Should you bother learning Hindi for your trip to India? In this post I share my experiences from travelling India and learning to speak Hindi, plus my reviews of the best Hindi learning apps.
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Should You Learn Hindi?
One of the frequently asked questions I get about travel to India is about language and communication. What is the best Indian language to learn, is English widely spoken in India, and for travellers, what language can be used throughout India?
If you’ve reached this post, you probably know that there is no such thing as “learning to speak Indian”. India is home to 22 official languages, and there are over a hundred unofficial languages, dialects and tongues spoken on the Indian subcontinent. Most Indians speak their state language or local dialect, plus Hindi, and depending on where you are, some English as well. It’s not uncommon for Indians to speak 3 or 4+ languages!
The most widely spoken languages of India are Hindi, and Indian English. That said, it can differ according to where you are in India – Hindi is spoken more in the north of India than in the south. You’ll also find that English is much less spoken once you’re outside of tourist hotspots and the big cities, and that’s where knowing an Indian language really comes in handy.
While it’s impossible to learn a language that everyone you meet along your journey in India will speak, learning some basic Hindi phrases through a good course such as Rocket Hindi is going to help a lot when it comes to communication in India.
In short, here are the top 5 reasons why I suggest anyone planning a trip to India learns (at least) some basic spoken Hindi:
- You can connect far more easily with the people you meet – especially once you head away from the main cities & tourist sites
- People will giggle, smile and generally love that you’re making an effort!
- It shows you mean business and aren’t a newbie India traveler (fewer scams)
- It implies you probably know a few locals (who have your back)
- Bargaining. If you can haggle in Hindi, better prices await you my friend!
Did I mention that Hindi is spoken by a staggering 455 million people, and is the 5th most spoken language in the world?
Even learning a few Hindi travel phrases can make a big (positive) difference to your trip. Want to barter like a pro for those souvenirs, avoid getting ripped off, or just be able to communicate more with people you meet? These best Hindi learning websites will help you on your way.
From my own travels around India, I have found myself in rural homestays, where the only people that spoke English were the men. I wished at the time that I had more than a basic command of Hindi so that I could have spoken to the ladies there.
When you speak Hindi, people will open up to you, invite you for chai and it will become much more possible to make geniune connections on your travels. Not least, the best window into a culture, is learning some of its language.
In my bid to learn better Hindi to speak with Ravi (my better half)’s family, I’ve been trying out different language sites and options for the best app to learn spoken Hindi. I wanted to share my experiences and in this guide I give my reviews for the (many) different ways to learn Hindi – and what is best for the different situations!
Best Apps for Hindi – Quick Comparison Chart
|Name||Free Trial?||Mobile App or Desktop?||Our Rating||More Info|
|Rocket Languages||Yes||Both||5*||Click here to get your free trial!|
|Rosetta Stone||No||both||4*||Click here to sign up!|
|Hindipod 101||Yes||Desktop||4*||Click here to get your free trial!|
|U Talk (Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati etc)||No||Mobile App||4*||Click here to get 20% off!|
|Duolingo||Free||Mobile App||3*||Click here to sign up!|
|Italki (Individual Lessons)||Trial lessons available||Both||5*||Click here to book a trial lesson!|
The Best Hindi Learning Apps Reviews
What to Consider When Signing Up to Learn Hindi
When choosing between the different apps and websites to learn Hindi, there are a few things to consider. Are you looking for a 30 days Hindi learning challenge? Do you want to be able to write Hindi in the Devanagari script, or just have a basic conversation and learn spoken Hindi? Do you need a teacher or do you prefer a plan that you can follow at your own pace?
Many of the Hindi learning apps and websites listed are great for those who are self-motivated and can follow an online plan or just spend a few minutes each day if you’re starting out. Many of the best Hindi language apps include fun games and quizzes as well as speaking and listening exercises to keep things fun.
I also recommend thinking about if you plan on using your computer/laptop to learn Hindi or whether you’ll be on your phone – there are certain apps that are only available on desktop while others provide mobile apps as well.
However if you want a more customised approach and need a bit of accountability, I also suggest checking out language learning platform Italki who will connect you with local teachers at very affordable rates. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable to learning Hindi.
Rocket Languages Hindi Review
Rocket languages is one of the most popular and best reviewed language learning websites out there – and the best thing is they offer a free trial so you can get a feel for how it works before deciding if you want to buy it. Rocket Languages has a mobile app for use on the go as well as the website.
Lessons include listening, speaking (you can record your voice and the voice recognition software will even give you a pronunciation score!), and I love the writing lessons. As you progress through the lessons there are videos that show you how to write in the Devanagari script, breaking it down. There are also culture lessons which provide insight into Indian culture through the Hindi language.
Rocket Languages Hindi is top of my list as it’s my favourite learn Hindi website I’ve used so far. I have loved the culture lessons and the fact that they use only native speakers for the recordings.
Founded by language lovers in the US, Rocket Lanugages was specially designed to help those who want to learn languages but don’t have the time or are feeling nervous about making mistakes or not being able to respond in real life situations. As a traveller, there’s nothing I appreciate more than a platform that gives me the encouragement I need to give it a go!
Sound like something for you? You can sign up for a free Rocket Languages Hindi trial here, or use the form below!
Rosetta Stone Hindi Review
I’ve tried language learning heavy-weights, Rosetta Stone, for a few different languages now, but was impressed by how much their platform has come along since I last tried it. On signing up, you can select a learning “route” that most fits your needs – for example travel, or speaking to family and friends.
Rosetta Stone is known for its unique way of learning, which mimics the way a child learns its first language – through subconscious absorption. Expect lots of listening, repetition and identifying exercises – especially in the early stages of learning, similar to Duolingo. If you learn best by listening and speaking, or have a visual memory, I highly recommend Rosetta Stone Hindi.
On my ‘cons’ list for Rosetta Stone, is it does not work so well for grammar – I too often found myself playing “guess the grammar rule” in my head as there aren’t explanations provided for the different language rules that are an essential part of learning. For this reason if you want to learn more advanced Hindi or get good at writing in Hindi, I would suggest Rocket Languages (above) over RS.
However, if you’re looking to speak to a reasonable level and learn quickly, you really can’t go wrong with Rosetta Stone. They have a great setup where you can learn on your phone, tablet or behind your laptop and everything is saved in their cloud.
I love Hindipod for their determination (and other things of course) but since the time I signed up to try out their platform for these reviews, they haven’t failed to send me my “Hindi word of the day” and remind me that Hindi is indeed.. waiting for me.
If – like me – you need a little reminder when it comes to learning languages, Hindipod101 is another great option when it comes to learning Hindi online. This is a great all-found Hindi learning platform, with speaking, listening, reading and writing lessons – so if you want to learn to speak and write Hindi to a solid level, this is a good option. I love their Devanagari letter reading lessons where you have to identify what each character looks like to start with – so you start learning the script and characters as you learn to speak.
Hindipod offers various levels of membership, through from free basic access through to a premium fast track option which comes with access to your own teacher – perfect for it you want to learn at a faster pace and with a little extra support. Hindipod is desktop/laptop use only but they also offer a free podcast for learning on the go as well!
U Talk Hindi Review
If you’re wondering about learning other Indian language than Hindi, then the U Talk App is the one for you. With Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Malayalam – 11 Indian languages in total, this is a great app if you’re going to be spending longer in India – or love to travel in a part of India where Hindi isn’t so well spoken (such as the south).
U Talk is available on the App only (not on desktop) and learning comes in the form mostly of interactive games. There are speaking games, memory games and phrase practices that are handily arranged in different topics – from numbers up to 20 to food and drink, to asking for directions, which makes it super helpful for travel.
My personal opinion on U Talk is that it’s a great app for practise on the go. I probably couldn’t master Hindi just from this app as there’s little covering reading and writing and no explanations, but this app is perfect for picking up some basics while travelling in India (need something to do on long train/bus rides?), for those who want to practice and improve the Hindi they already know, or for those who know some Hindi and want to learn another Indian language. Another bonus is it’s very affordable and reasonably priced, especially with our 20% off discount!
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If you’re looking for a free option to learn Hindi – there are many options which will give you a free trial (such as Rocket Languages) or will allow you access to the basic level to try it out for free (such as Hindipod101). Duolingo has the advantage of staying free, no matter how much you use it, but the ads do get annoying after a while.
Duolingo is great for practising what you already know in Hindi in an interactive way, or for picking up a few essentials on the go while already travelling in India. It won’t teach you writing as such but you can get a feel for how some of script characters look through the ‘pairs’ games where you have to match up the sounds to the characters or words.
All in all, I recommend trying one of the other free trials or free options above if you want to learn a decent level of Hindi – my own experiences with Duolingo have been that it’s great as a refresher or to test what I know, but I couldn’t learn Hindi using Duolingo alone.
Log on to your phone’s app store to download Duolingo or sign up on their website.
Italki Hindi Review
Last but not least, if you’re someone who learns better with an individual teacher (and let’s face it, who doesn’t), Italki is a great language learning platform that connects students to teachers to learn Hindi 1 on 1 via online video lessons, at very reasonable rates. Many teachers even offer a free trial lesson!
The benefit of having an individual teacher is that they can (usually) customise the lessons for what is important to you. Got a family function or wedding you need to attend and want to be able to talk with family? Want to be able to shop in Hindi? Or do you want to learn the full works – most teachers can start with what’s important to you.
Italki works well in conjunction with any of the apps mentioned above as well which you can use for extra practice, and it definitely helps to keep you accountable as well, when you book several lessons.
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