The Hindi language is spoken by over 590 million people in the world – why not make it one more?
This Indo-Aryan language is not only an official language of India (next to others such as Tamil, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Nepali and many more!), but also (in a variation called Urdu) of Pakistan as well.
Hindi is spoken in much of northern India, in the following Indian states (loosely, from north to south and west to east):
It’s also used as a kind of lingua franca in several other states, making Hindi a useful language to learn when visiting India!
Here are some Superprof tips and tricks for learning the most commonly spoken language of India.
The best way to learn Hindi is, of course, by taking a Hindi course offered by a native speaker. Group lessons have the advantage of putting you in contact with other students eager to learn this heir to the Classical Sanskrit language. However, private tutoring with someone who speaks the language as his (or her) mother tongue has a few advantages of its own:
But how can you learn Hindi outside of Hindi classes? Here are some learning tools to help you along.
When learning vocabulary in any new language, flashcards are an excellent way to practise and learn new words. You can seed them wherever you know you will be spending a few minutes a day, for example:
If you are planning to spend any time at all in India, you need to be able to understand the spoken word. Trying to learn Hindi pronunciation while learning Hindi is one thing, understanding native speakers talking at full speed is another. Knowledge of grammar and special Hindi phrases is useful, but often not enough when faced with the reality of the actual spoken language.
There are several ways you can train your ear to recognise the verb tenses, nouns, adjectives and special idioms of spoken Hindi.
The main thing is to listen to Hindi being spoken by native speakers. You can learn Hindi online and off by listening to:
But the surest way to learn a language is to hear it used and speak it constantly. If you can’t make it to India to speak Hindustani every day with native Indians, you can try and find a language partner. A language partner allows you to:
There are apps such as Bilingua that pair you with conversation partners about if you don’t have time to meet in person.
The best way to learn Hindi is to immerse yourself in the culture and visit India! Photo credit: Chris JL on Visual Hunt
If you don’t want to reciprocate and don’t mind paying, make sure your home tutor speaks to you only in Hindi.
The methods given above are mostly for understanding Hindi speech. But what about reading and writing? What are good methods to learn Hindi words and phrases?
Before you start, it is important to decide:
Hindi or Urdu?
The differences between Urdu and Hindi, though certainly present, are not as important in the spoken form. The Urdu language uses more words coming from Persian than Hindi, which mostly borrows from Sanskrit. But more importantly, Urdu (the official language of Pakistan) is written in Nastaliq, a Persian script derived from the Arabic alphabet, whereas Hindi is written using the Devanagari script.
Knowing which writing you are learning is important if you want to read Hindi or Urdu. A good way to practice, though, is reading the news in Hindi. You can do it online or buy a physical paper (the Urdu Times is available in London newspaper stands).
Learn Hindi by reading Hindi newspapers. Photo on Visualhunt.com
The advantages of reading the news in Hindi are:
If you prefer a narrative to a small article, why not read books to learn new Hindi words and practise reading Hindi letters? The wonderful thing about books is that there is always something up to your level – whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced.
Trying to read a narrative forces you to attempt to understand words in context instead of running to your Hindi dictionary every few minutes.
Readers who are strapped for time can read short stories, instead.
When you learn Spanish or French, you will find a huge selection of online games to make learning fun. However, when learning Hindi, you are a little bit more restricted in your choice of learning games. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any out there!
Games are a good way to learn a language – either by playing with a Hindi-speaking partner or by playing language games to improve your grammar and vocabulary. Photo credit: Eric.Parker on Visualhunt
A lot of language apps have quizzes to help you achieve proficiency in Hindi phrases and pronunciation.
There are no board games for learning Hindi (as of 2018, the two existing games were out of stock). However, you can make your own with printables and a little bit of imagination. Find out more about fun Hindi games!
There is a little core of Hindi phrases that you absolutely have to know to get anywhere in India:
The Hindi words for greeting is NEMASTE, spoken with both hands clasped together and a little bow. Photo credit: derluckylucas on VisualHunt.com
Whether in Mumbai or Jhodpur, your best chance at being understood in northern India is to learn to speak Hindi! Don’t forget, though: these tips and tricks don’t replace the feedback of a Hindi tutor near you!