Hindi is one of the world’s “Big Five” languages alongside English, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic. More than half a billion people speak it, and about half of those are native speakers, mostly in northern India.
Besides Tamil, Hindi is another mother tongue language for our Indian community in Singapore. It is equally significant and is taught in primary and secondary school as a second language. Therefore it is important for your child to be able to speak, read and write in Hindi.
In Singapore, English is the common language that is widely used in school or at work. The lack of practice to converse in Hindi is becoming increasingly common among the Indian population. Unlike other subjects like Mathematics and Science where it involves concepts, understanding and formulae, language requires constant practice for one to excel and master in it. In order to attain fluency and proficiency in Hindi language, the best and effective way is to engage a private Hindi language tutor to provide proper guidance in learning the Hindi language.
Why Hindi is difficult to master
As Hindi lessons is not offered in all the schools, Indian students have to enrol to allocated schools that run Hindi classes on Saturdays. Given the limited time allocated for each weekly Hindi lesson and depending on the learning pace of every student, some students might face difficulty in understanding the topics being taught in school and they might result in struggling with their assignments.
If help is not seek immediately, the questions and doubts become accumulative and will lead to big issues in the future. An experienced Hindi language home tutor is able to overcome this problem by providing advice and guidance for the students. The Hindi language tutor will ensure that doubts are cleared and the students will not have problem in catching up with the class. Hindi home tuition also allows the students to have more chances to practice speaking and gain fluency in the language.
Hindi Pronunciation — Much Easier than English
Hindi is a phonetic language. It sounds like it is a written, which is a big plus in learning any language. The downside for learners is that there are sounds in Hindi that English speakers won’t recognize. They are made by adding an h to sounds we do recognize. So, there is a da sound and a dha, a ka sound and a kha, etc.
In addition to it being difficult to hear these nuanced differences — or to say them properly – Devanagari is romanized with seemingly random variations. Dal, a famous dish made of lentils, is seen in English spelled as dal, daal or dahl. In Hindi, it’s ???, which is made up of “da”, “aa” and “la”, or ? ? ?. Use Devanagari and you’ll be certain you have exactly the right word and spelling.
How to Learn Hindi: The Beginning
Lesson 1: Context is everything in language learning. One of the things with language learning at the beginning is that it’s simple. That’s, of course, where you need to begin if you want to speak. The meaty stuff comes later. My first exposure to Hindi was very advanced: Bollywood movies. The downside was that I could understand hardly any of it, but the upside was that it was meaningful. I wanted to understand these movies to follow the storylines. And those stories gave context to the language, so I could follow what was happening without understanding every word.
Lesson 2: Google Translate is your friend. Google Translate works pretty well but still makes some mistakes that you just have to look past. I knew I could rely on it as a tool, but that I couldn’t assume it’s always 100% correct. A great benefit is that you can also listen to words to learn pronunciation.
Lesson 3: Keep note of all the words you’ve learned or want to learn. From day one of learning Hindi, I took time to keep a digital record of the words I wanted to learn. I did this in a Google spreadsheet.
Lesson 4: Drop the “the”. There is no word for “the” or “a” in Hindi. In other words, there are no definite or indefinite articles. It is common, however, to use ek, which means “one” in front of a noun. This makes ek kitaab akin to “the book” or “a book”.
Lesson 5: Make a special effort to learn the “glue words” first. I started by learning “the little words”. These “glue words” occur so frequently, it’s best to learn them straight off the bat. Three important glue words in Hindi are aur (and), lekin (but) and ya (or). The sooner you conquer them, the better.
Lesson 6: Get ready for formalities. Hindi is a formal language and there are three levels of formality. “You” is aap, tum, and tu, from most formal to least. Tu is another Sanskrit cognate that speakers of romance languages will recognize!
Lesson 7: Get ready to show respect. The post-fix ji is a formality token added to the end of names and responses – like, yes and no. So, in a formal situation, haan (yes) and nahin (no) become haan-ji and nahin-ji, respectively.
Lesson 8: Put verbs last. Hindi is an SOV language (subject-object-verb) while English is an SVO language. This means basic word order will be different from English – get used to putting your verbs last.
Lesson 9: Gender matters. When it comes to learning nouns in Hindi, you’ll have to remember one of two forms. Hindi has male and female nouns.
Lesson 10: Adjectives. Adjectives come before the noun, like in English. Some change according to the gender of the noun they’re attached to, as well as for singular and plural. Others stay the same.
Lesson 11: Infinitive verbs. One of the first patterns you learn is that infinitive verbs end in ‘na’ – as in karna meaning “to do”.