These days, learning languages from English to Korean to Hindi or Urdu has never been easier for people, thanks to the wealth of knowledge that we can access on the Internet, often for free.
We can read ancient documents written in Sanskrit or listen to podcasts in modern Hindi.
While all of these tools can't replace classes with a professional teacher, they are certainly good ways to review anything from the pronunciation of consonants and vowels in Hindi to writing the Devanagari alphabet correctly.
They're especially great for people who are just at the start of their language learning journey. Simply download a free app or look on an online dictionary and students can find out about the spelling and pronunciation of any basic word they need.
For people who need to have something physical in front of them, there's a range of textbooks, dictionaries for pupils and more that can be very helpful as well. Even things like magazines and newspapers can help students to learn a new word or phrase.
Of course, some of these tools come with a price tag, especially physical items like a book or alphabet flashcards. Before investing, think about what you need from your resources. If they're simply an aid to work alongside traditional classes, then free online materials should be enough.
Otherwise, if you're trying to learn the Hindi language by yourself from the beginning, you will need to invest in more in-depth materials from a Devanagari script exercise book to a grammar explanation book, plus audio and video materials to practice listening and pronunciation.
Physical Materials: Books, Magazines, Dictionaries and more
Some pupils prefer to have a physical resource in front of them when they study, as they're able to read, write, highlight and concentrate more easily. Let's break these two types of materials into two categories: those made especially for students and real-world resources.
Materials Made For Students
There are a few types of resources that come under this umbrella, from textbooks that start at basic levels and go through to advanced, to tracing books made for learning the Devanagari script.
One option is the 'Teach Yourself Hindi' book, part of an academic series that provides self-study materials for languages from Korean to Urdu. It includes audio and video materials to help your listening and pronunciation skills as well. However, it is quite serious and a little dry.
Another option is 'Hindi: A Complete Course for Beginners' by Living Language, which is great for beginners as it opens with a special focus on writing and the alphabet. It also includes a good section on Indian culture, which is great for everyday conversations and tourists, plus there are several audio CDs.
A second important resource is a Devanagari script book for learning Hindi vowels, consonants and the alphabet. Try to find a colourful version that has associated objects, pronunciation and English translations. The 'Learn Hindi Alphabet Activity Workbook' is a good option (it's technically for children, but it's very effective for adults too!).
All of these tools, along with regular lessons should mean you'll learn Hindi in no time!
These are products that are made for people who speak Hindi at a native level, so they're probably not a great first step for beginner students. Reading an Indian newspaper or magazine is a good way for intermediate and advanced students to apply what they already know.
Looking at real materials is helpful in understanding the differences between language formality in different situations: a Sanskrit Facebook post is not going to be written in the way as an article in a journal or newspaper.
For intermediate to advanced learners, these materials also give you a great opportunity to get in touch with India today, from the political affairs of the country to the cultural landscape. You can read an ancient book that has been translated into a modern Hindi version, or read song lyrics.
Online Learning Tools
For modern learners, it's common to get on the computer when we have questions or doubts about the language we're studying. It can make a lesson more fun and interactive, but it's important to make sure that the sites and tools we're using are correct and trustworthy.
Here are some websites, apps and more that are helpful for practising anything from written to spoken Hindi skills:
Pimsleur is a very popular website that features more than 50 language courses from Urdu to English. Courses focus mainly on listening and understanding spoken language as well as communication skills. In fact, 'no paper, no notes' is one of the Golden Rules of Pimsleur.
Learners complete one 30 minute lesson every day in a specific sequence that's part of a carefully structured program. Learners respond aloud instead of writing notes or completing exercises, so they can learn to speak more quickly.
Key verbs, phrases and grammar structures are taught immediately, so students can start having real conversations. You can subscribe monthly for around $20, with around 60 30-minute lessons available.
Tandem Language Exchange
This website is great for those who want to focus on their spoken language skills and keep costs low. While anyone can join, it's recommended that you have at least some basic knowledge of Hindi before starting.
So what is Tandem exactly? Well, it's an online platform that allows you to search for a partner, that is, someone who wants to learn your native language. For example, if I speak English and want to learn Korean, I need to find someone who speaks Korean and wants to learn English.
Once you've found someone you like, you can start having a conversation, using a range of tools like messaging, voice notes, video calls and correction and translation tools.
There's no fee to use the application and it can be lots of fun meeting someone from India who can talk about verbs and grammar, but also culture and history.
By now most people know and love DuoLingo, the award-winning language learning app that helps pupils learn languages with just a few minutes of practice each day using mini-tutorials. The application is set up like a game, which makes it more fun and addictive than other tools.
It's a great first step for beginners who want to spend some time familiarising themselves with languages word by word. Each lesson focuses on a few pieces of vocabulary and grammar structures that get progressively more difficult. It also uses audio and voice features to assess listening and pronunciation skills.
However, there are a few downsides to the way this app works. You won't get in-depth explanations, as every lesson works mainly through exercises and practice, which might not be enough for a complex language like Hindi.
Plus, Duolingo probably isn't the best way to learn how to write the Devanagri script of Hindi as you will need to practice physically writing each symbol. Try it if you're keen to practice a little bit every day!
Podcasts are more popular than they've ever been, especially for the teaching of languages. You can fit them into your spare time, listening while on your commute or while doing other things like housework.
The course offered by HindiPod101 uses audio and video lessons (but mostly audio) to improve skills related to dialogues and conversations. You can learn common Hindi phrases, greetings used in India and plenty more.
There are plenty of helpful features like a flashcard app, a vocabulary database and lessons on verbs, adjectives and more. You can even download each lesson so that it's available for offline learning too.
HindiPod101 isn't a free service, but the subscription fee of $8 a month for the most basic plan is very reasonable. If you want to go further in your language learning, you can pay up to $50 a month for extras like help from an experienced Hindi tutor.
This is a great course for people at lower levels who are mostly interested in learning Hindi as a means to communicate every day with people, either in their local community or on their travels throughout India.
So, now you can see the many tools that are available for learning Hindi but remember that these are best used as ways to support your study through classes. A course is usually the most effective option, even if they come with a price tag.
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