Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language, spoken mainly in Northern India and Pakistan. Spoken Urdu is mutually intelligible with Hindi, which is the most widely spoken Indian language in the country of India. While some vocabulary and pronunciation vary between Hindi and Urdu, the greatest difference between these two languages is its writing. Hindi uses the Devanagari script, also used to write several other Indian languages, while Urdu is written with a form of the Arabic alphabet. Learn the script as it is used for the Urdu language to be able to read and write out words in Urdu.
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Find a chart of the Arabic alphabet as it is used for Urdu. Though most of the letters in Arabic and Urdu are the same, the names of the letters often vary. You will need to know the appropriate names of the letters for Urdu in order to spell out words and when writing a dictation. The Urdu alphabet also includes extra letters to represent sounds in Urdu that are not present in the Arabic language. The website Omniglot features a chart of the letters in Urdu, as well as their names transliterated in the Latin alphabet.
Learn to write the alphabet. The Urdu script is comprised of four forms of the letters. You will write a letter in a slightly different form depending on where in the word the letter is placed, so that it connects to the next letter. This is similar to the cursive style of writing with the Latin alphabet. Use the chart to identify and practice writing the letters in their four forms. Reading and writing are different skills; in order to reach proficiency in written Urdu, practice writing the letters as much as you can, rather than simply memorising the letters by sight.
Practice reading and writing words. If you already speak Urdu, once you know the sounds of the letters you can sound out words to spell and write them. Listen to Urdu news podcasts, or radio and write what you hear. Have a literate Urdu speaker check your work to make sure you are correctly spelling the words. Read some newspapers in Urdu and copy the words in order to practice the spelling. Watch Urdu films with Urdu subtitles; as you advance in your studies, keep the Urdu subtitles and turn the sound off. This exercise will challenge you to read quickly and recognise whole Urdu words rather than sounding out each letter.
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