My girlfriend is Indian and Hindi-speaking and I would like to learn some Hindi so to be able to talk with her using basic sentences and improve through speaking.

I have been trying using Duolingo (which I admit I don't think it's a good learning tool) but the main obstacle is that it requires to learn the alphabet before being able to learn the language. I guess it's probably not the right way to proceed but I would like to learn to speak rather than writing.

Do you know any source (free or paid) that helps learning Hindi as a speaker?

4 Answers 4


Not what you want to hear, but I don't think you'll find a good learning tool that doesn't require you to learn the script. I'm not a Hindi learner but I have quite a bit of experience learning other languages that use Indic scripts (mostly Thai), and I've seen quite a few people learn those languages with varying approaches to the script and varying degress of success.

The thing is that you have to have some way to write down what you are hearing / learning, and the only good way is to use the script that belongs to the language. Sure, in theory you can transliterate into the latin alphabet, but in practice transliteration systems are a disaster. For one thing they're inconsistent, but more importantly they wreck your pronunciation. If you write down the words of your target language using the spelling system of your own language you will end up saying them with the sounds of your own language. Some of those sounds may be similar enough for you to be understood, but none of them will really be the same, so at best you are locking in a strong foreign accent.

Quite a few people recommend using the IPA as a kind of stepping stone, but that takes time that you could put towards learning the script itself (and you're going to have to learn it one day...) You also have to bear in mind that each IPA symbol actually covers a pretty wide range of sounds. People will talk as if the IPA is more precise than other writing systems, but that's not the case at all. If you want to be precise there are all sorts of diacritics you can add to the basic symbols, but it's a fair bet that learning all of those would take you longer than learning the Hindi script.

If you take it a step at a time it really doesn't take all that long to learn a new script, and it gives you a much better foundation for learning the vocab, grammar - and above all pronunciation - of the new language.

  • Fair point. I guess I am just being lazy; I'll put some more effort and I'll go for the script!
    – PhDing
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 16:56

Rupert Snell's book from the "Teach Yourself" series, Getting Started in Hindi, provides a transliteration for all the Hindi in the book.

That said, he also suggests learning Devanagari:

Although a roman transliteration is provided for all the Hindi in this book, learning to read and write the Devanagari script is extermely worthwhile. Its phonetic basis makes it really easy to learn; and if you're in India, being able to read the Hindi all around you in signs and posters will bring its own reward, even before you start reading more ambitiously.

Getting Started in Hindi page xv


I've found BBC's Hindi Urdu Bol Chaal helpful. I don't know whether it's available any more. I 'strongly' believe that learning the writing system is NOT necessary if you only want to be fluent in speaking and comprehending spoken Hindi. I've tried it before, and I'm reasonably good at mimicking the sounds by listening, it wasn't a huge problem to follow the programme. The only thing going against me was I didn't have time to pursue it. By the way, I'm a native Japanese speaker, and I help people learn both Japanese and English (Japanese speakers). I have no interest in learning the writing system, no matter what. Those letters are phonetic to those who know them but not to others. I know this from 'sort of' teaching Japanese with a complex writing system to English speakers. Good luck with finding good resources!


Pimsleur is all audio. It would be a good start.

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