It is time to bust the myth that one language or particular languages are easier or more difficult to learn than others. Learning is a combination of motivation (from both student and teacher), aptitude, and the ability to engage with the process of learning.
Hindi is one of the most popular languages in India. Not only the northern part of the country but also the rest of the nation, thanks to the ever-widening reach of Bollywood culture, is now managing to catch up with the language. According to the latest language census of India, released in 2011, approximately 44% of people use Hindi as their mother tongue. Moreover, a whopping 120 million also stated using Hindi as a second language.
It is not a coincidence then, India is known as the land of the Hindustanis.
A Bit of History
India achieved independence in 1947. Since then, India has constitutionally recognized 23 official languages and over 1600 spoken languages and dialects across the multilingual diversity of the country.
Sanskrit: Hindi's Maternal Lineage
Hindi, just like most contemporary Indian languages, owes its origin to the Sanskrit language, one of three mother languages of the world. Sanskrit is also considered a holy language as it was the preferred medium of writing for the priestly classes in ancient times in the Subcontinent.
While learning basic Hindi, you are likely to come across many Sanskrit words, such as naam, meaning name. In fact, if you dig deeper, words like “mother”, “father” and “trigonometry”, also originated in Sanskrit, though they are more commonly attributed to Latin.
That's the beauty of languages. It unites us all, in one way or another!
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Devanagari: The Script of God
"Deva” or “deity” and “Nagari” or “city”. The script has religious connotations as well as used by the commoners. It is the perfect amalgamation of the spiritual and physical realms.
For adult beginners, learning to write the Hindi alphabets in Devanagari can be challenging as it is more complex than the Latin alphabet. Devanagari is a syllabary. All the consonants have a vowel attached. There are 13 vowels and 36 consonants, five of which are modified by a dot underneath.
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Hindi is a phonetic language that implies that its pronunciation is exactly as written. This makes learning Hindi quite advantageous, something that English does not possess.
Hindi and Urdu: The BOGO of Languages
For conversational purposes, Hindi and Urdu are the same languages. You learn one, you can seamlessly use both together, owing to the Mughal influence on India's culture. This is not to say that the two cannot be distinguished. Primarily, Urdu's vocabulary is drawn from the Persian and Arabic cognate pool, while Hindi draws its own from Sanskrit. For example, namaste in Hindi (Devanagari: नमस्ते), will become salam in Urdu and written as سلام.
Persian and Arabic Loanwords in Hindi
A large number of Hindi words have originated from the Persian language, as well as Arabic. This is not surprising as the Indian subcontinent witnessed a prolonged period of political administration by rulers belonging to the Islamic faith.
Thanks to this borrowing, Hindi has an amazing array of synonyms. For example, there are four common variations for the expression of love. If you watch Bollywood movies, you’ll hear pyar but also मोहब्बत (mohabbat), प्रेम (prem) and इश्क़ (ishq).
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Hindi Classes For Adults
Learning a language as an adult is markedly different from the experience of a child learning it. Children can pick up a language effortlessly as their brains are like sponges, absorbing new information. Once we reach adulthood, our brains become more mature, a bit more rigid, in a sense. This is not to say that it is quite impossible to learn a new language as an adult. We have, in fact, witnessed a number of cases where adults have gained mastery of a language at an advanced stage in their lives.
We need to open our adult minds to learning in order to extract maximum enjoyment out of a learning process. There is no end goal in learning languages. It is a continuous process that lasts a lifetime.
Immersive Cultural Experience for Hindi Learning
Many would tell you that their best Hindi classes were in the movie theatre, watching a Hindi movie churned out from that cultural behemoth that is Bollywood. The Hindi language has often been easiest to experience and learn through popular culture. This includes an immersive experience in Hindi music, movies, books, Hindi news material.
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While not as intensive and beneficial as growing up and living in a Hindi-speaking region of the country, this form of cultural learning becomes essential for the maintenance and further improvements in language fluency. Grow habituated to the sounds of the language, the common phrases used in everyday conversations and so on.
Challenge yourself to learn at least one new word or phrase every day. You could pick it up from anywhere - a conversation on the street, a Hindi movie, a Hindi novel. Take the help of mnemonic devices or flashcards to memorize the meaning. Become your own Hindi tutor!
Check out these useful tools for learning Hindi effectively.
Practice Makes One Perfect
We often forget this simple, yet critical mantra for success! Consistency holds the key to learning a new language, especially for adults. Unless you keep up with your lessons, through the regular practice of the Hindi spoken language, you will notice that you are unable to retain the lessons in the long-term. Look for a Hindi course that helps you engage more with the content of learning than simply focusing on the technicalities of the Hindi language.
Take advantage of being a citizen of the technology era. Download language-learning apps or flashcard apps and practice Hindi daily!
Teaching Hindi to Kids
The vast scope of learning a language may seem overwhelming at first when it comes to imparting that knowledge to the little ones. Break the process down into interesting chunks of information and you have an avid kid asking insightful questions while picking up the language nuances in no time!
Language has a Sound
As already mentioned, Hindi learning becomes easier because of its phonetic nature. Help kids internalize the sounds of the language. Teach them how to differentiate between the sounds of the consonants. There are consonants/letter sounds that are peculiar to Hindi, just like any other language of the world. Help the child improve his/her listening skills. Associate a word or a picture-word beginning with that letter.
Here is a beginner's guide on finding yourself the perfect Hindi class.
The Power of Books
Never underestimate the teaching prowess of the written word. Encourage children to read books in Hindi. Even bilingual books come in handy for non-Hindi speakers. These days, you can also hire the services of a Hindi typing tutor. This proves useful for students who learn better through writing.
Hindi is unique in the sense it ascribes a gender to all things, living or non-living. Of course, there are rules that need to be memorized in order to remember the gender of each. Here are a few of them:
- Words ending with ई are usually feminine, while those ending in अ or आ are masculine.
- Country names are masculine, while language names are feminine.
- Names of rivers are feminine but names of seas are masculine.
Make Use of Learning Resources
Make use of the plethora of learning materials available on the World Wide Web or on the telly. Of course, your discretion as a parent or teacher is advisable in the delicate matter of screen time for kids. But, learning resources such as mythological stories in Hindi like Bal Ganesh, Hanuman or even stories of Tenali Raman can open a whole new world of learning for the child, not only in the realm of language but also culture, history, and religion.
Learn to Speak Hindi with Private Tutors
Private tuitions in India is a growing phenomenon. Whether you are looking for group classes, one-on-one tuitions, online tutors or even a language training institute offering courses in Hindi, you are spoiled for choices.
Check out this useful article on making Hindi learning simple.
Superprof is an online 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.
In India, Superprof has a gargantuan list of almost 16,000 Hindi language tutors listed on its platform, each offering their own wealth of unique experiences. Some focus on writing skills whereas others help you to advance your spoken Hindi skills to enable you to get by during simple conversations. You can choose short and long-term courses, depending on your learning needs.
While not all are certified teachers, many have experience of teaching students of various levels and can adapt a series of online or face to face lessons for you. Upwards of INR 814/hr, you can benefit from Hindi lessons from those with the knowledge and skills to offer you structured Hindi classes. Superprof has built up its presence across all major Indian cities, as well as the not-so-major ones. Find a Hindi language course near you through Superprof's advanced search filters.