This UrduPod101 Review is up to date as of Oct 18th, 2021.
Urdu is a language spoken by an estimated 170 million people in mainly Muslim communities in Pakistan, India, the UK, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
Though systematic and orderly in word construction and sentence structure, Urdu is written from right to left. This can prove challenging to many who are used to a left to right system. There are informal and formal verbs, and nouns are either masculine or feminine. Similarly to English, it has an array of words with irregular spellings with no real pattern.
Spoken Urdu is nearly identical to Hindi for everyday matters; however, they are written in different scripts.
This means that Urdu and Hindi speakers can understand each other in conversation, but not in written language. In order to master this somewhat challenging language, a comprehensive language learning program is essential. Read on for our honest UrduPod101 review.
UrduPod101 Review: Summary
Overall Score: 4.0
UrduPod101 Review: Overview
Signing up for UrduPod101 is as simple as entering your email address and making up a password. Once you do, you have access to UrduPod101 Premium for free for seven days and a free lifetime account. This grants you access to:
Should you choose to further your learning, you can upgrade to any of three monthly subscription packages. These subscriptions allow access to UrduPod101’s extensive library of thousands of lessons, daily mini-lessons delivered to your email, tips on quickly mastering Urdu, and even one-on-one instruction.
The Pros: What We Liked About UrduPod101
As you can see from our review summary, we highly recommend this course for those who are serious about learning Urdu. Here are 3 reasons we liked it:
Pro #1: Variety of Lessons
There are quite a few different teaching methods within UrduPod101 and this means that no matter your desired learning technique or pace, there will be something for you. You do not have to listen to hours of a repetitive podcast or watch endless videos with obsolete scenarios. UrduPod101 keeps courses fresh and interesting to keep you motivated.
Pro #2: All Skill Types Included
From the lesson library you can filter through all the possible lessons by category and skill type, allowing you to focus on your specific weaknesses whether they be reading, writing, speaking or listening. Unfortunately you won’t be able to get full feedback on speaking skills without working with an actual tutor (only included in the PremiumPLUS subscription). However, for all the other skills there’s many interesting topics to choose from that actually teach those skills specifically.
Pro #3: Comprehensive Lessons and Study Tools
There are loads of different ways to study and commit Urdu to memory. You will find interactive quizzes, custom word lists, audio dictionaries, voice recording tools, and vocabulary slide shows. Not only are these tools fun, but they are designed to lead you to fluency in Urdu in a logical progression.
Pro #4: Learning Flexibility
Since you can download apps for your mobile, listen to podcasts, and use study tools on your desktop, you study whenever and wherever you like – even without wifi! Furthermore, the methodology of the program is one of customizability. You personally have full control over your syllabus and can choose what to improve upon, allowing you to study the way you learn best.
The Cons: What We Didn’t Like About UrduPod101
All that said, the program isn’t perfect. Here are a few things that we didn’t love about it:
Con #1: Somewhat Expensive
Though the free and Basic subscription plans offer thorough instruction and practice with learning Urdu, to get the full effect, you will need to upgrade to the Premium or PremiumPLUS subscriptions. Though the cost is still negligible when compared to the cost of a course at a university, it may be a little steep for those on a budget.
Con #2: Very Small Community
Urdu does not seem to be a popular language to learn, and as such the online community of language learners is rather small. This could limit one’s potential to practice speaking Urdu with others. Still, if speaking practice is desired, you can get it with a PremiumPLUS subscription.
Con #3: Too Much English
Though not a deal-breaker, I’d personally like to see more immersion into the language itself rather than videos and podcasts that talk about the language a lot in English. This really depends upon your preference and it’s important to strike the right balance between being exposed to new content in context and ensuring you understand it’s usage, cultural background and grammar rules.
One can lead to confusion and the other to boredom, with the optimal ground keeping you challenged yet still aware of what’s being taught and how to use it. Unfortunately, I felt that there was a little too much explaining going on, without enough authentic language for you to form your own patterns of how the language works. That being said, this learning style will suit many people who want a direct explanation of how the language works.
What are the lessons like?
The lessons are built in a way that helps you to easily and quickly pick up the language. They are available via video, podcast, interactive tools and quizzes.
Not only are the lessons engaging and entertaining, but they also provide you with bits of culture surrounding the Urdu language. This gives you a well-rounded experience in learning the language.
There are five levels to choose from including Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Absolute Beginner will start you out with pronunciation practice and lead you up to basic introductions, ‘thank you’, ‘you’re welcome’, ‘hello’ etc. Progressing through the levels increases your knowledge and fluency.
Some Sample Lessons - A Sneak Peek
To give you a better idea of what to expect, we’ve broken down three example lesson pathways that you have the option to take, for 3 different levels.
Pathway: ‘Level 2 Urdu’ – The official curated pathway for Level 2, aligning with level A1-A2 of the CEFR framework.
Content: The official pathway for level 2 consists of over four and half hours of audio content split across 25 lessons. The topics range from shopping to making appointments, cooking and meeting people in the street (all useful situations). After every lesson or two there’s an assessment, either hand graded or multiple choice, to test you on what you’ve learnt. The language content and grammar is slowly filtered in throughout the lessons, teaching you about numbers, expressing feelings, possessives, past tense etc.
Extra Vocab Tools & Features
Everyone learns differently, so it really helps to have lots of different options to choose from when learning a new language, especially when it comes to memorizing new vocabulary. Thankfully, UrduPod101 has a few different built in tools to help you build up your bank of vocabulary.
Spaced Repetition Flashcards
Spaced Repetition Flashcards help you to increase your vocabulary in a fun way by choosing from a specific set of premade flashcards and testing yourself through an interactive game – connecting the image or English word to its Urdu equivalent, and vice-versa. You can even create your own flashcard decks and track your progress with the daily stats.
Similarly to the flashcards, there’s hundreds of pre-made lists of vocabulary for you to explore. This is where you can start to see how UrduPod101 sets itself apart from other programs by including a massive range of trendy and interesting topics. For example ‘Urdu Quotes about Love’, ‘Pakistan Tourist Attractions’ and ‘Most Common Texting Slang’. Each list is almost a whole lesson in its own right!
Urdu Word Bank
Your word bank is where you can save any vocabulary you want during any of the lessons or time spent browsing flashcards and vocab lists. You can categorise them, add labels and export your entire list at any time.
Most Common Words List
A super handy list which allows you to cut through all the obsolete language and go straight for the jugular – the most used words. If you’re someone who hates to waste time and just wants to learn only the most used words and basic building blocks in the language, then this list is for you. You can filter by category and even reduce the list to only the 100 most common words in Urdu.
Word of the Day Emails
A free service that you can opt into. They will email you every day with a new word, it’s cultural background and how it is used in context. A great way to keep you ticking along with continuous learning.
Who Is UrduPod101 Good For?
In our opinion, UrduPod101 is a great option to learn Urdu for those who:
Who Shouldn’t Buy UrduPod101?
Language learning programs are rarely one-size-fits-all. Though we think most will benefit from UrduPod101, those who may struggle include those who:
UrduPod101 vs. Competition
We were hard pressed to find much in the way of a comprehensive Urdu courses online. There are loads of YouTube videos claiming to teach you to speak Urdu as you drive or otherwise listen in. However, we could not verify whether these videos were made by certified language teachers or not. Youtube and free podcasts can be a good option to test the waters in a new language, but we recommend a structured course for serious language learning.
There were multiple free websites like ilanguages.org that offer loads of phrases and vocabulary words. Some sites even allow you to hear how the word or phrase is pronounced. Though this type of tool is useful in conjunction with a comprehensive Urdu course or if you simply need to quickly find the words to ask something in Urdu, it will not build a foundation to learn a language.
UrduPod101 vs. Mangolanguages.com
One of the few competitors we found was mangolanguages.com.
These lessons focus on salutations, food, drink, transportation, money and compliments. The goals of these lessons are to be able to speak conversationally with others in Urdu.
Grammar goals of these lessons include being introduced to nouns, verbs and adjectives and to learn sentence structure.
To advance beyond a beginner level, you will need to find another course.
Is it Worth the Money?
The short answer is: Yes. With the largest Urdu lesson library in the world (over 150 hours of lessons by native tutors), we think UrduPod101 is 100% worth the money for anyone who is serious about mastering the Urdu language.
When you consider costs associated with taking a university course in Urdu, UrduPod101’s PremiumPlus option (which includes a tutor) represents very good value.
If you’re unsure, they offer a 7-day free trial:
Exclusive 30% Off Coupon Code For Our Readers
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the Pod101 courses. I’ve been using them for years, and some of our other writers have become converts when testing the courses for reviews.
We approached the makers of UrduPod101 and they offered our readers an exclusive 30% discount if you sign up through this link:
You can check this page for the latest UrduPod101 Coupons and Discounts.
UrduPod101 Review Final Thoughts
UrduPod101 is one of the very few in-depth courses available to learn Urdu on your own time. Aside from private instruction or a university level course, you will not find a better independent study course online. Though it is a bit pricey, we think it’s worth the money for serious students.
You will have access to the most extensive Urdu lesson library we could find and can learn at your own pace.
Michael has lived in Japan on and off for almost 10 years. He loves studying Japanese, and is currently working on going from N2 to N1 on the JLPT.