HISD teacher writes nation's first Hindi textbook

HOUSTON The text, entitled Namaste Jii (Greetings), covers the first two years of high school Hindi and is the equivalent of one year of college-level Hindi. The text includes colorful photos and illustrations and comes with workbooks on CD.

Mr. Prakash said that Namaste Jii took almost eight years to develop using the curriculum that he wrote for his classes at Bellaire and at the University of Houston. Dr. Herman Van Olphen, director of the Hindi Urdu flagship program at the University of Texas at Austin, served as advisor on the book. Dr. Van Olphen is also a Bellaire alumnus.

Very few high schools around the country offer courses in Hindi, but interest is growing since the government recognized a vital need for more speakers of strategically important languages, such as Hindi.

Arun Prakash has been named a Master Teacher by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. This summer he will train 20 prospective educators of Hindi at a workshop in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. That workshop, which runs from June 9 – 20, is funded by a "Startalk" grant as part of the National Security Language Initiative.

"The Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district sent representatives to Bellaire because they were interested in starting a Hindi program in their schools," said Prakash. "They would like to start a program for seventh graders. Next year I hope to bring the teacher training program to the Houston area."

Mr. Prakash's Hindi students at Bellaire are highly sought by the Hindi Urdu Flagship Program at UT, which offers students the opportunity to combine holistic language study with a wide variety of majors and includes a year of study in India.

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