Open Learning Buddhist Studies
Bodhgaya News
Founded: March 15 2002
Last updated: July 27, 2008

Open Learning Hindi

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Welcome to Hindi Students from NUS!

Introduction for NUS students

Singapore, July 2008, Peter Friedlander. Namaste, I am in the process of setting up for teaching Hindi at NUS, the National University of Singapore. While I am working out all the details of how to put materials on the university website I thought those who might be interested in studying with me might like access to a few things.
Incidently this is a website which I have been running since 2002 and despite being mostly about Bodhgaya in Bihar contains a lot of other things as well, including some resources for learners of Hindi and materials related to Buddhist studies.

Introduction to Hindi

Introduction to Hindi is an audio file (mp3 format about 35 minutes, 13 MB) of an introduction to Hindi which I gave at the CAE in Melbourne in 2006. It gives an overview of how I came to learn Hindi, the relationship between Hindi and English and an outline of why learning the script can be fun.

Learn Hindi script Software

Beginning Hindi 1 is a windows based software package I developed to help people learn Hindi Script. It is in a zip file, all you need to do is download it (its about 17MB), unzip it somewhere on your computer, say on the desktop, and then open the folder and click on the file called BeginningHindi1.exe. Sorry, I never learned how to write software for Macs, and I think it won't work on them, and I have yet to explore Vista, and have no idea if it works on that either. Please note that like much software, you use it at your own risk and I am sorry I can't help you getting it to work on your computer.

Online Hindi Dictionary

Melbourne, November 2007, Peter Friedlander. A useful resource for those studying Hindi is my Historical Hindi Dictionary which I have been putting together for some time now. It includes around 2500 words useful to a beginning learner of modern Hindi.
To those interested in earlier forms of Hindi it also includes around 4000 words which are found in the teachings of Raidas (or Ravidas, or Ravidass), which represent a Hindi vocabulary in use sometime before 1700 (this was originally part of my PhD).


How I learned Hindi

You might be interested in hearing how I learned Hindi, before thinking of how it would be to learn Hindi from me.

I vividly remember from my first trip to India, back in 1977, finding it frustrating that I couldn't talk to most of the people that I met. So I decided to learn an Indian language, and as I was travelling in North India I decided to learn Hindi. To begin with I bought a copy of Teach Yourself Hindi by Mohini Rao and would sit with people in teashops and hotels trying to get them to go through the text with me. I learned a lot that way, but not enough.

In Varanasi in a teashop one day I was telling a man about my interest in learning Hindi and he offered to teach me. I then spent three months having a daily evening tutorial with Krishna Mohan Singh and in the day practicing what I had learned the day before with the family I was living with. By the end of the three months I had a fair smattering of spoken Hindi and was able to get by whilst living in a village in Madhya Pradesh where hardly anybody knew any English.

You can listen to me giving a talk (about twenty minutes) about learning Hindi in Benares in the 1970s which I gave at the AASA conference in Wollongong in June 2006.

Hindi In Banaras in the 1970s (MP3 Format, about 5mb)
Text of the written version of the talk (pdf format 132kb)
Slide Show to accompany talk (does not really work very well, sorry)

Following this initial stay in Benares I remained most of the time in India until 1982 when I went back to the UK and then spent from 1983 to 1991 studying Hindi and South Asian Literature and Religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies, which is a part of London University.

From 1997 to 2008 I ran a Distance Learning Hindi program based at La Trobe University which is in Melbourne Australia. It was based around the idea of students learning via a correspondence course. Australia is a unique country as despite having a land area equal to that of the USA (roughly) its population is hardly twenty million people. So its really difficult for people to come together to study a language of lesser demand like Hindi. Distance learning makes it possible. Students also studied with me from as far away as Paris, Nepal, St Louis, Hawaii and Singapore and found that it helped them in their Hindi studies. I wote Hindi teaching materials for La Trobe which try to be as self explanatory as possible and guided independent learners through the learning process.

In 2008 I came to Singapore and am now helping to set up a Hindi program at the National University of Singapore (NUS). This has given me an opportunity to redo my teaching materials again and incorporate into them insights gained from my experiences so far. Hopefully this means that NUS students will now have access to an exciting new Hindi course.


Why Study Hindi?

Less than five percent of Indians speak English. On the other hand around half of the Indian population can speak Hindi. So although you can certainly get by just fine in India speaking English, if you can speak Hindi you can talk with many more people and have a much deeper experience of being in India.

To me the experiences I had during my first attempts to learn Hindi showed me that the point of learning Hindi is not only can you get to talk to more people in India but you can talk to people who you could never talk to in English. People whose world view is radically different from those who have learned English.


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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.