Uyghur is a Central Asian Turkic language spoken by 10–11 million Uyghurs inside of China, mainly in Xinjiang and 1-1.5 million outside of China, mainly in Central Asia. Uyghurs primarily live in Xinjiang (also known as East Turkistan/Turkestan, Eastern Turkistan/Turkestan, Uyghuristan, or Chinese Turkistan). Outside of China, significant diasporic Uyghur communities exist in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan in Central Asia, as well as in Turkey. Smaller communities can be found in the United States, Canada, Australia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Europe.

Uyghur belongs to the Turkic language family and its Karluk (Southeastern) branch, which also includes modern Uzbek. Uyghur, like many other Modern Turkic languages, demonstrates agglutination and vowel harmony. Vowel raising and lowering are typical sound system features for Modern Uyghur. It is written in a modified Arabic script.

The Harvard Uyghur language curriculum is designed in a two-year sequence of courses to provide students with the four practical language skills: speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Students at the beginning level are provided with a solid foundation in pronunciation, writing script, grammar, usage of vocabulary, and proficiency in the four skills. The intermediate course aims to enhance students' skills at a higher level. In this course learners will be able to (1) identify main ideas and supporting details from longer stretches discourse; (2) understand longer paragraphs and identify main ideas from a text consisting of complex sentences, for example, those containing subordinated clauses; (3) give simple oral descriptions on a familiar topic within their fields of interest, provide brief explanations for opinions, and develop short arguments; and (4) write longer paragraphs on a familiar topic within their fields of interest.