Aspiring travelers often ask me, “How can I learn Hindi? Which textbook should I buy? Is there a particular course I should take? How should I prepare for the IELTS exam?”
To help answer these questions, I have compiled a detailed guide to teaching yourself Hindi, using materials that are readily available online along with a few helpful resources from abroad. Below you will learn about the different ways to learn Hindi, along with some tips on how to prepare for the challenging but rewarding IELTS exam.
The Many Ways To Learn
Over the years, I have come across dozens of people who have asked me these questions about learning Hindi. Mostly, these are students who are keen to improve their speaking and listening skills for academic or professional purposes. However, many of these students have also expressed an interest in traveling to India and being able to communicate with the locals.
Since learning a new language is quite challenging, especially when you are not using any formal methodologies, I advise my students to try and find material that is accessible and interesting to them.
You may decide to tackle Hindi using audio files of native speakers talking. There are many platforms, such as YouTube, where you can find these files with the voices labelled and in English. You can use these files to supplement your own studies or as a binder to listen to while you study.
Another widely accessible option is courseware. There are several comprehensive, affordable courses offered by edu-in-a-box, as well as other providers, that you can access online. Some of these courses are completely free, while others cost just a few dollars.
Whatever the source of the material, be sure to practice listening and speaking regularly. Even students who have learned the language already find it difficult to maintain their fluency after years of inactivity.
Tip: Supplement Your Studies With YouTube
Since YouTube is the most popular social media platform in the world, it is probably the best place to look for content in Hindi. If you have a smartphone, you can download the YouTube app and listen to native speakers talking with your own private speaker. In the app, there is a button that allows you to switch to another language. By switching back and forth between Hindi and English, you can learn the differences in pronunciation and learn how to conjugate certain verbs. To get the most out of YouTube, be sure to search for TED Talks by Indian speakers. These are short, interactive spoken word videos, where the speakers talk for a few minutes and then invite you to text or email your questions to them. Some of these TED Talks are in Hindi while some are in English, and you can usually tell which ones are which just by the pronunciation.
If you find these videos to be quite distracting, you can always mute them or close the window when necessary. Even if you do not have a microphone, you can still ask your questions through Skype, which you can set up on your phone with only a few button taps. Since the call is video-recorded and screen-shared, you can ask the speaker to clarify or elaborate on anything you do not understand. You can also use Google Hangouts to ask questions or give feedback on the courses in the material you have studied.
Tip: Get A Good Glossary
When you are learning a new language, it is very helpful to have a good source of native vocabulary. A good glossary will contain words and definitions that you can learn from and that will also help you understand the language better. One of the best tools for learning a new language is Wordnik. With this tool, you can choose the level of vocabulary you are looking for; be it beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
A good dictionary will also contain words and phrases that you can use in your daily life. If you find the language learning and the definitions and examples helpful and want to continue your learning, you can always look up the words and definitions in context or look up examples of the words and phrases you are learning.
Tip: Learn By Doing
Even experienced students frequently find it difficult to learn a brand new language from scratch. Naturally, you will not learn how to put together a complete sentence or how to speak a word for word with native speakers. To truly learn a language you must be able to translate words and sentences into your target language.
The best way to learn a language is by doing. You will not learn how to speak or write in English or Hindi by simply looking at dictionaries and thesauruses. You must find a way to speak the language or at least understand what is being said. To do this, you must find native speakers who are willing to teach you. It is usually best to find a community of taught lingusiticians who are willing to help each other out and who can give you feedback on your skills. Even after many years of studying and teaching others, I find language learning to be a challenging and never-ending process.
Tip: Take Regular Learning Breaks
One of the best ways to learn a language faster is by taking regular learning breaks. After you have studied for a while, it is easy to get mentally tired of the task at hand and lose focus. This is why most language learners self-diagnose and prescription medication is often needed to stay focused and motivated.
To avoid this, take regular breaks. Get up from your desk every hour or two and walk about, even if it is for a few minutes. Stretch your body and work your muscles as much as possible. This will help you keep your concentration and increase your productivity. At the end of each day, you can review what you have learned and set yourself a new task for the next day. This will help you stay motivated and avoid language learning overwhelm.
Doing all of these things should allow you to learn Hindi regardless of whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced student. Above all, have fun! Remember that this is a challenging but rewarding journey that can open up exciting opportunities for you.