Learning Hindi

I’ve always had a fascination with learning new languages, but never fully committed to learning one to a reasonabe degree of fluency. A native English speaker, I can converse in French to a beginner-intermediate level, speak basic German and Spanish and a little Japanese. With Indian roots, I have always had an interest in the Hindi Language. As the Anglo Indian Project has developed over the past year or so, I have eagerly anticipated a trip to India to visit the home of many of my ancestors. With the majority of Indian residents speaking Hindi, I couldn’t resist the temptation to learn the language.

Where to start?

I defaulted to language programmes I had used before. Most successful for me previously have been the pimsleur language programmes. These provide excellent listening and speaking lessons, which at the end of the first lesson (usually lasting about 30 minutes) I find myself speaking and understanding the basics of the language covered. I’ve used pimsleur for refreshing my French, and learning Japanese and Spanish. In addition, I have used Paul Noble’s Spanish programme which I found to be as good as the Pimsleur programme. The Pimsleur programme tends to struggle beyond listening and speaking, whereas Paul Noble’s Spanish programme advances to reading skills.

To assist me with my decision on how best to learn Hindi, I did some prelimnary research using some basic web-based searches. In particular, I was looking for a programme which would not only enable me to speak and understand the language, but I also wanted to be able to read and write Hindi script. No easy task, perhaps.

The web is flooded with language programmes, apps, websites, courses, you name it, it appears to be there. This makes it increasingly challenging to decide on which approach best suits your needs. I read some interesting articles on learning Hindi, and I was directed toward language podcasts from reading Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity – which is an excellent book, however, has nothing to do with India or learning Hindi. Searching for podcasts led me to a useful article in the Guardian which provides a good (general) overview of language podcasts.

I narrowed down my search to three programmes which seemed to provide what I was looking for. The Pimsleur Hindi course, Rocket Languages Hindi programme, and Hindipod101. All three programmes offered a free trial, which I duly took them up on. After a week or two of trialing them all, I concluded that Rocket Languages provided the most appropriate Hindi language programme for me.

The main selling point was the accessibility and convenience the programme provided. The ability to download all the materials and access them anytime, anywhere was useful (and more effective than other programmes I looked at). In addition, the programme offers the opportunity to record your voice and practice (through systemised assessment) the pronounciation of the words. Excellent.

Another key point with Rocket Hindi was the price. For a one-off £80.00* I would have lifetime access to the programme and online content (providing the online content remains for my lifetime – however, the content is downloadable). In contrast, Pimsleur was priced at £85.00* for it’s level 1 programme, but critically did not offer the depth and functionality offered by Rocket Languages. Hindipod101 appeared to be a very good programme, however, at £5.00* per month (recurring payment) for the premium package (which was a good match to the Rocket Hindi programme, and had favourable reviews), it was a more expensive option in the longer term.

After a few more days of thinking, and reading this very well presented review by Donovan Nagel, I purchased the Rocket Hindi programme.

So far, so good. Having completed the first module (consisting of 14 lessons, approx. 30 minutes long, covering audio, language and culture and writing) I am very impressed and able to speak and understand some basic Hindi. I’m confident the programme will assist me in visiting India later in 2016.


Some additional free resources and guides

BBC Hindi guide (archived): http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/hindi/guide/

Learning Hindi: http://www.learning-hindi.com


Any comments or advice welcome.

Cover picture credit: clker

*All pricing correct at time of writing.

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3 thoughts on “Learning Hindi

  1. I’m wondering if a more personal approach would not have been better. I’ve wanted to learn Hindi, and when I have the time and commitment to do so, I will most likely make a contact in India through either this project OR the Australia India Business Council etc and skype someone in India two or three times a week. The Indian end improves their English and I learn Hindi. I think that could be a more effective way to go, especially if (as the Defence Force does) you end the experience by being billeted locally for (say) a couple of months.

    I’m not criticising, just adding another option to subscribers of the Project. Pete

    1. Hi Pete,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree, without contact with a native speaker, the learning experience will not be as authentic as it could (and should) be. Spending time in the country, surrounded by Hindi speakers – immersed in the context – communicating regularly in the language, would be ideal. Using communications technology (such as Skype) to communicate with a native speaker, would also be a great way to learn Hindi. If there’s reciprocal learning English-Hindi, Hindi-English, then all the better.

      I’m taking the approach of self-learning through a language package, and hope to add regular contact with a Hindi speaker(s) as I progress. I’ll report back on my experience / progress.

      Thanks again,

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