I made it my new year’s resolution to be fluent in Hindi this year. I am one of those people who has a very hard time learning language and I never learned much in school. In high school I studied Latin and in college, Sign Language and Sanskrit, but I have never been able to make much use of any of them.
As I started to try to live my life by following my heart, I knew that I very much wanted to be bilingual. I started looking for a language to devote myself to. The trouble I was having was that I wanted to learn them all and I couldn’t focus!
Finally I realized that learning Hindi would be a great step toward being integrated in the Hindu/Indian community. There are so many hundreds of Indian languages and dialects that picking one is overwhelming, but Hindi is the language of movies and news and many Indians speak it as a second language, if not the first.
I feel as though being fluent in Hindi will somehow prove to people how serious I am about this path. The dedication it will take to get this new language will show my dedication to Hinduism and I will not appear flakey. That’s some of the psychological stuff floating around in my brain, anyway.
I started with Rosetta Stone and I am extremely happy with the results I’ve gotten. I’ve become such a proselytizer of Rosetta Stone products. A few years ago they had a system that was not as good and I had that, but this summer I discovered they revamped everything and addressed all the problems in the old system (things like not learning how to say anything about one’s self, not learning basics like greetings, etc.). I am working on level 3 now (which is currently the highest level of Hindi) and what it has given me is the feel for the language.
I have a lot of vocabulary, I can read the script well, and I also have a sense for what “feels” right or wrong in a sentence. It came into my brain in such a natural way that I hear the rhythms of the language in my dreams and there has been no “work” at memorizing. I am able to have simple conversations now and I'm getting close to understanding more complex ideas. I’ve begun to supplement it with other things now, and I have several children’s books and DVDs in Hindi that I’m learning to read/understand.
It is my great hope that I will be able to raise my children bilingual, so it is my goal to have the language solidly down by the time I become pregnant. My boyfriend, who loves Bollywood movies, has also begun to use my Rosetta Stone, so someday we hope to have it be a language our whole family can use together.
For anyone else interested in learning Hindi, here are the resources I have found the most helpful:
http://www.chandabooks.com/1844/index.html (great beginner’s books like Aamu the Aam)
www.ispeakhindi.com (audio lessons with a lot of variety and depth going back every day for months)
http://taj.chass.ncsu.edu/ (video lessons with scripts, allows you to hear real native speakers in their home environment. Also has exercises and quizzes, but not everything is working all the time)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/019864339X/ref=oss_product (my favorite dictionary)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0756638577/ref=oss_product (a visual dictionary, which is a great idea. It has a lot of “borrowed” English words, but it is packed full of vocabulary)
http://www.youtube.com/user/dlfcity4#p/u/4/mUFwiN0hWV0 (Sesame Street clips in Hindi)
http://www.amarchitrakatha.com/international/index.php (Comic books and DVDs in Hindi)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hindi/ (Hindi speakers yahoo group. The people here are very advanced and knowledgeable)
http://www.transparent.com/hindi/ (a blog with short grammar lessons)
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&p=5835F8A615009A6C (children’s cartoon stories in Hindi)
http://www.hindigym.com/stories.php (more children’s videos)
http://lang.ojnk.net/hindi/ (a list of useful info put together by the Yahoo group)
http://pustak.org/bs/home.html (website in Hindi, selling Hindi novels and books)
http://www.indiaclub.com/shop/Children.asp (books in Hindi, including translations of The Little Prince, and Harry Potter)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/hindi/ (the BBC news in Hindi)
Hindi: a spoken thesaurus (a podcast of conversations between Robert Snell, a leading expert on Hindi, and an Indian woman about esotaric parts of grammar. I don't understand a word of it, but it's something to aim for)
New Links Added 5/12/2010 (I have not yet tried all of these!)
Classes in D.C.
Worksheet and videos for kids
Online course materials for college class
A bunch of links
Kid's CD with games
University of PA
New York University
Defense Language Institute
Hindi bolo blog
Learn Hindi from Bollywood Movies
Trip to the Market video
Hindi through Songs
more Hindi literature
more Hindi Literature
To help you read it, this cool web reader
youtube Hindi karaoke
More New Links (ongoing updated)
Appu Series -DVDs for kids about body parts, the planet earth, animals, and nursury rhymes in Hindi and a DVD in English that I have about why we go to the temple.
Almost a Frequency List
And now that I've figured out how to embed videos, something really cute that will get stuck in your head!
Edit: It seems that the video has been removed :( Too bad, it was an adorable nursery rhyme cartoon. Here are a couple of cute kids attempting to sing the same song: