Acquiring a whole new set of foreign grammar and vocabulary on your own is always going to be a challenge, but there are ways to keep up the momentum up and to stay on track with learning your new second language, whether you decide to use an intensive learning method or take it at a slower pace.
If you opt for language courses or for online language lessons, then you will find that your tutor will follow a specific course or line of study, almost like studying towards a curriculum at school.
You’ll most probably start with the Hindi alphabet, learn basic Hindi words and phrases like greetings, then move onto adjectives and more complex grammatical rules, like Hindi vocabulary and how to conjugate verbs in the present tense. Along with one-to-one tuition, you’ll also be expected to do some level of guided self-study to advance your knowledge before the next lesson.
An example of the types of the things you might be asked to brush up on in your own time is learning which common words or nouns are masculine and which are feminine.
However, if you choose not to go for lessons with a private tutor, whether for financial reasons or for another justification, then you may be wondering where to start on your journey towards learning a new language like Hindi. This Indian language, like many other languages, simply needs to be tackled with common sense.
Be sure to plan your unique programme of study so that you have a path to follow and don’t get lost. Photo credit: rhodesj on Visualhunt
Start by writing down your main priorities for learning the language – is it for work purposes, or to better understand the Indian culture? It may be neither, but it is important to know in your head what you want to gain from the lessons and try to create a structured programme of study for yourself using the learning tools at your disposal.
Alongside signing up for online courses, you may wish to look around yourself for some helpful resources which will help you to progress in Hindi without needing to rely on others or on a specific curriculum. Below we will explore some of the best ways of learning Hindi using the resources that are out there – most of which can be found for free – and offering the best tips we can on how to succeed.
If you can learn a few new words or Hindi phrases every few minutes thanks to apps, dictionaries, websites and more, just think what you could learn in a few weeks or even a year if you put your mind to it!
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, or the many free apps out there like language learning app Duolingo.
Alternatively, if you want to immerse yourself in the Hindi language then see if you can get hold of some newspapers or books for Hindi communities. Newspaper articles are good practice when it comes to reading and interpreting because the content is usually quite basic and easily understood by foreigners. Should you choose to buy yourself some books written in Hindi script, then you may want to start off with books aimed at younger audiences first and then work your way up to more complicated stories or accounts.
Listening is key when trying to study a language.
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), is one of the best ways to learn how to speak Hindi fluently or at least with proficiency.
To listen to the official language being spoken by a native speaker and to tune your listening skills to the correct pronunciation for colloquial or conversational Hindi, 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 which means you can watch a range of programmes broadcast in the official language of India, Akshay Kumar style Bollywood programmes included!
As a solo learner, it can be really easy to become despondent and lose all faith in your ability to pick up the language and its unique expressions.
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 path for their level – whether beginner or intermediate.
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 basic verbs, revise nouns and their gender, and build up your learning from here.
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 English?’, and ‘Where are you from?’ are good places to start, as well as the days of the week and Hindi numbers so you can ask about the time.
Also, don’t feel you have to pronounce every word just right, so long as the people, you are talking to can understand you then that’s what counts. The fluency will come with more and more practice!
Don’t get stressed or weighed down with your studies, if a method isn’t working then try another and don’t give up. Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 on Visual Hunt
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 the basics can be key when you learn a new language.
It may seem incomprehensible that a stay in India with a Hindi dictionary could teach you more than a dozen lessons with a professional linguistics tutor, but visiting a country can teach you so much in the way of language and culture and thus facilitate learning a language like Hindi, which is steeped in history.
As a tourist in India, you can soak up conversations all around you, independently learn to read signs written in Hindi and discover local traditions taking place and their meaning to the country.
Plan a visit to India to tour and see the sites, which will help you to learn the ‘language of India’. Photo credit: tango- on VisualHunt.com
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 out your conversational skills in order to communicate with the locals, then you will pick up the language in no time. You just need to take a leap!
And, who knows, when you have successfully learn Hindi, you could continue your personal language course with visits to other countries. Whether you want to learn Italian, learn German, learn Portuguese… you now know the best way to get free lessons!