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Namaste! Easy Ways to learn conversational Hindi


Guest post by Taruna Arora

Living in the US, I began teaching my own children Hindi and as with most things I quickly realized that kids don’t want to learn from their moms! Once I gathered a few neighborhood kids and taught them altogether, they were more receptive to learning Hindi. Slowly, my work expanded to teaching in schools as well.

Read, Write, Speak

Learning every aspect of language is important - reading, writing, conversation, vocabulary, and grammar. But in today’s busy world, students want to accomplish a lot, learn new things while still managing their school and home schedule. This makes it harder to master every aspect of the language.

Hindi with its sentence formation, structure and masculine and feminine verbs is very different from English. Not all my students are immersed in the language - they come from mixed families, want to impress a significant other, or are inspired by Bollywood to learn Hindi. For them being able to understand and speak the language takes precedence over writing.

Keeping this in mind, I wrote my book  ‘Understand and Speak Hindi: Well Structured Lessons to Learn Verbs and Sentence Structures for Everyday Conversations’ with transliteration into English. This really helps my students feel successful when they are starting out to learn an unfamiliar language. I noticed that this also motivates them to keep learning and conversing in Hindi!   

Tips for Conversational Hindi

Since many children don’t get much exposure to the language, here are some useful tips to incorporate into your day (or night!) for learning conversational Hindi.

  • Start as early as possible - Young brains adapt to the different languages very soon, and they can differentiate the sounds, contexts, tones really well. Their repetition skills are so good, that they just learn so much from listening and copying.
  • Exposure to the language through every possible and appropriate way: TV, Youtube videos, music, story books - here is an excellent collection.
  • Visit India - this helps your child get the sensory experience of being immersed in the language!
  • Play with words - There are a lot of apps that are fun and kids learn their letters, colors, fruits, animals. However, that’s not enough. Teach them verbs where they can use those vocabulary words.
  • Say complete sentences - This will help them with sentence structure. Once they learn sentence structures, they figure out the patterns and they can substitute different verbs or nouns in the same patterns.
  • Get creative - Use alphabet blocks, flashcards, workbooks and DVDs.
  • Speak and listen to Hindi daily - even for 5-10 minutes. Kids might forget if there is too much gap. One easy way to do it is to make a routine, let’s talk only in Hindi at the dinner table or in the car.
  • Keep it simple! Don’t try to teach words that they are never going to use. Don’t make the sentences too long. It is ok to use commonly used English words as long as they are putting effort in speaking in Hindi. Try to keep to smooth and fun.

Most importantly, have fun with language, words, rhythm and rhyme.  Involve them in simple and interesting conversations and help your children explore a whole new world!

Taruna Arora is a native Hindi speaker and teacher. She has been teaching Hindi to students - young and old, for the last 14 years.

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