This was the biggest mistake I made in my Hindi learning journey:
I took advice from “experts” who said, “Always learn to speak first, then write.”
This advice is fine for most languages, but most languages don’t have an alphabet where 8 letters sound incredibly similar to each other!
The letters ड (Da) ढ (Dha) द (da) ध (dha) ट (Ta) ठ (Tha) त (ta) and थ (tha) all sound exactly the same to a new Hindi learner.
So, what happened is I just defaulted to using त for the T sounds and द for the D sounds and was mispronouncing a ton of words!
The only way to know precisely what letter to pronounce is by learning the Hindi script, Devanagari, first. Then when you’re learning a new word, you can write it down and learn the correct pronunciation.
When I learn a new word with one of these tricky letters, I always ask, “Which D (or T) letter is used in this word?” and make a note.
Hindi is a language that is pronounced exactly as it’s written. There are very few trick words like “gym” (pronounced “jim”) which English is littered with. This is a big plus for you as a learner because it means that reading and writing in Hindi can be learnt very quickly.
Resources I recommend for learning to read Hindi
To learn reading and writing, I recommend Teach Yourself Beginner’s Hindi Script by Rupert Snell. It’s a short read and allowed me to learn Hindi script within a month.
Alongside that book, I also printed an A4 poster of the Hindi alphabet which I stuck on my home office wall so I was facing it all day.
While learning to read, every morning I spent 20 minutes going through an alphabet pronunciation drill and an alphabet plus vowels drill with a delightful woman addressing me as a child.
I’ve also shared a post on how to study online efficiently.
Important: I recommend you learn the basics of Hindi script with a book and the pronunciation drills before continuing to the Overcoming the 5 Challenges of Hindi posts. I’ve purposefully used the Hindi script in that section because you must learn to read it.
If my content has helped you, please leave a comment.
10 replies on “Keys to Learning Hindi: 1. Learn to Read First!”
Amazing blog! Keep o going and helping us! Thanks!!!
Thank you 🙏
Hi! How do I get the E-Book? I can’t find it on your blog. Thank you!
Hey Brittany, the entire book is right here as blog posts, check the bottom of each post for Table of Contents https://blog.karlrock.com/how-to-learn-hindi-faster-than-i-did/. Good luck with your Hindi journey.
Hi karl, i just found your page. I am learning Hindi now. It’s tough but your blog helps.
Best of luck Mel. Keep going 🙏
HI Karl. I have seen some of your videos and just checked out your blog. You are inspiring. I’m eager to learn this beautiful language. Beautiful journey.
Kind regards from Colombia, South America.
Thank you for your very kind comment. Best of luck with your studies.
I fully agree. I taught myself Bengali using a book and the first thing it does it teach you how to read/write. It taught me the entire alphabet and how to read conversations before it taught me to say “how are you?” Learning to read is fundamental and a great idea. And yes, it takes months of hard work but it is 100% worth it.