On Monday night, I started a ten-week course in Beginners Hindi. I spend a lot of time speaking with people in India, and I thought it would be fun to learn a bit. After all, I’m pretty fluent in Mandarin and still maintain the basics of my quickly fading Vietnamese– so I thought I would pick up some Hindi.
I’m taking the course at the Abingdon & Witney College in Abingdon. I don’t know why I didn’t just take a course in London– I’m there every day anyway and could have just postponed the commute a few hours– but the teacher seems nice and the class is small.
I have four new classmates. All of them are English and have very interesting reasons for learning the language. There’s a lady who travels to India from time to time and wanted to use some basic Hindi. There’s a young, free-spirited, student who travels all over the world and has fallen in love with India. There’s also guy who teaches foreign languages and liked the idea of picking another one up. There’s also a woman who married a man from India and would like to pick up some Hindi so she could converse with his parents. It’s a nice group.
The class is not very structured. The teacher kept asking us how we prefer to learn? She handed out a vocabulary list with not very many words on it– but all of the spelling were transliterations. I asked whether the transliterations were consistent (like the Pinyin in Mandarin) and always spelled the same way. Apparently they aren’t. Several books spell the same word several ways.
I asked about the alphabet (Devanagari) and how long it would take to learn it. One thing we always said in any of the Mandarin courses I’ve taken over the years is “If it had an alphabet, reading this would be so much easier.” Hindi is character-based, and I thought we would probably do okay learning to read it–despite how difficult it might look. If children could learn using Devanagari, surely we could too. We spent the second half of the class writing 6 of the letters and learning how to pronounce them. It actually is a lot harder than it looks.
Anyway, we’ll see how this goes. This doesn’t look like an intensive course, but it’s a start.