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.
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.
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