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Will I become completely fluent in reading/writing Hindi with Duolingo?

Hello. I have been on Duolingo for a little while now, and I'm a native English speaker. I am learning French (or rather, I WAS--I slacked off for a few months lol), and I am now interested in learning the Hindi writing system. I am also a native speaker of Hindi. However, I'm only semi-fluent, and I can't read or write in Devanagari. Since I am already fluent-ish, I want to know whether using Duolingo will help me understand the writing system. I understand Duolingo alone can't ensure complete literacy in any language for anyone even after completing all the courses. However, I understand the grammar and sentence structure of the spoken language, and I believe the writing/characters are all phonetic. It is also important to note that I don't know all the Hindi words--I can speak coherently and correctly in the mix of Hindi and English that most Delhi natives use, if that makes any sense.


January 3, 2020



I learned to type in Devanagari. It was a steep learning curve, but it can be done. Doing the Hindi course and the reverse tree will certainly help with learning to read and type in Devanagari. I can't read as easily as I read the Latin alphabet yet, but I am getting better. In the beginning it is difficult since it works in a different way than the Latin alphabet, but once you get it, you never (well, hardly ever) have to wonder how a word is pronounced, because the writing makes that crystal clear.


Hi, what is the "reverse tree"?


They probably mean English for Hindi speakers. Which is a good idea.

Does the Hindi for English speakers course ever include any Devanagari typing?


Yes, it does. It has a lot of different vocab as well, so doing it is a good idea, if you want to learn Hindi.


I'm not fluent, but after about four months on Duolingo, I was able to sound out most of the Hindi labels in a friend's kitchen. I could find, for example, the sugar, which was in an opaque container and labelled only in Hindi. I doubt I'll ever be as fast a reader in Hindi as in English, but I picked up the writing system pretty quickly using Duolingo. I did practice writing out all the characters on my own. I spent a good amount of time transliterating random English words phonetically into Devanagari, too, which helped me a lot. I would imagine that having a good Hindi vocabulary would give you a leg up, as, if you can't remember which sound a character makes, you could fill in from context. My Hindi vocabulary was pretty small when I started Duolingo, and basically consisted of names of spices.


I'm starting from the same point, i know the words for vegetables and grandparents.

How far does the duolingo course go?

Does it ever involve typing in Hindi, how do they do the interface for that?

Does it get up to all the different ligatures between consonant pairs?


On desktop, you can choose the "use keyboard" option, and then use a Hindi keyboard on your computer. I basically Googled "how to get a Hindi keyboard on a Mac," since that's my personal computer, and went from there. Turns out that a Hindi keyboard comes pre-loaded on Macs, so installing one is fairly simple.

The mobile app, though, doesn't seem to have any keyboard options, at least not since the latest update I got.


So, there aren't any actual typing directions; you just have to pick it up on your own. BUT, you do get a lot of reading practice, and so spelling (the hardest part of learning to write in English) really isn't an issue. I'm not a good typist in Hindi, but, after an hour or so of playing around with a Hindi keyboard, and looking up online tutorials, I can now type whatever I want (albeit slowly).

The ligatures are pretty simple on the keyboards I've used; you type the first consonant, then the halant (if I remember its name correctly; this thing: ् ), then the second letter. So, to type "क्या," you type "क" then "्" then"य," then "ा".

Does that answer your question?


Practicing the characters with paper and pen or pencil makes the transition to typing pretty easy, in my opinion, sine you understand the structure of the writing system! Touch-typing, which I can do in English, is another matter, and there's a "phonetic" Hindi keyboard, which roughly maps the Hindi characters to their English equivalent. I haven't had much practice with that, and I'm still firmly in the "hunt-and-peck" stage of Hindi typing.

Just work on Duolingo for a bit, get through the alphabet lessons into the vocab stage, and see how you're progressing. At worst you'll learn a little of how the language works.


Sorry, that sounded condescending, and I was thinking you were the original poster.

The vocabulary doesn't go nearly as far as I'd like, but it's gone far enough that I can impress my Hindi-speaking coworkers with a few phrases. It's a solid start, at any rate, and I can hold very simple conversations. I can also ask for more vocabulary : "यह क्या है?"


Duolingo cannot make you fluent in anything as there are some critical areas of language learning that are just plain outside of its domain.

What it can do and will do if you are disciplined with it is help you build your vocabulary and give you a general sense of basic grammar.


Read the rest of the post, they are already bilingual native speaker in spoken Hindi, they already have "a general sense of basic grammar", so they are not asking that. They are asking specifically if it could help a fluent speaker learn Devanagari.


you may as well give it a go, it will probably help even if it doesn't get you all the way there, it's helped a bit with my dreadful English spelling while learning other languages. It will probably get you started enough that it will be feasible to use the language to get a lot of practice.

disclaimer, i've thus far not managed to get fluent in any language other than English, but i strongly suspect it's lack of practice actually using the language. So far the only language i've tried to do that for is German, and almost every German speaker i have ever met speaks English far better than i speak German, so it's far too easy for me to get lazy and frustrated and revert to English. When i read books i get frustrated by there being too many unknown words, but if your spoken language skills are good, you won't have to get over that initial vocabulary barrier.

I went through a stage of spending hundreds of dollars on evening classes, and really they weren't very useful. In suspect duolingo plus practising at every opportunity will work better than a lot of more traditional methods.

As someone else suggested, you will likely benefit from also doing the English for Hindi speakers course. The instructions for everything will be in Devanagari so that's some extra immersive practice. And it is more likely to involve writing in Devanagari (i don't know if the Hindi for English speakers version includes that?) I've been doing English for German speakers as well as German for English (hence being level 11 in my native language), i find it useful. I have also been trying German for Arabic speakers, because it gets started on typing in Arabic straight away (i'm worried i sound crazy trying so many at once, but i guess you can see my flag collection anyway).

"I believe the writing/characters are all phonetic."

Hindi is probably better than English (but English spelling is crazy), or Urdu (which leaves out most of the vowels), but if the questions i have been seeing on Quora are anything to go by there are some exceptions. The couple of examples i have seen are cases where the spelling matches an old Sanskrit word, but the Hindi pronunciation leaves out a letters or says a letter a bit differently.

Based on how it is in English, the exceptions to phonetic spelling are probably in the more common words. So the introductory vocab in duolingo might cover most of the exceptions. I guess the reason is probably frequently used words get said more often and the pronunciation drifts more? i find long scientific words are sometimes easier to spell than very common words. though, if your family know it, you'll know pople more knowledgeable than i am for that?

Practice will obviously make a big difference, reading much longer things than on duolingo. But if you already have a decent vocabulary, i'd expect you might get up to the stage where reading books is feasible with just duolingo, then it's just practice. Try to just dive in as soon as you can. Maybe read translayions of your favourite book, you can still get the gist of the sttpry without looking up every word

if any of your family, or anyone you know, fluently read devanagari write anything you would normally write to them in it. [shopping list, facecbook messages, etc.] or if no one you speak to often reads it fluently, see if you can talk them into learning with you.

it depends what you want to use it for, to be a professional translator you will likely need formal qualifications, but for a lot of other purposes just knowing another language is useful and people don't care much how you learned it.


Thank you for the suggestions!

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