I have always felt this inexplicable attraction to distant places and foreign cultures. Things I knew nothing about seemed a lot more interesting than things I’ve been familiar with. That is why last year, out of all the undergraduate studies in the world, I chose to focus all my attention on India and Pakistan. First and foremost it implied I would start to learn at least one language related to these countries. With zero background knowledge on South Asia, I went for Hindi, as it was one of the praised language courses available at my university.
It’s great to have a teacher guiding you through all extremities and challenges of learning an entirely new script and language. Unfortunately, in my case it didn’t work out that well, and for this only I am to blame. I have always been more of a self-taught learner and, rather than to stick to the rigid 2 x 90 minutes of intensive grammar course, I became curios to explore alternative learning approaches. On my small trip to learning Hindi I stumbled over lots of interesting online resources and courses, most of them free and available for anyone all across the globe. I made a big list and hope that it will be useful to any future Hindi speaker.
Introduction & Learning the Devanagari Script
- Linguanaut.com – a list of basic Hindi vocabulary. It’s always good to start a language trip by learning the basics: how to greet someone, how to say your name, how to say goodbye etc.
- University of Pennsylvania Devanagari Video Tutorials - enables you to learn the Devanagari alphabet through video tutorials.
- Hindi Script Tutor
- Learn to read Devanagari with UkIndia.com
- MyLanguages.org - once you figured out the Devanagari script, you can slowly proceed to this website, where you can start working on your basic vocabulary.
- hindilanguage.info - portal with information about the Hindi Language. Good guide for learning the Devanagari Script and excellent articles on Hindi Grammar.
- learning-hindi.com – Hindi lessons from natives, free of charge. Verb tenses are very well explained. This site helped me figure out how to form and differentiate the past tenses.
- ispeakhindi.com – another quite sweet Hindi learning community. Great grammar lessons + audio files (help you get a grip on the pronunciation). The people there are really nice, always open to help you out and answer any of your questions.
- Hindi Speaking Tree
- A Door Into Hindi – this one’s among the sites that I am mostly grateful to. Bahut Shukriya Prof. Afroz Taj! Also check A Door Into Urdu.
- 1000 Hindi words for beginners
- Youtube Hindi University – I have watched a few of the videos from this channel, they seem nice. Though they seem to take you only to a certain level, I’m not sure if they’re useful to learners who are already past A2/B1.
Applying and practicing your Hindi knowledge
- Livemocha.com – there’s a full Hindi course available here, though I don’t recommend it for beginners. The vocabulary lessons are filled with mistakes, everywhere different Hindi dialects get mixed up, which might confuse a fresh newbie a bit. What I do recommend is to do the Speaking and the Writing exercises, these are a great opportunity to practice your communication skills. On LiveMocha you can write Hindi sentences or record a sample of your spoken Hindi. Natives will then correct your mistakes and even share a few learning tips with you. The people there are very friendly.
- Coke Studio India & Coke Studio Pakistan – two amazing projects aiming to encourage young artists of India and Pakistan to revive the music scene. The best way of learning a new language is to study the culture behind it. Notice that most songs are in Hindi/Urdu, but some are also in Punjabi, Balochi, Sindhi and other languages.
- italki.com – once you acquired some basic Hindi vocabulary, register at italki.com and start looking for a suitable language partner. Even though you’re miles away from India, through this portal you can practice your conversation skills by connecting on Skype with a native Hindi speaker.
- TryingToLearnHindi – Blog filled with Hindi music and movie recommendations.
- Hindi on Transparent.com – Blog with poems, stories, songs and many more resources in Hindi. Once in a while they also post interesting vocabulary lists and short grammar lessons.
- Digital Library of India
- Housefull - The Learn Hindi From Bollywood Movies Podcast - Arun Krishnan is the guy behind these incredibly entertaining podcasts, he really puts the fun into learning Hindi. In fact, I came to like his Hindi lessons so much, I even bought his book on Amazon.
- BBC News in Hindi
- NCERT Books – download Hindi and Urdu textbooks that are used in Indian public schools.
- NCERT and CBSE books – over here even more Hindi/Urdu textbooks.
Dictionaries, Translation Tools and Useful Phone Apps
- Google Translate - whole sentence translations are far from accurate. Though, the tool can be quite handy for 1-2 word translations.
- Hindi Shabdkosh
- AnkiDroid Flashcards
In the past year it turned out that there are more Hindi learners in the world than I had expected. In fact, there are so many of us that there are already a few quite interesting lists of online resources for learning Hindi. Here’s what I found:
- “Travel is the best form of education” - this page is like treasure hunting to someone who is studying Hindi. Some great resources, but you’ll have to invest a lot of time into finding them all. Don’t forget to scroll to the right!
- The Hindi Corner
- Hindi Guide on Wikibooks.org
- Hindi Urdu Flagship