Of course, it’s one thing to hear someone say “Namaste!” and quite another to pronounce it right yourself. When learning a foreign language, it takes a lot of dedication to learn to speak like a native.
Practising Hindi on Your Own
Of course, when you learn Hindi it’s easy to think you know how an “l” should go and quite another to have to pronounce it. Whether you are practising your alphabet or have moved on to grammar and vocabulary and longer phrases, it’s always useful to hear yourself speak.
Use the record-setting on your phone, speak into a mike on your PC or even take out your old cassette recorder - it’s always useful to hear yourself speak. Don’t worry about your voice sounding funny - we hear our own voices through the amplifier of our own skull, which is why we have trouble recognising it when we hear it in recordings. Focus instead on the way you are pronouncing new words and where your weaknesses lie.
Here’s a good way to set up a practice session for Hindi pronunciation:
- First pronounce the sounds individually. When you’re starting out, take about 10 sounds per session to work on; as you progress, focus on those you have trouble with. Listen to a native Hindi speaker, record yourself, listen to yourself, repeat.
- Then pick a few words from a Hindi dictionary or your Hindi vocabulary list and pronounce them. This will help you learn to string the sounds together. Listen to them on a Hindi online dictionary and try and get not just the sounds, but make sure the emphasis is on the right syllable.
- As you progress, pick one or two sentences from a book or, even better, a film, and repeat those. This will help you practice the rhythm of the language. Remember, a language is like a song: each one has its own rhythm, with different syllable emphasised in each word and different words emphasised in each sentence! Take some time occasionally to listen to several different languages with your eyes closed - each one has a different rhythm.
- For advanced students, a challenging exercise might be to look up and pronounce some Hindi tongue twisters!
Improve your Hindi pronunciation with a native speaker
Another way to practice is to speak with a native Indian - someone from Delhi or Kolkata who grew up with Hindi as a mother tongue. There are several ways you can do this:
- Find a Hindi language partner through a language exchange website or app
- Hire a private tutor to speak to you in Hindi and help with your pronunciation.