Usha Jain
Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, Department of South & Southeast Asian StudiesDepartment of South & Southeast Asian Studies


Usha Jain

Usha Jain
Peg Skorpinski photo

24 April 2002 |

Usha Jain has taught Hindi, the national language of India, at Berkeley since 1971. Her position was supposed to be temporary but, given her skills in the classroom, it quickly turned into an ongoing assignment.

“It has been gratifying to teach and to share my culture,” Jain said. “The students are so great, the rewards are so instant; what they learn is immediately visible in their eyes.”

Over the decades, Jain has continued to experiment with new classroom tools and materials — writing and developing textbooks and a CD-ROM , which are widely used in the United States and Europe. In the classroom, she uses slides, films and discussion of contemporary issues to provide cultural context to the language.

In Jain’s classroom, students quickly gain confidence in using the language — often to wrestle with topics of interest in India itself.

“By using their intellectual faculties to focus on relevant social issues, they are almost able to ‘forget’ that they are speaking in Hindi,” said Jain.

Students and colleagues have noted both her compassion for her students and her demand for excellence.

“I remember spending hours on my essays for her class to earn that much desired ‘shabash,’ (the Hindi word for excellent),” recalled former student Sujata Mody.

Vasudha Dalmia, chair of the Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, remarked on the the wide influence of Jain’s work ethic:

“Several generations of South Asians and South Asianists have gone through the rigorous training in language, thinking, community work and commitment that she has offered,” said Dalmia. “Her classroom discussions, apart from being intellectually stimulating, have all along reflected her engagement and concern with urgent contemporary issues.”


Home | Search | Archive | About | Contact | More News

Copyright 2002, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail