Learning Hindi: how difficult it is?

About Hindi language.

Hindi is considered to be one of the most widely spoken languages in the world with a total of 487 million speakers (366 million native). These numbers makes it the third most spoken language in the world after English and Mandarin.

Together with English, Hindi is one of the two official languages of India. It is spoken mostly in Central and North India. This language is also quite well understood in other countries such as Nepal, Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname. The official script used for Hindi is called Devanagari, which has derived from Brahmi. It is also quite similar to other Indian scripts, such as Bengali and Gujarati. Even though ~41% of India population speaks Hindi it is important to point out that there are various other languages. For instance Bengali is spoken by ~8%, Telugu and Marathi 7% of population. It is not big surprise that there are so many languages and dialects spoken in India, because the population of this country is the second largest in the world (1.2 billion people). It is calculated that there are on average 400 different languages and dialects in India, so both English and Hindi are very important for communication between people in India.

How Difficult it is to Learn?

keep-calm-learn-hindi-languageIn case you are wondering how difficult it might be to learn this language the answer to this question highly depends on what other languages you already know. For example for people who are already familiar with languages like Urdu, Nepalese, Bengali and Sanskrit it would be much easier to learn Hindi, since they have some similarities in either spoken or written form. The similarity between Urdu and Hindi is so big that some linguistics even considers them as the same language. In general Hindi is not easy to learn for English speakers. According to Foreign Service Institute (FSI) research, it would take on average 44 weeks to learn this language if you are an English speaker. By “learn” it is meant that you would be able to achieve S3 (speaking) and R3 (reading) levels. This comparison also indicates that even though it is not an easy language to learn, it is easier than languages like Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and etc.

Easy and Difficult Aspects of Hindi.

You might get a bit surprised to know that you already know some words in Hindi. This is because there are some words of Hindi origin that are used in English language. A few examples could be words like yoga, karma, guru, avatar and etc. On the contrary Hindi also uses some words from English that you might find familiar. A few examples are bus, train, hospital, car and etc. So even if you never spend time learning Hindi you would already be familiar with some vocabulary. Despite these similarities it is important to know that pronunciation of these words is a bit different so it is important to learn how to pronounce them correctly.

One of the easiest parts about this language is to learn how to read. All you need to do is learn the alphabet and how each sound is pronounced and with just a little practice you will be able to read easily. It is easy to learn how to read because each word is written the way it is pronounced. So just by learning the alphabet you will be able to practice reading. The next good thing about this language is that it doesn’t have any articles like “a” or “the”, which is always an extra challenge for most language learners.

Some of the things that you might find confusing in the beginning is the fact that sentence structure is different from English. The main difference is that verb in Hindi goes to the end of a sentence. So for example if you would want to say “I like cats“, you would say “I cats like” in Hindi. So you might need some time to get used to this structure in the beginning.

The other challenge of Hindi language for English speakers is to learn genders. There are two genders in Hindi – masculine and feminine. Unlike in English, Hindi nouns have gender so it’s a bit more complicated to learn. Due to the fact that genders might be different with some words than compared to your native language, you might need to learn genders with each new word you are learning in order to avoid mistakes. When trying to identify a gender of a word it is always a good idea to look at the end of the words. When a word ends with a vowel “a” it is a good indication that it is a masculine and when it ends with “i” – feminine. There are however many cases when words don’t end with neither of these vowels, so you would need to learn them separately.

When it comes to adjectives there are two types of them. The first type of adjectives is invariable, meaning they do not change the ending. The second type changes ending depending on the nouns they come with.