Learning the nitty-gritty of a new language is no child's play. It involves a number of different aspects - grammar, syntax, vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking as well as listening, not to mention that cultural influences that affect the applications of languages across the world.
In the beginning, language learning such as Hindi can appear to be an insurmountable task. However, there are ways to keep the momentum up and to stay on track, whether you decide to use an intensive learning method or take it at a slower pace.
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.
Loanwords in Hindi
Some languages of the world share similarities amongst themselves and may not be as difficult to crossover. These languages usually share a common origin, giving rise to similar words, culture and writing characters. The benefits of being well-versed in multiple languages make you multilingual, which is in itself an exclusive club!
Check out these useful tools for learning Hindi effectively.
Hindi and Urdu Synonimity
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.
Hindi Borrows from Persian and Arabic
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, including the Delhi Sultans, followed by the Mughal empire.
Thanks to these borrowings, 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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All It Takes Are a Few Baby Steps
No matter which source of learning Hindi you choose - a Hindi class at a language training center, a private Hindi tutor, online video tutorials/online Hindi courses or even a self-taught Hindi course, you will most likely start with the Hindi alphabet, basic Hindi words, and phrases, following which you will be guided through the vast mosaic of Hindi grammar. The latter would include themes like adjectives, Hindi vocabulary and how to conjugate verbs in the present tense.
An oft-quoted difficulty by learners of the Hindi language has been the rules surrounding the application of gender to Hindi parts of speech. As you begin your Hindi lessons, you will gradually realize that this aspect, like most things in life, is also a matter of applying common sense.
Motivate yourself to converse regularly with experts in the Hindi language or those who speak it as their mother tongue. This will help you memorize grammar rules or you may even pick new words and phrases in the process. You'll figure out whether the road is feminine, the tree masculine and such other gender dilemmas usually facing students of the Hindi language.
Set Your Priorities
A very critical question to ask yourself before you embark on the journey of Hindi learning is this: What is my reason for learning the language? Is it for work purposes, or to better understand the Indian culture? Perhaps, it is simply your thirst for knowledge that has led you down this path. Whatever it may be, try to create a structured program of study for yourself using the learning tools at your disposal.
Make Use of Available Resources
You may choose to sign up for online language courses on platforms such as Udemy, search for resources that are easily accessible and culturally relevant.
Games & Apps
These days, there are apps for almost everything you need in life. So, why should languages be left out of their purview? There are some really effective and streamlined Hindi learning apps out there to help you improve your fluency in Hindi. Check out apps such as R Bhasha Hindi, Hello Talk, Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, etc.
Cultural Immersion: News, Radio, Books
Hindi newspapers or Hindi books (novels or children's books) are an excellent method to develop a cultural understanding of the language you are learning.
Newspapers are especially useful for the purpose of reading Hindi and comprehension. The content is usually quite basic as the newspapers aim to reach maximum readers across the country. In case you are planning to buy books written in the Devanagari script, it is advisable to start off with literature that specifically intended for a younger audience. You can gradually work your way up to more complex novellas and stories. You will be spoiled for choices as Hindi has a rich body of literature.
In order to improve your Hindi listening skills, the television is perhaps the best and easiest option owing to its variety of content on offer. From soap operas to news channels, from reality music shows to sports commentary, you can categorize your everyday lessons as per the themes you want to concentrate on! Even the radio, with its plethora of Hindi stations, can be a good option for you to pick up interesting words and phrases in the most preferred official language or lingua franca of India.
Here is a beginner's guide on finding yourself the perfect Hindi class.
Cultural Immersion: Bollywood
The Bollywood movie industry has penetrated every corner of the globe, thanks to its talented ambassadors and excellent works of cinematic art. The language medium for the hundreds of Bollywood movies churned out every year is? You guessed it right. It is Hindi! Nowadays, one has the added advantage of subtitles, which provides instant translations of words and phrases that are alien to your ears.
Of course, there are other bits of languages sprinkled in, every now and again, such as English, French, and other popular world languages of the world. However, the focus remains on Hindi. Thus, we say, immerse yourself into this cultural extravaganza and pick up the nuances of Hindi language like no other medium of instruction can! Bollywood with its vast reach is making a serious bid for Hindi as the national language of the country.
Work Up Your Positivity
When you are on your own, the easiest thing to do is give up. We often become desperate and let negative emotions creep in when we are unable to come out on top of a lesson the way we had hoped to do. But, remember, there is always a way out!
Students who are guided by Hindi language experts, whether at a beginner or an intermediate level, will always have an advantage when it comes to the speed of learning. You being a self-taught student, however, will reap the richest satisfaction of having done it on your own. If a particular lesson gives you a harder time than the others, simply pause, give it a break.
When you get back to it, try to break the language down into smaller, more digestible chunks. For instance, go back to the start and learn how to conjugate your basic verbs, revise nouns and their gender, and build up your learning from here.
Check out this useful article on making Hindi learning simple.
As most people will only need a second language to speak to others in conversation, don't get weighed down by the details like what a pronoun is, mastering all the tenses, or how to identify an idiom, for instance. A few basic sayings like 'How are you?', 'Do you speak my language?', and 'Where are you from?' are good places to start. Also, try to remember Hindi words for the days of the week and Hindi numbers so you can ask about the time or prices at the shopping plaza.
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Remember not to beat yourself up with the pronunciation of Hindi words. Simply aim to pronounce your Hindi words smoothly, so that your listeners can comprehend what you are trying to say. Use flashcards and notes for better retention. Achieving a fluent Hindi accent will come with time. Fluency will come with practice. Work on the areas that you can control, instead of stressing about the ones that can take care of themselves!