I have decided to start learning Hindi on Duolingo and the first thing to master are the letters. I am someone who has no background knowledge to Hindi, so I have some questions that I need people to answer to help me start strong instead of guessing and playing around with luck.
• Are there any resources that I can use to help me memorize Hindi letters in an easy way? Please make sure they are free and appropriate. • Any tips for learning Hindi? • Do you need to know how to write a language in order to be fluent, or only to speak and understand it?
Memrise offers a lot of courses on Hindi on basic words, letters etc. I used to learn Hindi in school and the only tip that I can give you is to practise a lot. It's got a lot of letters and kind of gets hard to grasp your head around but you'll get it after a while.
It's completely free and gives you quite a lot of practice. It's also quite repetitive and helps you retain it in your long term memory. I haven't used it for Hindi, however, and so I don't know if it's going to help you as much but I would advise trying it out.
I think it would be better if you learn how to write it as well because if you know the basics of the language ie. the letters and how it sounds and connective words, it's going to be easy. but you also need a lot of practice. Hope that I've helped :)
I started about a year ago with no knowledge of the Hindi letters. Read the tips for the "letters" lessons -- those are right here, so you already have access to them!
Practice drawing the characters. This, in my experience, really teaches you the shapes, and helps you distinguish some of the more similar ones (I, for example, had real trouble with ह, ड, and इ/ई, because my brain went "ah, vertical squiggly," for all three).
It's also difficult learning WHICH parts of the letters matter; for example, in English, I write my "q" with a little hook on its tail, but not everybody does that, and it isn't standard. The little loop on the end of "इ" does matter, but it's difficult to tell at first. I would recommend only doing Duolingo on the computer or on your phone to start with, since the fonts are slightly different, and add another level of complexity. When you're comfortable with the computer font or with the phone font, try switching your platform.
Other than those pieces of advice, just jump in. I would advise against getting to Level 5 for Letters 1, then moving on; in my opinion, it's better to get through the letters quickly and then review. For practice, go ahead and write out things phonetically with Devanagari; I wrote out the names of my entire family and a lot of my friends for practice. I have a few Hindi-speaking friends, so I already knew a few words; one of the things I'd do is try to guess the spelling, then use Google translate to see if I got it correct. (Don't use Google translate for phrases, of course, but it makes a good emergency dictionary.) Since you said you don't have any background knowledge of Hindi, that probably won't help, but you could go the other way and try to sound out words you see around. If you have an Indian grocery store near you, that could be a good vocabulary-building field trip (with bonus food). You can also search online for "hindi writing worksheets," and you should get some worksheets for kids who are just learning how to write. I had one of those and it was helpful! Here's one for the character "क," which is one of the first ones you'll learn on Duolingo. https://www.ecosia.org/images?q=hindi+writing+worksheets#id=023D1F7C65D9875CAFBF4242E1FEF68382CBA695
One word of warning: Devanagari is an abugida, not an alphabet, so the vowels are built-in to the characters. So, the character "क" is NOT "k," but "ka." It isn't too difficult once you get into the swing of things, but it can throw you off at first. Unlike some other writing systems, Hindi's characters don't change too much with the vowel sounds, so in practice it's really not that hard.
Because you seem fluent, or almost fluent, I wanted to ask a few questions regarding Hindi.
What does "Devangari" mean?
What is an "abugida?""
Otherwise, thank you for your tips and your post in this discussion because it really helped. I will definitely try each of your tips!
Definitely not fluent, just really enjoying studying Hindi! I should mention that this is all from a laywoman's perspective, so I may be getting details wrong.
Devanagari is the name of the writing system used for Hindi (sort of like how English is written using the Latin alphabet). It's also used for Marathi and Nepali, as well as a few others, if I recall correctly. Here's the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devanagari
An abugida (again, not a linguist, so there may be subtleties I'm missing) is a writing system that uses modifications to the consonants to provide the vowel sounds -- as opposed to an alphabet, where vowels are always written as distinct characters. Devanagari is an abugida. For example, the sound "ka" is represented by "क," and the sound "kee" is represented by "की." Here's the Wikipedia page for those. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abugida
Again, just jump in and try it! It sounds more confusing in theory than it does in practice, and, like anything, it will get easier as you go on. People on the forum here are usually very happy to help, so you have a good support group already!
livelife-happy I use https://www.hindibhasha.com/hindiscripttutor.htm to learn how to write Devanagari. The Devanagari Script Tutor uses Adobe Flash which, unfortunately, will stop working in most browsers at the end of 2020. The good news is that it is still available, although it may be blocked by your browser. Here is information on how to enable Flash in Google's Chrome browser: https://www.howtogeek.com/434334/how-to-enable-adobe-flash-in-google-chrome-76/