With over 250 million speakers across the north of India alone, it is a wonder that Hindi lessons are not more widely accessible in schools in the UK and the rest of Europe. Especially, that is, when you consider that statistics show that nearly 425 million people in the world speak this form of Indian language as a first language and around 120 million as a second language.
Some Background Information On India
The second most populous country in the world, India is a powerful Asian country in many respects. Not only is it a multilingual and multi-ethnic society, it is also a nuclear weapons state and regional power, it boasts the second largest standing army in the world and it is home to a variety of protected natural habitats and diverse wildlife.
Ask anyone who has spent time in one of its 29 Arabic states, and they will all tell you that India is a special place, and each for their own reason.
So, whether it is spirituality, food, art, architecture or industry that takes you to this fascinating territory, wouldn’t it be amazing to understand a little more about the culture and languages of India before you cross its borders? Furthermore, wouldn’t you like to know why Hindi is such a good language to speak? Of course some residents you come across will be an English speaker, however, learning a language like Hindi doesn’t have to be difficult and will help with your conversation skills.
Make sure you practice those greetings!
Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India and derives from Sanskrit, written in the Devanagari script. Because of their similarities, learning how to speak Hindi will help you to speak Sanskrit, Urdu, Nepalese, Bengali, and Gujarati.
Hindi derives from Sanskrit, written in the Devanagari script. Photo credit: romana klee on Visual Hunt
It may be stating the obvious, but the easiest way to find Hindi classes in your area is to do a search online and see what language lessons are being offered.
While most results will come up on an Internet search, don’t forget to consult local schools, colleges and universities to see if they offer any evening classes for adults. Alternatively, if looking for a child, there may be some weekend or after school classes available run by either trained teachers or parents of pupils.
Just because Hindi isn’t on the conventional school curriculum, it doesn’t mean that educational establishments can’t and won’t offer lessons in this important language.
If you don’t have any luck finding group classes, then you may like to consider one to one tuition with the likes of a friend of a friend or a professionally trained private tutor. Of course, if you don’t know anyone within your circle who has connections with the Hindi language, then you may be forced to look for a tutor with the help of Internet once again.
Since finding individual tutors for private lessons can be quite hard (for instance, will they be listed on Yell, advertised on a community webpage or up for grabs ‘Things for Sale’ Facebook page?) be sure to look in the right place for your prospective tutor. There is no better place for this than Superprof.com.
Superprof is an online tutoring platform for tutors to advertise their services and to connect with pupils. Here, you will be able to search for a tutor in your chosen subject, filter by area (however this may not be applicable if you are happy to carry out lessons via video call) and also sort in order of price.
Learn Hindi online with one of their expert tutors and understand all you can want to know about Hindi as a beginner, like Hindi vocabulary, Hindi phrases and how to read and write the language.
Hindi lessons can cost just about anything, depending on a number of factors.
Instructors will base their pricing on their knowledge, training, and experience, as well as on the length of the lesson or course, how many pupils are included in the session (this will determine how much one-to-one time can be spent with each learner) and perhaps the starting level of the learner(s) entering the language course.
Teachers may also need to adjust their pricing according to what you want to gain from your lessons. For instance, if you want to learn technical language for business purposes fast, then they may have to prepare a whole set of new resources tailored just for you and the specified timeframe.
Expect to pay around £20, give or take, for an hour’s lesson.
Aside from purchasing dictionaries and finding some language textbooks at your local library or WH Smith, why not consider some interactive online tools dedicated to language learners? Duolingo is a popular language app, however, there are many more free language learning tools to choose from too.
You may find n=books to help you learn Hindi in a library or book shop. Photo credit: The City of Toronto on Visualhunt.com
Rocket Languages is a website that offers free lessons in Hindi, including Hindi common phrases, salutations, and pronunciation tools. As well as the many resources on offer, there’s a forum for Hindi learners so you can speak to others in your position and exchange ideas and tips.
The Hindi version of this ‘Rocket Languages’ series is called ‘Rocket Hindi’.
Glossika Hindi is a product that helps learners progress in Hindi.
By encouraging you to listen to Hindi spoken phrases and reproduce the sentences (and then repeat!), you can learn key grammar lessons and master your pronunciation.
The HindiPod101 course is part of the Innovative Language series which teaches students using a podcast-style format with videos to stream.
All lessons can be downloaded to your device for use offline and include a range of features such as a database for vocabulary, a flashcards app, grammar lessons and more.
There’s a multitude of audio and video lessons available at various levels.
Hindi is unlike English in many ways, but that doesn’t mean to say that it is difficult to learn.
Hindi is written from left to right, which is something that English speakers are familiar with! It’s also fairly easy to read Hindi as words are generally written as they are pronounced because each character of the alphabet has a different sound. This is quite refreshing for speakers of European languages who often have to learn words one at a time as opposed to chunks of sounds and memorise exceptions to the many grammatical rules!
The other good thing about Hindi is that it doesn’t have articles (i.e. words for ‘the’ or ‘a’), yet all nouns have genders to remember (a bit like in French). It may seem like a minefield at first, but you will see that the genders do start to come naturally.
Acquiring a new language on your own is always going to be a challenge, so if after reading the above you still want to go it alone, then you may want a few tips to help you along.
Firstly, you simply cannot learn this language without using some resources.
If you don’t want to spend money on books and student guides, then you can opt for free language resources like the lessons found on the BBC website, for example. The dedicated Languages page for Hindi features facts about Hindi, including where it is spoken and how to use the language respectfully, along with the Hindi alphabet, a list of key phrases and other useful guides to help with your language learning journey.
Alternatively, if you want to immerse yourself in the Hindi language then see if you can get hold of some newspapers for Hindi communities. Newspaper articles are good practice because the content is usually quite basic and easily understood by foreigners.
As well as written resources, you should never forget to find tools that help you listen to spoken Hindi.
To hear natives talking in Hindi (remember, however, that the different regions have different dialects so be sure to stick to one form of Hindi wherever possible), try tuning into an Indian radio station or finding a TV channel dedicated to Hindi speakers. Most people with Sky TV will have access to such programmes broadcast in India.
As a solo learner, it can be really easy to become despondent and lose all faith in your ability to pick up the language. If you get off to a slow start, then don’t get down about it. It is probably just down to the fact that you are still learning how to learn Hindi, whereas others who are being led by a language instructor will have the advantage of being led down the easiest and most direct path to language acquisition.
If you struggle to pick up key phrases, then take a step back and try to break the language down into smaller, more digestible chunks. For instance, go back to the start and learn how to conjugate your verbs, revise nouns and their gender, and build up your learning from here.
Just think to yourself, what kinds of things did you learn first as a child picking up your mother-togue, or what were your first lessons in French / Spanish about? While sentence structure is different in Hindi to that of English and other European languages, remembering to focus on the basics can be key.
It may seem incomprehensible that a stay in India could teach you more than a dozen lessons with a professional, but visiting a country and practicing immersion can teach you so much in the way of language and culture and thus facilitate your language acquisition.
Imagine being stood in a village in northern India with all of the conversations around you, signs written in Hindi, local traditions taking place… there’s nothing quite like it and you can’t replicate this.
To learn more about Indian culture, visit the country yourself and witness their traditions. Photo credit: Arian Zwegers on Visual Hunt / CC BY
The younger you are, the easier it is said to be to pick up a foreign language yet if you leave yourself completely open to learning and are willing to show yourself up by trying to communicate with the locals, then you will pick up the language in no time.
You just need to be brave in taking that huge step of settling in an unknown country first!