Coalition Language Representative

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Surendra Gambhir, Ph.D., was a distinguished member of the South Asian Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania for more than three decades (1973-2008). He holds a Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics from Penn, and his fieldwork has extended across many countries - Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Mauritius, Fiji, India, and the United States. His research has focused on the language preservation and loss of languages in various communities in India's diaspora. Studies in language-contact situations by many other scholars have benefited from his model of analysis in the study of the koineization process in theoretical linguistics. He is the author of eight books and over one hundred research articles published as chapters in books, encyclopedias, and national and international journals. His recent and relevant books include Story of Hindi in India's Diaspora (2017), Business Hindi Online (2015) for the federal government of the United States, and Bhaashaa Chintan (2007), a collection of articles in Hindi on the sociolinguistic aspect of Hindi. Recent book chapters include "The Indian Diaspora: Language Maintenance and Loss," "Linguistic Relationships: Bhojpuri and Standard Hindi – A View from the Western Hemisphere" (2014), "Journey of Hindi in the United States" (2014) in Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States, "Maintenance and Vitality of Hindi in the United States" (2014) in the special issue on Language Vitality, Heritage Language Journal , and "What Does One Need to Get up to Level 4" (2006) in the Journal of Distinguished Language Studies.

In addition to being a visiting professor at many universities, he has been a consultant to many institutions including the National Foreign Language Center, Center for Applied Linguistics, Temple University, the University of Massachusetts, Kean University, and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. His contributions to the field of language pedagogy are many. He was the Chair of the Language Committee (1998-2007) of the American Institute of Indian Studies, under whose auspices he directed thirteen language programs in India. He has authored and co-authored three books for teaching Hindi as a foreign language. He was a member of the STARTALK National Advisory Committee and has directed two STARTALK programs for Hindi and continues to be a consultant to two. He has been a keynote speaker at many international conferences in Prague, Mauritius, India, and the United States. He is the recipient of many honors and awards; the most recent was the President of India award in 2012 for his contributions to the field of Indic research around the world.

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Vijay Gambhir, Ph.D., has taught courses in language, linguistics, Hindi-Urdu pedagogy, and literature in the Department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania from 1973-2010. Currently, she provides consultation to STARTALK Hindi-Urdu student and teacher-training programs. Dr. Gambhir is a leader in the field of pedagogy and has trained many South Asian and other less commonly taught language teachers for proficiency-based instruction and assessment. The Hindi Proficiency Guidelines and the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Hindi have been developed under her leadership. She has served on many local and national committees. She has provided consultation to several professional institutions including the National Foreign Language Center, Defense Language Institute, National Council on the Teaching of Less Commonly Taught Languages, National Capital Language Resource Center, Hindi-Urdu Flagship Program, and Kean University for their Hindi/Urdu pedagogy master's program. Her publications include Teaching and Acquisition of South Asian Languages, an edited volume published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, and many scholarly articles published in recognized national and international journals and books. She is the co-author of a popular video instructional series, New Directions New People, for beginning and Intermediate Hindi learners.

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Vidya Nahar, a native speaker of Hindi, has been teaching conversational and written Hindi and Marathi to adults and children in the northwest suburbs of Chicago since 1998, through her institute, "Balodyan" (www.balodyan.com). She has written more than 100 children's Hindi and Marathi songs/rhymes and Hindi/Marathi plays to teach these languages playfully to learners. These songs and skits have been published in four books, and a CD of her songs has been recorded. Vidya has written A to Z in Hindi volumes 1 & 2, and A to Z in a Hindi picture dictionary, with more than 1,000 images. She has also written a textbook, "Hindi Learner 1," for novice learners of Hindi, which covers topics such as varNamaalaa, maatraaeN, self-introduction, family introduction, friend introduction, weekly routine, daily routine, weather, animals, emotions, India's map, extended family, likes, dislikes, festivals of India, etc. (www.balodyan.com). Vidya has attended several STARTALK Hindi teacher training programs and served as the director for five STARTALK student Hindi programs. She is well versed in STARTALK's learning philosophy and incorporates ACTFL's learning standards for global language acquisition in her classes. She uses technology in her language classes to assess, enhance, and reinforce her students' learning. She has organized the "Vishva Hindi Video BHAASHAN Pratiyogitaa" (World Hindi Video Speech Contest) since 2016. This is the first and only contest of its kind, where anybody, ages 7 to 18, can participate from anywhere in the world by uploading a video of their Hindi speech on the given topic on YouTube to win handsome prizes. Videos of these speeches and various projects of Vidya's Hindi students at Balodyan can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/user/Balodyan/playlists. Vidya also teaches yoga and pilates to five generations of participants in the northwest suburbs of Chicago (www.vyayam.com).

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Ashok Ojha is a New Jersey-based journalist and teacher, where he manages two non-profit organizations, Yuva Hindi Sansthan and Hindi Sangam Foundation, both dedicated to promotion of Hindi language in the U.S. and beyond. Well-versed in national standards and best practices in curriculum instruction appropriate for U.S. Schools, Ashok is a K-12 certified teacher for social studies.

He worked as a full-time Hindi journalist, script writer, and documentary producer in India prior to his immigration to the United States in 1996, where he was enrolled in the International Affairs program at New York University. He continued to report on current affairs for publications and journals in the U.S. and India. In January 2017, he produced and din)rected a series of short videos on Citizenship and Social Justice’ for a New York University project.

As the coordinator of the International Hindi Conference, U.S., he collaborated with scholars from a number of leading universities, including New York University (NYU), Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), to organize three International Hindi Conferences in the U.S. at NYU (2014), Rutgers (2015), the Consulate General of India, New York (2016). He is collaborating with the Consulate General of India, New York for holding the Fifth International Hindi Conference, September 21-23, 2018 (http://www.hindiconferenceamericas.com). The conference will be hosted by the Consulate General of India, New York.

Since 2010, Ashok has been awarded U.S. government funding for directing STARTALK Hindi Programs. Trained as a Hindi teacher at the 2009 UPenn STARTALK Teacher Program, he directed the STARTALK program for Kean University students (2010, 2011) followed by YHS STARTALK Hindi programs at Bensalem (2012), Hatfield (2013), and Harleysville, PA (2014-17). He has been awarded three STARTALK grants to direct the Sangam-Franklin STARTALK Hindi Program since 2016. This program is held at Franklin High School in collaboration with Franklin Township School District, New Jersey. In 2018, Ashok directed two summer programs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey-YHS STARTALK Hindi Program, June 18-July 6, at Pennbrook Middle School, North Wales, PA; and Sangam-Franklin STARTALK Hindi Program, July 16-August 2, at Franklin High School.

Ashok taught English as a foreign language in Yongan, Fujian, China in 2012. He has earned two bachelor degrees—one from NYU (2001), U.S., and from Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, India (1971).

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Bhavya Singh was born in India. In the last 12 years, Ms. Singh has been involved in the teaching of Hindi language and Indian culture in the United States through various community-based private and public non-profit organizations. She is a school PTA executive board member and is involved in leading and directing numerous community-based projects in Ventura County, California.

She is the Technology teacher on special assignment for the STARTALK Hindi-Urdu teacher’s program in the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University (NYU). She is involved in designing technology-integrated Hindi language modules with project-based 21st century world readiness standards for the online Virtual Hindi Website. She is a Hindi Lead Instructor at Joint STEP- Sunnyvale School District/ Stanford Summer Explorations at Sunnyvale School District, California and Founder of the district’s Hindi E-newspaper, “Bhashabhaskar.”

Bhavya is ACTFL OPI trained in Hindi. She is a certified voice thread educator, and her most recent project was establishing a voice thread online student platform for her school district of hybrid teaching and learning of Hindi. She is working on developing a game-based Hindi language curriculum using the latest augmented and virtual reality platforms along with Google tools for education. In July 2016, she was a Hindi instructor in the STARTALK IHA Hindi student program, Ohio, where she introduced the Digital Storytelling concept using Story Board.

Bhavya taught high school Hindi as a world language for credits in Los Angeles through Madhu Bhasha Kendra, Palo Alto. She has successfully completed various K-16 STARTALK professional teachers’ training workshops in the Hindi language at UCLA, NYU, CARLA.

Bhavya holds a B.A. in English Literature, Economics, & Political Science from the University of Allahabad, India, along with a LL.B/ J.D., with specialization in Labor Law, Equity, and Trust from the University of Lucknow, India. She is currently enrolled in a Graduate Certificate Program in Language (Hindi) teaching with Technology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Bhavya graduated in the SWLP Technology strand from Stanford University, California. She also holds PMI Project Management PDUs from the University of California, Berkeley.



Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2019