According to Ethnologue, Hindi recently surpassed Spanish in the number of speakers worldwide. Hindi is now the third most spoken language.
So this is the perfect time to learn Hindi.
There are many ways to study Hindi online, but a lot of people prefer to learn through books.
To make your book choice as easy as possible, I’ve listed the best books for speaking Hindi and for Hindi literacy below.
What are the best books for learning to speak Hindi?
If you’re looking to speak Hindi, take your pick from these excellent publications:
This is the most popular book in the learning Hindi category. It’s easy to see why.
This book teaches conversational Hindi through storytelling. Pingu is a Hindi beginner student who enjoys cricket, Bollywood, and swimming. You learn Hindi through Pingu’s language journey.
You have 14 chapters, each with examples, relevant vocabulary, exercises and quizzes (answers at the back of the book). You’ll quickly learn common language ‘hacks’ that allow you to build your own sentences using different tenses and forms.
It’s written by a tutor who owns HindiUniversity, an online Hindi forum boasting students from over 100 countries, so you know you’re in good company.
To make it even easier to learn Hindi, you’ll see links to the author’s free YouTube channel. This is where you’ll discover more vocabulary plus help with pronunciation.
This book has 10 chapters covering everyday topics, from conversing with friends to booking a hotel room. The author uses innovative teaching methods that allow you to figure out language rules and patterns. This means the language ‘sticks.’
You’re also able to test yourself to track your progress. You get downloadable audio transcripts to help with pronunciation. And you receive downloadable vocabulary and language reference lists.
The advantage of this book is that, while the focus is on speaking Hindi, you’ll also learn to write the language. The concepts are written in both English and Hindi. This will suit you if you wish to learn Hindi quickly (perhaps for an upcoming trip to India) but also want to learn written Hindi in the long term.
The book is structured so that by the end, you will achieve Novice High proficiency level of ACTFL (The American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages) or A2 Beginner level of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), depending on where you live.
One drawback is that Hindi words are in a small font that may be difficult for everyone to read.
The next most popular book to help you learn Hindi is another that focuses on spoken Hindi but also helps you write the language.
Written by a respected author, it uses storytelling to keep your interest and help you learn about India’s culture. It’s not just vocabulary and grammar through its 18 chapters.
There is an emphasis on ‘everyday Hindi,’ which uses loan words from English and Urdu as well as regional variations. The goal is not for you to become a Hindi ‘purist’ but someone who can easily converse in Hindi with locals.
As with all good language books, there are worked examples and exercises so you can self-test your progress. You also receive online audio to help with pronunciation and more vocabulary and dialogue.
Strangely, it doesn’t advertise the comprehensive website that gives further resources. You only discover this once you’ve purchased the book. This alone can make this book a great choice.
It’s also a structured learning program to help you achieve level B2 of the Common European Framework for Languages.
From Chapter 6 onwards, Hindi is used predominantly. English is used sparingly. I assume this is the author pushing their readers to learn to write and speak Hindi. Some students may find this daunting.
Also, there are reports that the Hindi words don’t work on Kindle. This means that if writing Hindi is a goal, the book is compromised in the first 6 chapters and almost unusable from chapter 7 onwards. I recommend you buy the hard copy version of the book.
This book, written by university professors, help you speak, read, and write Hindi in tandem. Because of this, from the word go, the book dispenses with using English as the main language and focuses on using written Hindi.
Indeed, the first 6 chapters focus on helping you read and write before you even start speaking any dialogue. This is only a drawback if your goal is to speak Hindi fast. If your goal is to get a grounding in Hindi for long-term success, this book focuses on what you need - grammar patterns, pronunciation rules, tenses, and nasalisations.
However, the authors ensure they keep the learning process fun by adding storytelling elements. You’ll learn through the eyes of the book’s characters, Deepak and Kavitha.
I could see this being an ideal choice for class-based learning. It’s also suitable for you to learn Hindi on your own but prefer learning as if you were in a class.
You receive free online audio to help build reading comprehension and correct pronunciation. I recommend you buy the Elementary Hindi Workbook (available separately). The workbook offers 10 activities per lesson with exercises to track your progress.
As this book focuses on academic Hindi, I also recommend you pair this up with a more colloquial or everyday Hindi learning portal. Ideas are another book, app_ (link to best apps to Lean Hindi article once published) or podcast (link to Best Podcasts to Learn Hindi article once published)_.
This is the most popular Hindi learning program utilising flashcards on Amazon, and it’s easy to see why.
You receive 300 flashcards with the most common Hindi words and phrases. Not only that, you get 1500 words and phrases as each card has one main word but then expands to 4 other related items. Additionally, the main and related 4 words or phrases are in English and Hindi (romanised).
You get a handy organiser ring which allows you to group cards and create smaller sets to carry with you. This is ideal for learning or refreshing your memory on the go or in particular situations. And you get a study guide with instructions on getting the most out of your flashcards and online audio to help with pronunciation.
There’s a reason why flashcards remain one of the most popular ways to learn a language, and that’s because they work. Use these cards to learn new words, and read and recognise Hindi.
The only drawback I found is the punch hole for each flashcard appears to be in the wrong place. Once added to the organiser ring, you have to read backwards, which felt awkward. However, this is easily rectified using a hole puncher to punch new holes in the opposite corner.
What are the best books for learning to read and write Hindi?
If writing Hindi is important, look at these textbooks.
Some of these books focus on helping you write Hindi, with less focus on comprehension.
Therefore I recommend pairing your choice with one of the books in the section above.
This is a really popular book, and I believe it’s because of how easy the author has made it for anyone to learn how to write Hindi.
It’s a step-by-step guide, allowing you to trace each item in the Hindi alphabet. Each Hindi letter is deconstructed into 3-7 steps, so you write fast and efficiently. The large print is ideal for children or those who struggle with small writing.
You also receive the phonics of each alphabet in English. This helps you understand the relationship between what you’re writing and pronunciation.
This would be an ideal book to pair with a book like Elementary Hindi.
This one has picked the 69 most common alphabet letters in the Hindi language. These make up the majority of the base vowel and consonants.
You get detailed instructions for stroke order and variations. This helps you understand the sound of each letter. The ‘trace and learn’ sections help imprint stroke technique into your brain. The letters are also large - ideal for recognising detailed Hindi letters.
What’s unique about this book is that it gives you common font variations. This allows you to recognise alternative styles for each letter. This is very handy if you plan on reading a lot of Hindi from different sources.
Also, each letter has a bonus page for handwriting practice. These pages have both background light grey letters to trace and without (for free-hand practice).
This is a more detailed workbook than the Trace and Write Hindi Alphabets book above. But I still recommend you pair this with a book from the 5 best books for learning to speak in Hindi section if you’re a complete beginner.
Written by the same author as Complete Hindi Beginner to Intermediate Course, this aims to be a clear, step-by-step system for writing Hindi.
This book does not allow you to trace letters. However, you’ll get many examples and real-life tests to show how the language works in different contexts to compensate. The author also adds quick tips that help with common problems. And you have regular tests to track your progress.
This detailed book goes further than other ‘learn to write’ books in this section regarding helping you speak Hindi. However, I do still recommend pairing it with one of the the other books I listed above.
This is another practice workbook to help you write the Hindi alphabet. Each page has a row of Hindi alphabet letters in grey, which are your guides. The remaining rows on each page have one letter, allowing you to practice writing each letter.
This book lacks advice on pen strokes to create each letter. The author also does not identify each letter. And there is no online audio to help with pronunciation.
These shortcomings are only problematic if you’re an absolute beginner. This is an ideal workbook if you’ve already grasped some basic Hindi language (spoken and written) and wish to perfect your writing skills.
More so than any other book in this section, I recommend you pair this with one of the books for learning to speak Hindi that I listed above. That is unless you’ve already moved beyond beginner level.
This book is unique because it teaches you how to write Hindi by introducing each letter in a different order than what’s usual in most books. By changing the order, the author has greatly reduced the confusion between similar letters.
The book also forces you (in a good way) to read lots of words, such as city names, so you become comfortable with the sound of each new letter you’ve learnt. You’ll find mnemonics that help you remember the shape of each letter, as well as audio files to help you pronounce letters and words.
I recommend this book if you’ve tried learning to write Hindi before and found yourself forgetting letters. The hacks revealed in this book work.
Learning Hindi fast
Incorporate these different books and other learning materials in your study.
For example, let’s say you want to learn Hindi fast for an upcoming trip to India. A great idea would be to pick a book that focuses on speaking (not writing) paired with flashcards with some Hindi words.
Don’t get bogged down with learning to write Hindi, but learn to speak and recognise basic words on billboards and road signs in India. This is very helpful for a traveller.
On the other hand, perhaps you wish to study Hindi professionally. You could choose a more academic book paired with a Hindi writing workbook. It may also be wise to add a Hindi course to learn colloquialisms, so your Hindi doesn’t sound too formal. Other ideas are adding Hindi podcasts or YouTube channels.
Let us know what combination has worked for you below.
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