Hindi language immersion program expands

Hindi USA, a nonprofit language educational program designed to engender a love of Hindi and to establish the language as an elective in American schools, will soon begin classes at its Wilton branch, and coordinators Balraj and Tunu Suneja expect another successful season.

The Wilton program has been around for two years, and will continue to operate at Wilton High School. Mr. Suneja estimates there will be well over 100 students participating this year, with more than a third coming from Wilton. Last year, there were about 90 participants.

Of the volunteer Hindi-speaking instructors, eight of an expected 10 will be Wiltonians, Mr. Suneja said.

He and his wife are Wilton residents, and Mr. Suneja said they decided to establish the branch after teaching the language to their children at home, a nine-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, proved to be ineffective.

"We wanted our children to have a balanced viewpoint," Mr. Suneja said. "There was not much structure and discipline in weekend training.

"Second languages are most effectively taught to young children, optimally around five years old, Mr. Suneja said.

Ms. Suneja said the program has been very effective in the past and that children of all ages have been able to adopt the language, at least the basics to the point of speaking at a conversation level.

Oral exams are part of the course that are meant to illustrate to students the proper way of replying to questions and basic conversational language.

Ms. Suneja said the Hindi USA method manages to make the experience fun by incorporating games and theatrical elements. Her children both now speak Hindi "very fluently," she said.

"I'm very excited. I have seen unbelievable results in my children," she said.

Another Hindi USA facility is expected to open in Stamford this year. For more information, visit hindiusa.org.