Updated: Sep 14
Here at Launch India, we have people studying Indian languages for a variety of reasons. Some of us are eager to do business in the local language. Others are closely related to native Hindi Urdu speakers. Most want to enrich their lives by opening up the opportunity for deep relationships with Indians. And all want to do so in a way that is fun and effective.
So Why Use the Growing Participator Approach (GPA) to Learn Hindi Urdu?
People use the GPA to learn Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and other Indian languages because it is highly effective, engaging, and fun!
Learning to understand and speak a second language is a lot of hard work no matter how you spin it, but there are ways to go about it that accelerate your growth not only in language but also in building relationships with Hindi Urdu speakers. The number one indicator of success in language learning is time spent learning the language. So no matter which approach you use, if you are willing to commit time and effort towards the goal, you will improve!
But not all approaches are the same in their attitude or priorities. Traditional book methods with a strong initial grammar focus will help you learn how to read and write, memorize several key phrases, and know proper sentence structure right away which can be really helpful for more analytical learners. However, this approach is often frustrating for learners who feel that these skills are not helpful if they do not also have the understanding of the vocabulary they read or ability to fill their proper sentence structures with actual words.
The cool thing about the GPA is that within the first 100 hours, learners will interact in fun, game-like ways with over 1,000 Hindi, Urdu, or Punjabi words. And while instruction of common important phrases is included in this initial vocabulary, learners will also have the ability to communicate their own original ideas using Hindi after just 40 hours of class! Sure, these sentences will be simple initially in the same way that a child learning to speak communicates simply at first. But they will be original thoughts expressed in a second language using the proper sentence structure after just 40 hours! And what’s even more powerful about this approach is that learners will be able to understand or have the tools to negotiate understanding of the responses they hear from the phrases and sentences they say in their new language. Because if you’ve ever traveled to a new country and learned a few phrases to use, you know how helpless it feels when you use the local language to communicate a thought but can only stare dumbfounded when a response you do not understand is given, and it sounds just like a wall of noise.
Above all, Hindi Urdu is best learned through the GPA approach because it is a relational, immersive, and conversational approach. These South Asian languages are spoken by millions of people in the world today. They are incredibly practical languages to know. The relational priority of GPA throughout the language and culture learning process gives immediate application to the many hours of investment required in the endeavor to understand and speak Hindi Urdu. It is crucial to remain motivated throughout the process and relational, immersive approaches keep GPs coming back because they aren’t just attending class, they are catching up with a new Hindi-Urdu-speaking-friend in a way that is fun and effective for their language growth.
What is the Growing Participator Approach (GPA)?
The Growing Participator Approach (GPA) is both an attitude and a methodology based around the idea of growing as a participator in another languacultural world through an increasing number of deep relationships. Growing Participators (GPs) grow in two main ways using this approach.
GPs participate and grow in:
Our lifestyle of interaction with host people in everyday life
special-growth participation activities which place our participation and growth “front and center”
The GPA approach does not isolate language from culture as it is impossible to do so. Language and culture are always intertwined. The nuances of Indian culture especially are often expressed and defined through language. By using the immersive, conversational, relational, and integrated approach of the GPA, learners have access to the full richness of a living language. In each of the 6 Phases of GPA, learners are encouraged to be engaging in focused activities at their level during language sessions and applying what they are learning through active engagement in their local Hindi Urdu Punjabi speaking community. Involvement in both these spheres are crucial for effective growth into a new South Asian languacultural world.
What is the GPA Attitude?
The GPA attitude prioritizes relationships over other things such as “language learning,” “the appearance of competence,” personal comfort, strength, pride, and traditional methods of “learning.” There is a guidebook but no textbook in GPA. There is a Nurturer welcoming you into their world at every step of the way and not a teacher simply transmitting information to you in a rote way. There is participation and growth in language, culture, and relationships.
The GPA attitude prioritizes relationships in the languacultural world of Hindi Urdu speakers instead of our languacultural world. There is so much more depth to these languages than just the direct translation of words and ideas from one language into another. Each word in Hindi Urdu carries with it a world of values, beliefs, perspectives, traditions and more! GPA prioritizes learners accessing the fullness of these languages.
The GPA attitude is a conception of language as a skill we improve in using over information we acquire. There are no formal exams throughout the GPA but rather benchmarks of skills in which learners will grow over time. Launch India has resources to help assess whether one has met these benchmarks throughout phases if that service is helpful, but overall equips learners with the tools to hone their skills in understanding, speaking, reading and writing.
The GPA attitude is a conception of language as a communal activity that we grow into as a new person over a skill we improve in using. There is a dying-to-self that happens when learners fully embrace the GPA approach because one must learn not only to understand and speak another language but think like the speakers of other languages. They must become like a child again and grow into a new Hindi Urdu version of themselves. GPA views language learning as the fully life-transforming experience it should be!
The GPA attitude prioritizes listening and understanding over speaking over reading over writing. Speaking, reading, and writing are all addressed thoroughly throughout a well-executed GPA experience. However, the emphasis is always on growing the skills of listening and understanding first. How else can one learn to speak in a native-Hindi, native-Urdu way unless they spend hours listening to how native speakers speak? How can one learn to think in a native-Hindi, native-Urdu way unless they spend hours listening to how native speakers think? How else does a learner gain access to the heart of a language, but by building a genuine relationship through listening to the stories of native speakers?
The GPA attitude prioritizes experience, exposure, “savings” over “mastery.” The learning process is kind of like an iceberg where the things we feel we really "know" well in the sense that we can rattle off those phrases or words easily- those are just the top of our iceberg. Those words and phrases do not accurately represent all the words and phrases that we may be able to understand in context or recognize even out of context. Using this approach and philosophy, learners with GPA find they are able to learn massive amounts of vocabulary in a short amount of time by exposure to tons of speech over and over again until the words that were once barely recognizable naturally rise their way to the top of the iceberg, and GPs find themselves easily able to use them to express their own ideas. Practically, this means that it is very normal to need to ask about the meaning of a word multiple times as you encounter that word in different contexts. Asking to clarify the meaning of a word multiple times does not mean you are a bad langauge learner. In fact, it is quite the opposite! It shows you have the attitude of humility that makes a successful language learner.
The GPA attitude prioritizes humility. There is a high chance that at some point in your process of using GPA to learn Hindi Urdu, you will feel confused, like you’re doing the worst of everyone in the room, like crying, like you’re not progressing, like GPA isn’t working for you, or discouraged. So when you’re feeling down, remind yourself that learning a second language and culture is hard. But stick with it! It is worth it! We are here to help!
What is the Method of GPA and where did it come from?
The Growing Participator Approach was developed by Dr. Greg Thompson (Ph.D. linguistics), along with his wife, Angela, based on applying the latest research on how people actually learn languages well, and a Biblical paradigm of cross-cultural relationship to their own experience learning a variety of different languages in different contexts. Check out the GPA webpage for more details: Growing Participator Approach.
The process is divided into five stages of “specialized growth activities” for growing in Hindi Urdu language and culture called “Phases.” The phases are designed to keep you always in your “growth zone” where you are simultaneously challenged and having fun. It is in this sweet spot that growth happens powerfully!
Start the journey of connecting to your nurturer and begin understanding the tangible "here-and-now" words of people in South Asia by engaging in structured play activities.
Phase 2 : Story Building (150 hrs)
Let your personality emerge within your relationship with locals as you begin communicating your own ideas by building stories through wordless picture books.
Phase 3 : Shared Stories (250 hrs)
Using shared stories as a bridge to understanding, dive deeper into language, host culture, and your budding relationship with your nurturers.
Phase 4 : Deep Life Sharing (500 hrs)
Develop deep friendships with locals and expand your language exposure through listening to their life stories and sharing your own. Begin regular record for feedback activities so your Nurturer can help you fix common errors in your own speech.
Phase 5 : Native to Native (500 hrs)
Widen your understanding through study of native-to-native discourse, expanding your comprehension and ability to use the colloquial language like the locals.
Phase 6 : Self-Sustaining Growth in Community (Lifestyle Growing Participation)
Continue your language and cultural growth through the everyday relational interactions of work, play, and life.
The ultimate goal of the Growing Participator approach is to allow you, the growing participator, to become a full participator with many deep relationships in another languaculture; that is, achieve languacultural fluency. The most direct way to achieve language cultural fluency is by first getting to the point where you will grow naturally through your normal, everyday participation in the host world. This is called “self-sustained growth.” Thus, the direct goal of the Growing Participator methodology is to get you to self-sustained growth.
Do you learn Grammar in the Growing Participator Approach?
It is a common misconception that students do not learn grammar using the GPA approach. Research shows that the number one way to grow in using correct speech is MASSIVE COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT. This means you have heard tons of speech said correctly over and over again by locals that you were able to understand. This is why the skills of listening and understanding are foundational in GPA. From Phase 1, you are hearing phrases in complete sentences with correct sentence structure. As you keep listening and begin speaking more in Phases 2-3, your Nurturer is constantly correcting your speech to increase your exposure to correct sentence structures. In Phases 4-5, participators are highly encouraged to regularly use the Record for Feedback activity where the Nurturer recasts every sentence a GP makes into how a native would have said it. Even if a sentence may be grammatically correct, it might not be the way locals speak.
In addition to these general GPA approaches to grammar throughout the regular program, Launch India has also developed Grammar Workshops which are provided to all students starting from Phase 2B. These workshops cover the 5 overarching topics of 1) Nouns, pronouns, & adjectives, 2) Verbs, 3) Sentence Structure, 4) Colloquialisms, 5) Numbers, Dates, and More. These workshops are designed to be fun activities to give focused exposure to specific grammar constructs and then to allow the Nurturer to support the GP in creating several example sentences using the construct. We encourage GPs to take time each day in their regular language sessions to work through a few of these activities. The workshops can also be done as an intensive.
To understand and be understood is key to communication. While understanding can be reached without proper grammar, confidence increases as we sense we are speaking like the locals do. So let's approach learning grammar in a way that is effective and fun!
The Growing Participator Approach is the best method for learning Hindi Urdu because it is effective and fun. While language learning is never easy, it is always possible. GPA inherently increases learner motivation throughout the process by keeping relationships in the new languacultural world front and center. With activities uniquely designed to keep learners of all stages growing in their understanding, speaking, reading and writing skills, GPA will take you deeper into language, culture and relationships with speakers of South Asian languages than you’ve ever gone before!