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Learning Hindi

Keys to Learning Hindi 3: Practice and How to Hire a Teacher

Learning a language takes commitment and dedication. The hardest part of learning any language is committing to a set amount of study each day.

I know this because I’ve fallen into week and month-long periods where my Hindi practice was forgotten entirely. To keep me motivated and moving forward I’ve reserved 1 hour per day for study at 9 am.

Usually, that time is spent with me working through Complete Hindi, watching a Hindi University lesson, or on the Duolingo app. The more I stick to my daily study, the more I learn and over time, it really adds up!

My weekly Hindi learning routine

Every morning: 20 minutes of reading, writing and speaking practice from a Hindi coursebook or YouTube.

Every night: Three lessons of Duolingo.

Every Sunday: A 1-hour live lesson via Hindi University.

What YouTube and apps can’t teach you

I find Duolingo to be the best Hindi learning app available, but it’s only good for learning and practising vocabulary, sentence structure, and reading. Unfortunately, it won’t teach you to speak or proper pronunciation.

Learning from a book, app, or YouTube can’t teach you to have conversations in Hindi.

The goal of any language learner is to be able to use the desired language confidently in conversations. This is why you require one more thing in your quest to learn Hindi: a language practice buddy.

I teasingly call my practice buddy my “Hindi Guru.” But in all seriousness, that’s precisely what they are. A Hindi Guru is someone who takes on the role of a Hindi teacher in your life.

With a Hindi Guru, you talk with a real Hindi speaker and learn from them. There is absolutely no substitute for this role in your Hindi learning. It’s the most vital thing to learn Hindi as quickly and accurately as possible.

My Hindi Guru is my wife, but a word of warning on this: Having a partner as your Hindi Guru is generally a bad idea. I don’t know the exact reason why, but I, and many others, have found friends to be better suited and willing to be your teacher.

My wife Manisha Malik at our village in Rajasthan.

If you’re lucky enough to have an Indian partner, what they’re useful for is a person to practice your Hindi with as much as possible around the home, but they tend to not make great or reliable teachers.

If you don’t have any native Hindi speaking friends who are willing to help you, the next best thing is hiring a Hindi tutor to be your conversation partner and teach you little bits and pieces as you go.

Once you’ve found your Hindi Guru, what do you do? You meet once a week for an hour-long chat in Hindi and a cup of masala chai at a café or at home. Speak as much as possible in Hindi and make LOTS of mistakes!

The job of your Guru is to listen and conversate back at the same level of Hindi. They will also pick up on common errors you’re making and help you correct them. All that is required is a meeting once a week.

Make sure to note down and bring any questions you have during your self-taught learning to your Guru for clarification too. Conversation and real-world practice is what solidifies a language in your brain and is essential for learning.

How to hire a Hindi teacher?

Now, I know, finding an in-person Hindi Guru can be hard. If you can find one, they always seem to live on the opposite side of town. That was my experience until I literally moved next door to a Hindi school in New Delhi. That’s not very practical for most of us. But there’s one more option I’ve used and had success with: online Hindi teachers.

I studied Hindi remotely via Skype for three months, 4 hours a day. If you find a Hindi teacher in India, it’ll only cost you between $4 – $10 per hour. I’ve written a blog post on how to set yourself up to study remotely.

Your online teacher will be your Hindi Guru who you can practice conversation and work through your Hindi book with. Adding an online Hindi teacher to your Hindi learning schedule will supercharge your progress. It can be hard to study a language on your own so having a teacher for 1 or 2 sessions a week keeps the momentum going.

I’ve gone and surveyed 3 Hindi schools in India, who all do online lessons, so when looking for a teacher, you can start at that blog post. I have personally attended HindiGuru in New Delhi and Landour Language School in Mussoorie. Both are good.

Above all, if you can study Hindi full-time with a teacher, do it. This is the best. But also the least practical for most of us.

If my content has helped you, please leave a comment.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock is a Hindi speaking expat who left his career and life behind in New Zealand to take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India.

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