How to Learn Hindi

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The letter K: the first consonant in the Hindi alphabet
The letter K: the first consonant in the Hindi alphabet

Learning a new language is extremely difficult. It will take lots of time and memorization and most importantly, it will take loads and loads of practice, preferably in an immersion environment. That being said, it can be done, and done well, by following a few simple steps as basic guidelines. Let's take a look.

Things You'll Need

  • Hindi-English dictionary
  • English-Hindi dictionary
  • Good Hindi grammar guide

Learn the alphabet. Many people skip this part, or try to learn it later, concentrating solely on speaking, but this is a mistake. Knowing the alphabet well and in order will make it far easier to learn the language, as you will suddenly have a world of written material at your disposal. What's more, you'll be able to use a Hindi-English dictionary--an absolutely necessary skill.

Commit to learning a specific number of new words each day--nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs. This number depends on the amount of free time available to you. If you are serious about learning Hindi, however, I'd suggest setting this number at no less than five, preferably ten to twenty. Carry out Steps 3 through 7 simultaneously with this step.

Learn personal pronouns. In Hindi, there are personal pronouns that don't exist in English, based on levels of respect. Along with this, master Hindi's two genders. Select a good Hindi grammar guide to assist you.

Learn syntax, or sentence structure, including sentence structure for interrogatives. Perhaps the greatest difference between Hindi and English syntax is the placement of verbs; Hindi puts them at the end of the sentence while English typically places them in the middle. For example, "I am reading a book" becomes "I a book am reading." Select a good Hindi grammar guide to assist you with this.

Learn verb conjugations for all pronouns in all tenses. Get these down perfectly, to the point where you don't even have to think about it. If you can truly master conjugations, you've learned half the language.

Learn plurals, postpositions and numbers (both ordinal and cardinal). Consult your grammar guide and do the lessons with practice exercises (and answers) to go along with each concept. This will be laborious but it will also be worth it.

Speak and read as much as possible in Hindi. If you have a Hindi-speaking friend, arrange for consistent (at least weekly) meetings during which you read and converse together somewhat informally. Travel to India and practice with rickshaw drivers, vendors, and hotel staff. Read the newspaper in Hindi each morning online. Most of all, have fun as a whole new world is about to unfold before you.

Tips & Warnings

  • Harvest words (see Step 2) from a source that has meaning to you, so that your expanding vocabulary reflects your own interests.
  • Once you've decided how many words you will learn each day, stick to it religiously. There is absolutely no substitute for a great vocabulary.
  • Hiring a personal tutor to assist you, even for just one hour per week, will greatly enhance your abilities; not only will you be able to save questions throughout the week for your tutor, but you'll improve your own pronunciation skills by conversing with your tutor.
  • Practice cannot be emphasized enough. Practice, practice, practice.
  • Don't move from Step 1 to Step 2 until you've really learned to read and pronounce letters and words.

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