Learning a new language can be an incredibly rewarding endeavor. It can open doors in your professional and social lives, expand your mind, and it can lead to new opportunities across the globe. When it comes to deciding which language to learn, however, there’s not always a clear answer — there are good reasons for learning just about any.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some very convincing reasons to learn Hindi, a language spoken by more than 600 million people worldwide.
Why Should I Learn Hindi?
1. It’s the Third Most Spoken Language in the World
This compelling fact is hard to ignore. If learning a new language appeals to you because of the new people it will allow you to communicate with, choosing one with over 600 million speakers is a sound decision. The fact that there are so many speakers of this language is beneficial for a few reasons.
One of these is that there is greater potential for professional opportunities when learning such a widely spoken language. It’s true that many Hindi speakers (especially in India) also speak English, but being able to speak the language still provides a definite advantage. Any language with this many speakers will have opportunities in a wide variety of professional fields.
Another plus side of learning a language that is spoken by so many is that there’s no shortage of learning material and conversation partners. Even if you aren’t in a country where Hindi is spoken, there are plenty of language-exchange apps and programs you can use to connect with Hindi speakers.
2. Experience India on a Deeper Level
To not talk about how knowing Hindi would change your experiences in India would be to miss the point entirely. There’s nothing quite like being in a foreign country and being able to speak at least some of the language, and this is absolutely true in India.
India is unlike any other country in the world. It’s home to an ancient and rich culture, diverse geographical regions, world famous cuisine, and much more. There’s something for just about everyone in this amazing country, and that’s one of the reasons it’s such a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.
Traveling to India is likely to be an enriching experience whether or not you speak Hindi, in part because the country has so much to offer and also because a high percentage of the population speaks English. However, some Hindi skills under your belt can make your experience much, much deeper.
In addition to making the logistical aspects of any trip to India easier, speaking Hindi will grant you the opportunity to experience life as it is for those that actually live there. You’ll be able to understand the people around you and what you hear on the radio or see on TV. This makes for an entirely different experience than one where you don’t understand what anyone around you is saying.
3. Enjoy and Interact With Indian Culture
Indian culture is special — it’s no fluke that it’s so popular around the globe. One of the biggest cultural exports from India is Bollywood, an enormous film scene started in Bombay (present day Mumbai) in the 1930s. It’s grown into a massive industry that produces hundreds of films in Hindi each year. These films are immensely popular in India and abroad.
In addition to movies, Indian music is another amazing cultural element of India that can be better enjoyed with some Hindi knowledge. There are some special instruments, such as the tabla and the sitar, that come from Indian music, and it plays a major role in Indian culture.
Some experience with Hindi will grant you the ability to understand the nuance and greater meaning present in both of these Indian art forms.
4. Hindi Isn’t as Hard as You Might Think
Most people don’t think of Hindi as an especially easy language to learn. In fact, the opposite is usually true. The U.S. Foreign Services Institute (FSI) classifies Hindi as a Category III language, meaning they estimate it takes about 900 hours of focused study for a native English speaker to reach a proficient level.
It’s true that Hindi may not be the easiest language you could choose to learn, but it’s far from impossible. For one thing, Hindi is highly phonetic; once you learn the pronunciation rules in relation to the alphabet, you won’t have to do much guessing with how to correctly pronounce new words.
Another advantage you’ll already have as an English speaker is that the language is written from left to right. This is something that makes learning to read and write the language immediately easier than something like Mandarin, Japanese, or Arabic.
Hindi also doesn’t use articles, words like “the” or “a/an.” This is an extra bonus to the Hindi learner — fewer words to learn!
Finally, there are some English loanwords in Hindi and vice versa that will speed the learning process. If you know what “jungle,” “bungalow,” and “guru” mean, you already speak some Hindi!
5. Learning Hindi Can Help You Learn Other Languages
No language exists in a vacuum — there are relationships between languages that make learning one beneficial to understanding another. For example, English shares a lexical similarity of over 33% with Spanish, meaning they share a significant amount of vocabulary and knowing one makes learning the other much easier.
This same concept is true for Hindi and several other languages. Hindi comes from the ancient language Sanskrit and is part of the Indo-Iranian sub family of the Indo-European language tree. Other languages in this sub family include Urdu, Bengali, and Nepalese.
Although learning Hindi will provide the greatest benefit for those learning one of the above languages, the progress you make with Hindi will prove useful for just about any language you choose to learn later. Learning any language exercises your brain and will help you discover useful study methods that work for you and can be applied to future endeavors.
6. Look After Your Brain Health
This is a point that applies to learning any language, not just Hindi. Learning any new skill is beneficial to brain health, and this is especially true for when it comes to language learning.
Language acquisition has been proven to help postpone signs of mental deterioration associated with aging as well as develop strong cognitive functions. People that speak more than one language are typically better at multitasking and problem solving, for example.