8 Best And Worst Online Urdu Courses For 2021

  • Johann Brennan
    Written byJohann Brennan
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8 Best And Worst Online Urdu Courses For 2021

Looking for the best online Urdu course to learn the language?

Urdu is rising in popularity, as more and more course options are being released.

In addition to tourism and foreign language careers, the benefits of speaking Urdu cannot be overstated.

Today I’m going to give you my rundown of the best (and worst) online Urdu courses.

Below you’ll find pros and cons for each Urdu course, pricing and a summary. Where applicable, I’ll link to a review of the course.

IMPORTANT: Some of the items listed below are probably only loosely defined as “courses” for Urdu. The reason I’ve included them is that they’re popular enough Urdu tools and therefore should be included.

DISCLAIMER: The comments below are personal opinions and some affiliate links are used.

The best Urdu courses online (most popular Urdu resources)

1. UrduPod101

UrduPod101

Cost: Starts as low as $4 a month.

Summary: UrduPod101 is a brilliant online resource for learning Urdu (especially listening comprehension). If you’re into podcast learning especially, this might be the course for you.

UrduPod101 uses audio lessons similar to podcasts. Lessons are suitable for beginners through more advanced levels. The instruction not only includes listening skills but also incorporates essential vocabulary and grammar with loads of other useful features.

What I like:

  • Large and always expanding variety of Urdu lesson material
  • Clean lesson interface and downloadable content

What I don’t like:

  • Content choices are sparse beyond the beginner level
  • Too much English banter
  • While the lesson interface is nice, the rest of the site is overwhelming and confusing to navigate

UNIQUE OFFER: Use the code MEZZOGUILD to save 25% on any of their Urdu course options.


2. italki

italki

Cost: Prices vary widely

Summary: italki connects learners with tutors, teachers and conversation partners. As with similar services, it doesn’t a curriculum or content to instructors - just facilitates.

The good thing about italki is their vetted onboarding process for teachers which ensures quality. italki has earned its amazing reputation.

Teachers succeed on italki through client feedback, meaning subpar teachers simply will not cut it on the platform.

What I like:

  • Facilitates great connections with expert teachers.

What I don’t like:

  • No set curriculum means you could be paired with an inexperienced new teacher not yet weeded out by italki’s review system.

3. Memrise

Memrise Urdu

Cost: Free

Summary: Memrise moved its free “community” courses to a site called Memrise a while back, while it continues to run a premium subscription on the original Memrise site.

From what I see, Memrise is identical to what Memrise use to offer.

Memrise are 100% free community-added courses (Urdu and others) in the form of a gamified flashcard deck. You select a language or dialect, then go through a flashcard game of “watering plants”. It’s highly addictive and actually quite effective.

Some courses are excellent but not all courses are good. Look for ones that include audio and ones that teach phrases rather than single words.

See my video on downloading Memrise to Anki.

What I like:

  • It’s an effective memorization tool for phrases and words.
  • The addictive nature of the game gets you coming back often to continue learning.
  • It’s all free.
  • There are loads of community-driven courses to choose from.

What I don’t like:

  • As it’s community-driven, you can’t always guarantee quality.

4. Transparent Language

Transparent Language Urdu

Cost: Pricing varies

Summary: Transparent is one of the most surprising online Urdu courses I’ve tried.

The system and interface are antiquated and slow which is a real drawback, but if you can look past it, Transparent Language provides a real depth of Urdu course content.

The voice recognition comparison is non-existent in Transparent Language. It relies on recording on your voice and showing you your sound wave to compare with the native speaker’s sound wave.

No inbuilt system to automatically compare sounds.

The Transparent Language course has a “Produce it. Say it.” section that literally asks you “Were you right?”.

In other words, no way to automatically detect whether you were correct or not – it relies on your own determination. This is incredibly outdated.

Overall, if you can look past the outdated design and deficient voice recording aspect, Transparent Language Urdu is an outstanding course option.

What I like:

  • Urdu dialogue is 100% natural speed
  • Extensive coverage and depth of content

What I don’t like:

  • Outdated and slow interface that’s a pain to navigate
  • Pronunciation section has no inbuilt voice recognition to compare to native dialogue

5. uTalk

uTalk Urdu

Cost: $4.99 monthly per language, $9.99 for all 140 languages, $99.99 for a lifetime subscription

Summary: uTalk is essentially a fancy flashcard app, an alternative to Memrise and a great way to learn words and phrases in hundreds of different languages.

There are thousands of potential language pair combinations and tons of native speaker audio recordings with picture associations.

What I like:

  • Authentic native speaker audio
  • Hundreds of available languages
  • Thousands of potential language combinations
  • Easily affordable

What I don’t like:

  • Sloppy UI
  • Games are mediocre
  • Broad approach that isn’t tailored for specific languages

6. Mango Languages

Mango Urdu

Cost: $7.99 a month

Summary: Mango Languages has implemented what I believe to be one of the best ‘chunking’ approaches in its course style I’ve ever seen (very close to my own successful method). It does this by avoiding grammar Urdu explanations and instead highlighting lexical chunks in colors to help you learn language patterns.

One of the best features I’ve seen in a language product. Period.

The only problem with Mango is that it’s quite lightweight on its course depth. If they developed an advanced course for Urdu, I’d be a raging fan.

What I like:

  • Beautifully designed Urdu course
  • Focuses on lexical chunks (color coded) rather than rules which is how I prefer to learn

What I don’t like:

  • Minimal grammar focus
  • Lack of content depth for higher-level learners

7. Pimsleur Urdu

Pimsleur Urdu

Cost: $14.95 a month subscription (or $119.95 per level)

Summary: Pimsleur’s a household name for learning Urdu using spaced repetition recall. The lessons focus on practical vocabulary and expressions one might need in various scenarios. This includes greetings, common phrases, and vocabulary you might need when talking to native speakers.

In terms of just how much you get out of it, I’d say Pimsleur is a good entry point for Urdu but it will only familiarize you with the basics. Treat its Urdu course as a foundational course and then move on to something more comprehensive.

Pimsleur does not offer any video or written content. It’s audio only.

Read this Pimsleur review.

What I like:

  • Pimsleur was based on solid research in second language acquisition.
  • Extremely effective method despite its age.
  • Heavy repetition of Urdu language samples.

What I don’t like:

  • Outdated scenario examples.
  • Too much English.

8. Living Language Urdu

Living Language Urdu

Cost: Starts from $25

Summary: I was never a fan of Living Language when I reviewed it several years ago. I’m including it on this list because it is one of the big names and most popular courses for Urdu (plus I get asked about it from time to time).

I found Living Language to be bland, incorrectly levelled and just a very uninspiring grammar-heavy course.

What I like:

  • Very thorough in its grammar explanations

What I don’t like:

  • Incorrect levelling – especially for higher levels
  • Trashing of competitors in its marketing is extremely off-putting

Summary: Best online Urdu courses

This pretty much sums up every online Urdu course option currently available (if I missed one, let me know!).

In addition to an Urdu course, make sure you’re getting regular Urdu practice with native speakers.

For that, italki is the easiest way to find really inexpensive practice partners and tutors.

Just remember that even if you have all the courses on this list, you’ll still fail at Urdu without the right motivation, and even a poor Urdu course can be effective in the hands of someone with the right amount of determination to succeed.

For tips on how to learn Urdu and overcoming various language learning struggles, subscribe below by ‘Joining the Guild’ (select Urdu as your target language).


Know of an Urdu course that I didn’t mention?

Share it below in the comment section.

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Icelandic
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