Pallavi Singh – Hindi lessons for foreigners, Mumbai
Young female entrepreneur hired by the US State Department at the age of 23
This youngest speaker at TEDx believes that “To protect a language is to protect a human civilization”
Pallavi Singh, a Hindi Teacher based in Mumbai focuses on Hindi Lessons for Foreigners, a one-of-its-kind initiative in India that’s aimed at training the expat community in Hindi. Pallavi has taught over 650 expats, exchange students and also a few celebrities like author and historian William Dalrymple, actor Jacqueline Fernandez, Canadian opera singer Natalie Di Luccio and Australian actor-model Lucinda Nicholas. Pallavi is affiliated with the diplomatic missions of countries like Canada, Australia, Spain, and Belgium, and serves as their on-board Hindi tutor.
How long does it take to teach Hindi to a foreigner?
I require 25 hours, with due diligence and sincerity to make someone “functionally fluent” in Hindi.
Who was your first student?
My first student was a University of Delhi exchange student from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I have taught 650+ students so far.
What was your childhood like? How did your journey as a Hindi teacher begin?
My childhood was amazing, a typical North Indian middle-class upbringing with Government employees as parents – which means I was raised with limited sustainable means and was taught to value money and opportunity.
You are retained by various consulates. How did you approach them in the first place?
My opportunities came knocking to me… I was hired by the US State Department when I was 23. Then others followed, I will always have a special spot for the State Department in my life and continue to be at their service no matter what.
Do your modules differ from expats to students or diplomats to artists and so on?
Artists have time limitations as they have different roles to prepare for, whereas diplomats and students can take it easy as they know they have a decent couple of years to acquire and cultivate the language.
What makes your teaching style unique?
My teaching pedagogy and proprietary modules. I also employ lots of humour to keep the class atmosphere light and pepped up.
Did any student dropout in the middle of the course?
Yes, students do drop out – work commitments take over, family priorities hijack personal time, India contract comes to an end. Almost no one ever dropped out because they “hated” going to Hindi Class.
What is your experience of teaching celebrities?
It is humbling, extremely unique as I never thought I would get approached by and have access to such big celebrities through my work.
In your opinion what’s the importance of languages?
Language provides various catalysts for its speakers and civilization. One of its many uses is “Communication”. To protect a language is to protect a human civilization.
In today’s time do you think the younger generation in India wants to learn Hindi or would they prefer learning foreign language?
There is no harm in learning different languages, one shouldn’t feel ashamed to be speaking a certain one. I understand we are a subservient economy which produces manpower (only) and hence better “moulded” the workforce, the better. But amidst all this – one should always maintain a fine balance.
You were a speaker at TEDx. How was the experience?
It was surreal, being the youngest with no fancy college degree to list, I realize talent surpasses education, religion, nationality and age.
Your advice for our readers….
Do what resonates as right for you. Your strongest asset is your gut and moral compass.