When most students decide to learn a new language, they turn to traditional classes for practice, either in local schools for languages or online. However, not every student gets the same value from each class and so might decide to go it alone.
Of course, there are pros and cons to any method of learning, including self-study. Some of the pros of not taking traditional classes include the fact that you will definitely spend less money and you can study step by step at your own pace.
One of the major cons is that you might not always find the answers to your specific questions in books or on the internet. Plus, students need to be extremely self-disciplined and make sure they sit down and take the time to learn every single day.
If you've weighed these pros and cons and decided to go for it... great! Acquiring a whole language's worth of grammar and vocabulary by yourself certainly isn't going to be easy, but our helpful guide will try to equip aspiring Hindi speakers with the best tools to get started!
But how do you know exactly where to get started? Well, when you attend Hindi language courses, you will notice that teachers always follow a pretty set curriculum or course of study. This is usually the same for textbooks and apps, so they can help you to stay on track.
Hindi is definitely a complex language, but to get to a point where you can read, write and speak with a varied knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, you simply need to start at the beginning and learn step by step.
Of course, the first step is to learn the alphabet of Devanagari, the script that Hindi (and many other languages) is written in. It's made up of 14 vowels and 33 consonants and is written left to right. Once you have Devanagari down, you can start deciphering each word in a text.
Other than the writing script, you can start with lessons on basic words and phrases. Greetings like 'Hello' (नमस्ते / namaste) and introduction phrases like 'My name is...' (मेरा नाम ... है / merā nām ... hai) are a helpful place to start.
As your Devanagri reading and writing skills improve over time, you can start with lessons looking at basic sentence structure and grammar in Hindi, like the order of nouns and verbs, plus concepts such as masculine and feminine words.
If you're not sure where to go after that, a textbook to read from is a helpful tool, because it can give you a starting point. After that, you can research and spend more time on topics and areas of language you find more difficult or interesting.
An important step before any solo languages student can actually start their first lesson is thinking about your goals and the type of language you should be studying. Languages are immense, with version after version depending on things like register, region, accent and more.
The English you read on Facebook is not the same version as the English you see in a newspaper. Australian English differs in vocabulary and accent from the Canadian English version. The same goes for the Indian language of Hindi.
Before you organise your first class, think about what your priorities are. If you need Hindi for work, you should be learning more formal vocabulary used in workplaces. Or if you're in travelling around Indian regions, each lesson can focus on spoken Hindi, like the pronunciation of different vowels and consonants.
By doing this before your first lesson, you can have a clear and helpful idea of your goals in your head and use it to decide whether it's worth it to spend the time learning certain verbs, phrases, grammar structures and more.
The most important thing to remember is that learning anything from the Hindi alphabet to phrases for travel is a slow process that takes time and effort day by day. But just imagine how proud you'll be in a month, a year and beyond!
Let's look at three good tips for learning Hindi by yourself, whether through an app, self-planned classes or a trip to India.
1. Use Good Resources To Help Your Hindi Skills Improve
It's probably pretty obvious that no student can get very far with languages without some helpful resources, especially if that student has decided not to learn through more traditional courses.
As we mentioned before, one of the pros of this method is that you don't have to spend as much money, but you'll still need certain materials to be able to learn the language, some free, some paid, some physical and some online.
If you really want to avoid spending money, you can start with a free app like DuoLingo, Memrise or Drops (all of which have premium subscriptions for extra in-app features). These apps usually teach language word by word in short classes, creating a game-like experience.
Often made for beginners, these apps like Drops focus on teaching words, verbs and phrases such as each word you'll need to learn to be able to tell the time. You can also learn the individual characters of the alphabet in each class.
If you're more serious about your language learning and find that a free app isn't quite good enough for your needs, then we recommend a beginner textbook, as well as a Devanagari script workbook for practising the Hindi alphabet.
Other options include online courses like Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur or Hindi101Pod. Pros of these courses are the expertly designed curriculums that are made to be completed online, one lesson per day. Also, they usually feature plenty of good audio and video materials for listening practice.
2. Speak To Other People in Hindi As Much As You Can
One of the major cons of studying solo is that you don't really get many opportunities to work on one of the best parts about learning languages: spoken skills! Studying a language is a little pointless if you never actually get to speak it.
We strongly recommend finding people to practice with, either native speakers or fellow students who are at least one level above yours. Spoken practice has many pros and can help in so many ways that written study simply can't.
Pronunciation of certain consonants and vowels will only start to stick once you're using them consistently, and the same goes for the conjugation of certain verbs. Plus, you might realise there are holes in your knowledge and ask for help or plan a lesson to fill those gaps.
Finding people to speak to in Hindi doesn't have to be impossible, even if you don't have a class of mates to turn to. One great option is the free app Tandem, which connects people around the world.
Using Tandem, you can connect with a Hindi speaker who wants help learning English. Once you've found a good partner, you can start engaging in interesting and helpful conversations by sending voice notes and making calls. You can even practice writing the script with the messaging feature.
You can ask your partner about any doubts you have, from the pronunciation of certain spoken words and phrases to difficulties with the alphabet or particular verbs. Plus, you'll suddenly begin to see just how far your language skills have come.
3. Take An Indian Holiday For Real-Life Lessons
There's only one thing that can help to learn the Indian language better than great lessons with an expert Hindi tutor, and that's full immersion. Once students have a basic understanding of Hindi, including being able to more or less read Devanagari, getting on a plane to India could be the best next step.
Travelling through India without being able to speak Hindi certainly has its pros and cons, but just think about how much more fun and helpful it would be to learn in this way as opposed t online Rosetta Stone or Drops lessons.
One of the best things about learning through travel is that every word and phrase has a real-world function, making them easier to understand- they're essential! Plus, you get to see India, which is never a bad thing, right?
Of course, it's important to learn at least some basic knowledge before you get on a plane to India, as it will make the immersion a little less shocking, enabling you to make the most out of your travels. You never know, you might enjoy your time in India so much that you never want to leave!
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