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Urdu is a living language which, according to estimates, is spoken by close to 100 million people around the world. It is the official language of Pakistan, a status which it shares with English. It is also spoken and understood in parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Middle East, and many other countries around the world where Pakistani communities have settled.

In India, Urdu is spoken in places with large Muslim communities or cities that were once power centres of Muslim Empires. They include parts of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Kashmir, Bhopal and Hyderabad. Some Indian schools teach Urdu as a first language and have their own syllabus and exams.

The Urdu community in the UK numbers about four hundred thousand speakers.

The closest relation of Urdu is Hindi. Spoken Urdu and Hindi are almost identical at the day-to-day functional level, apart from certain words. After learning Urdu, you’ll find it much easier to speak and understand Hindi but written Hindi will remain a mystery as it’s written in a different script.

Other languages written in the same script as Urdu include Pashto, Kashmiri and Panjabi, although Panjabi is also written in a script called Gurumukhi. The Urdu script is over 90% similar to the Persian and Arabic scripts as well, so learning Urdu will help you to read the Arabic and Persian alphabets. Urdu vocabulary also borrows about 40% from Arabic and Persian.

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/urdu/guide/facts.shtml

Key subject aims and objectives

The aims and objectives of this qualification are to enable students to:

  • Develop their ability to communicate confidently and coherently with native speakers in speech and writing, conveying what they want to say with increasing accuracy.
  • Express and develop thoughts and ideas spontaneously and fluently listen to and understand clearly articulated, standard speech at near normal speed.
  • Deepen their knowledge about how language works and enrich their vocabulary in order for them to increase their independent use and understanding of extended language in a wide range of contexts.
  • Acquire new knowledge, skills and ways of thinking through the ability to understand and respond to a rich range of authentic spoken and written material, adapted and abridged, as appropriate, including literary texts.
  • Develop awareness and understanding of the culture and identity of the countries and communities where the language is spoken.
  • Be encouraged to make appropriate links to other areas of the curriculum to enable bilingual and deeper learning, where the language may become a medium for constructing and applying knowledge.
  • Develop language-learning skills both for immediate use and to prepare them for further language study and use in school, higher education or employment
  • Develop language strategies, including repair strategies.

Each topic has been highlighted in bold. All topics must be studied in the context of both the students’ home country and that of countries and communities where Urdu is spoken.

Theme 1: Identity and culture

  • Who am I?: relationships; when I was younger; what my friends and family are like; what makes a good friend; interests; socialising with friends and family; role models.
  • Daily life: customs and everyday life; food and drink; shopping; social media and technology (use of, advantages and disadvantages).
  • Cultural life: celebrations and festivals; reading; music; sport; film and television

Theme 2: Local area, holiday and travel

  • Holidays: preferences; experiences; destinations.
  • Travel and tourist transactions: travel and accommodation; asking for help and dealing with problems; directions; eating out; shopping.
  • Town, region and country: weather; places to see; things to do

Theme 3: School

  • What school is like: school types; school day; subjects; rules and pressures; celebrating success.
  • School activities: school trips; events and exchanges

Theme 4: Future aspirations, study and work

  • Using languages beyond the classroom: forming relationships; travel; employment.
  • Ambitions: further study; volunteering; training.
  • Work: jobs; careers and professions

Theme 5: International and global dimension

  • Bringing the world together: sports events; music events; campaigns and good causes.
  • Environmental issues: being ‘green’; access to natural resources.

Knowledge and understanding

Urdu requires students to develop their knowledge of vocabulary and structure in a range of settings.

  • Are relevant and of interest to the student
  • Correspond to the student’s level of maturity
  • Reflect, and are appropriate to, the culture of countries and communities where the language is spoken
  • Relate, where appropriate, to other area of curriculum


Students continue to develop their skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in the target language. They are encouraged to work independently, in pairs, in groups or as a class, on various tasks. Students are expected to do homework and to learn vocabulary on a regular basis. There are end of unit/ task tests in which all skills are tested.

Students in year 7 are introduced to the alphabet and taught basic reading and writing skills.

Students in year 8/ 9 study the following topics personal identification, family, education, house and home, food and drink, health and fitness , shopping, hobbies and interest and weather and climate.


The edexcel GCSE in Urdu consist of four units based on the following skills: speaking listening, reading and writing.

The GCSE combines controlled assessments of speaking and writing skills foundation or higher tier external assessments for the listening and reading skills.



Urdu qualification requires students to:

  • Develop the ability to listen and understand spoken Urdu in arrange of contexts and variety of styles
  • Communicate in speech for a variety of purposes
  • Read and respond to different types of written language
  • Communicate in writing for a variety of purposes
  • Understand and apply a range of vocabulary and structures
  • Develop language learning and communication skills which can be applied broadly

The following topics are covered for reading/listening

Out and about

  • Visitor information
  • Basic weather
  • Local amenities
  • Accommodation
  • Public transport
  • Directions

Customer service and transactions

  • Cafés and restaurants
  • Shops
  • Dealing with problems

Personal information

  • General interests
  • Leisure activities
  • Family and friends
  • Lifestyle (healthy eating and exercise)

Future plans, education and work

  • Basic language of the internet
  • Simple job advertisements
  • Simple job applications and CV - School and college
  • Work and work experience

Speaking and writing

  • develop the ability to listen to and understand spoken Urdu in a range of contexts and a variety of styles
  • communicate in speech and writing for a variety of purposes
  • understand and apply a range of vocabulary and structures
  • develop language learning and communication skills which can be applied broadly

Topics which are covered for speaking and writing

Media and culture

  • Music/film/reading
  • Fashion/celebrities/religion
  • Blogs/internet

Sport and leisure

  • Hobbies/interests
  • Sporting events
  • Lifestyle choices

Travel and tourism

  • Holidays
  • Accommodation
  • Eating, food, drink

Business, work and employment

  • Work experience/part-time jobs
  • Product or service information

Grammar and vocabulary

Pupils are taught to:

  • consolidate and build on their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary through:
    • studying their effectiveness and impact in the texts they read
    • drawing on new vocabulary and grammatical constructions from their reading and listening, and using these consciously in their writing and speech to achieve particular effects

Urdu G.C.S.E is a two year course, students either be entered to do the short course or the full course.

Full course consist of reading, .speaking, listening, writing.

Short course consist of listening and speaking or they can do writing and reading.