taking this course.

Urdu Vocabulary Builders and Word Games

There are few things more frustrating than having an opinion about what everyone’s talking about but not knowing the right words to express it. Improving your vocabulary will help you talk more precisely and about a wider range of topics. Fortunately, apps and websites can help you to discover and memorize new words.

The word lists and games on Digital Dialects will get beginner Urdu learners to memorize colors, numbers, food, and calendar-based vocabulary. You can choose whether it tests you on recognition of the written script or an audio recording.

Urdujini has a fun hangman game that will test your word recall and spelling. You can select the category if you want to focus on a specific topic.

If you’re just preparing for a trip and don’t actually want to learn Urdu, you might like uTalk. This phrasebook memorization app will help you learn the key phrases for everything from shopping and food to the summer Olympics and maintaining military peace. Some of the phrases aren’t exactly how a native speaker would speak, but in our experience, you’ll still be understood – and you get to hear yourself speaking Urdu.

Learn Urdu Quickly (only available on Android) is a similar option. It has a more limited selection of phrases, and the practice drills are less varied. However, we like that you can learn Urdu phrases from a range of common languages across India, Europe, and East Asia, including Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, and Telugu.

You might come across the Simply Learn Urdu app. However, you have to pay to access a lot of the word lists, and it’s from the same company that developed Ling, the app-based course we mentioned in the last section. Since Ling will also help you practice speaking, we would be tempted to choose that over Simply Learn Urdu.

With Lingohut, you’ll get access to word and phrase lists on 125 different topics. It’s free and contains audio recordings but can sometimes be let down by its one-size-fits-all-languages approach.

You’ll also find basic word and phrase lists on learn101.org, My Languages, and 50 Languages. While none of them leave us overly impressed, they can be an easy way to find new vocabulary.

Even with all these options, you might find your best option is to make your own flashcard decks or borrow one from another Urdu-learner. While there’s always the pen-and-paper option, we recommend trying an app like Anki so you can practice wherever you are. It adapts to how difficult you find specific words, and you can browse shared decks here (there are several Urdu ones to choose from).

And, of course, the more you read, write, and listen to Urdu, the more words you’ll come across and the quicker you’ll remember them.

Urdu Language Podcasts

More of an audio learner? Not keen on textbooks? Try the Urdu Seekhiye podcast, in which Shireen, Travis, Sara, and other guests break down some of the basics of Urdu. Each episode is fairly short, with most of them between 15 and 30 minutes long.

Alternatively, in Bachpan Ki Kahaniyan, Mahwash narrates Urdu stories. It’s designed for children but is an accessible way for upper-beginner and lower-intermediate students to practice their listening.

Doorbean is another podcast that’s designed for children but also has value for adult Urdu learners. The hosts speak to children about current affairs, sports, culture, science, and more. All episodes are coffee-break-sized, with very few of them exceeding eight minutes.

If you like Bachpan Ki Kahaniyan but want something designed for adults, try Urdu Adab. It’s intended for people with limited Urdu proficiency. The episodes range from roughly 15 to 30 minutes in length and focus on short stories and poetry.

Fluent in Urdu? SBS Urdu is designed for Urdu speakers in Australia and is updated on a daily basis. Or, you can listen to Urdu-language lectures on the Qur’an by Dr. Israr Ahmad here.

Practice Urdu on YouTube

We’ve already mentioned UrduPod101 under the language course section. They also have a YouTube channel with hundreds of videos.

Urdu Academy Jakarta is rarely updated but has plenty of beginner Urdu videos on both grammar and basic vocabulary.

freeTaleem has some Urdu grammar and writing series. Advanced Urdu learners might also like his physics and programming tutorials.

This 44-episode playlist from Education Pyramid UAE is designed for Urdu beginners.

Learn Urdu Through English has a lot of videos; unfortunately, many of them are based on memorizing Urdu sentences rather than learning how the language functions.

Once you’ve got a grip of the basics, Urdu Kids can be an easy transition into watching Urdu-language videos.

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