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Hindi border design, Shutterstock comp.

From Namaste to Nirvana

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Hindi border design, Shutterstock comp.


Namaste and welcome to Stanford! Nowadays, the greeting Namaste is heard in various places, but what does it really mean? It is something akin to: “I acknowledge your soul” or “I register the divine presence in you.” Quite a unique greeting, right?  

Hello, my name is Sonia Taneja and I am a Lecturer in Hindi at the Stanford Language Center, School of Humanities and Sciences. I teach First, Second and Third year or Advanced Hindi Conversation to undergraduate, graduate, non-native and heritage students. I am passionate about teaching all Hindi language-related skills—speaking, listening, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, culture--and even ways in which Hindi differs significantly from the English language. Each year, I am amazed at how new and returning students tend to grasp many Hindi skills fast and this keeps the class moving ahead at a brisk pace.   

In addition to the textbook, we use a variety of authentic multimedia resources such as Bollywood songs, short and full-length feature films and stories, Quizlet, collaborative and individual activities, and field trips. I tailor the lectures and curricula to meet student learning needs and, each year, we add new and engaging materials to our classes.

Students from many majors such as Computer Science, Political Science, History, Math or even undeclared majors take Hindi classes and that contributes to thought-provoking class discussions. While heritage students take Hindi classes to primarily connect with their culture, non-native students or students who are completely new to Hindi are drawn to it because of their personal and research interests in Indian or world politics, history, economics, culture, religion or spirituality.

I enjoy my teaching role because taking Hindi gives students opportunities to consider a new way of expressing oneself that is completely different from their own, visit India in a more meaningful and richer way and embark on an exploration of the inner workings of an amazing and profound language to reach their version of Nirvana

Sonia Taneja

Lecturer in Hindi
Language Center

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