The White Hindu has moved

The White Hindu has moved! This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hindi Slow Down

I've run low on the energy it takes to study a new language every day. My progress now is so slight that I feel crushed by the weight of how much I don't know.

I am able to read and understand somewhat as long as it is simple material (Tintin movies, Teach Yourself Hindi book, Krishna comic books). Every time I try to write or speak, it comes out so grammatically wrong that people can't understand me.

I think the reason this happens is that when you are reading or hearing something, you can get the gist of it without understanding all the little parts. When producing the language, you have to know which postposition to use and what order to put the words in, and it's just a lot more to know.

I've been taking a bit of a break from it, trying to recharge my batteries, as it were. I've signed up for a class starting in mid-September at the Washington Language Institute. They offer nine levels of Hindi classes, and I signed up for the second level, since I already know the alphabet and the basics of the language. This should help me to start actually speaking and give more structure to my learning.

Being really good at a foreign language is remarkably difficult. For me, anyway. And being able to understand is great, but it isn't good enough. If I want to raise bilingual children, then I need to be able to speak the language and speak it correctly.

I am completely worn out from the effort.


  1. try thinking in simple hindi the level which u understand. also try typing the whole transalation of the blog in ur notepad or some thing or atleast type the summary of ur blog . if u want ucan publish it under a label of learning hindi in ur blog in this way people if they find the mistake can guide u. for learing a new language try being among the native speakers of that language if its possible & also ur brain must think in that language atleast for 2hr.
    my advice is write ur blog first in hindi of ur level in a rough notepad int his way u make ur brain think in hindi for sometime.
    also as a beginner u should purchase a good hindi to english dictionary. but dont be always dependent on that, slowly migrate to hindi to hindi dictionary and make a habit of referring more to hindi2hindi dictionary.
    also u should start reading short hindi {kids} stories & search for the meaning of difficult words in dictionary, i hope it helps. im not a trainer im just a student & i could not b always right.

  2. it is very difficult to get the skill of speaking without a lot of practice.
    which in USA you are unlikely to get.

    anyway, have you read "amar(immortal) chitra (picture) katha(stories) "?

    comics is actually a good way to learn a spoken language.
    - basu

  3. also wat i think is u should first learn the language to speak(by interacting with native hindi speakers in hindi only) when u become capable of expressing ur opinions/views in hindi fluently. then u should try to learn to read the litrature or grammar part or write it.
    i hope it helps. im not a trainer im just a student & i could not b always right.

  4. Hi Aamba,
    I know exactly how you feel. I too am useless at languages, and hadn't seemed to progress past a very elementary level in Hindi. I have taken a break, for a month now, but I do intend to try further after a rest.

  5. Hi Amba and Tandava
    i was fluent in hindi telugu kannada and english by the time I left high school. I started learning German as an evening course whilst I was very busy with my professional university education. I t was indeed difficullt to learn a language as a grown up that too if the spoken language in the street is not the same. Take it easy.

  6. Thanks for all the advice!

    I do have the Oxford Hindi to English dictionary and I also have a nice thick Hindi to Hindi dictionary that I'm trying to move over to.

    I also have a pile of Amar Chitra Katha, which I love.

    I might take the suggestion of writing Hindi on this blog. I might do a little paragraph in Hindi at the end of some of the posts. We'll see. I'm still learning to take constructive criticism! :) At least with you all, I would feel comfortable asking questions about your corrections.

    I have a couple of avenues for speaking with native speakers. One is the Hindi meet-up group that I am so grateful exists in D.C. Unfortunately, I'm starting to feel embarrassed to go because I still can't really say anything and it is so hard to even try. I keep showing up and I keep listening, which is helpful, but I feel like the people are starting to laugh at me. Probably my imagination though.

    I look forward to Chinmaya starting up again soon because I do overhear some Hindi there (though most of the people are South Indian, so there's a lot of other languages too).

    Surya, you sound extremely talented with language! I'm very impressed. I want to be multi-lingual and I have a lot of determination to get there but sometimes I push myself much too hard!

  7. "Surya, you sound extremely talented with language! I'm very impressed".

    Amba I dont deserve the credit all that much. Its more of a cultural necessity than talent. The town I grew up was populated by both telugu and kannda speaking natives (that border Andhra and Karnataka states). Thus these two are a matter of natural childhood aquisitions.English and Hindi were shoved down our throats in schools thanks to the state education policy.My wife grew up in Punjab, so she speaks all 4 above but replace kannada with punjabi.Our mother tongue is Teleugu.Now here in Midwest both my school going kids speak only one language, like you.

    I was trying to highlight my failed attempt to learn German language more than anything, thats all. My advice is not to put hindi on your blog here, it will be stretching things a bit too can have a private email exchange with KK instead...

  8. Thanks, Surya. There is a program for language learning where you write blog entries in the language you are trying to learn and they get corrected. I tried it for a bit, but I found it too hard to feel like I was always doing everything wrong! :)

  9. hinduism knows no language... hindi is no special.

  10. I've read that you don't need to speak a language perfectly in order to raise your children bilingual. Just like you don't need to have perfect pitch to sing your baby a lullaby, you don't need perfect grammar to have the child pick up on the basics. You're providing a grounding that is far superior to nothing at all.

    Keep faith, my friend. The language will come. You have the will, the way will come to you.