Starting to learn nepali

I knew early in our relationship that I wanted to learn nepali. It’s important for me that we learn to speak each others language so we can communicate more easily, at least eventually. Right now it’s much easier to keep speaking english, even if we decide that we should avoid it as much as possible. So I decided to start the learning process in October 2010.

To start learning Nepali I bought some books:
Complete Nepali: teach yourself
Basic Nepali dictionary
A foundation in Nepali grammar
Mostly because it’s how I’m used to learning new things. That’s how it’s done when learning a new language in school.

The most useful book so far have been Complete Nepali, which I used quite a lot at first. It was a good start to learn the devanagari (their alphabet) and had good explanations on pronunciation rules. Some things would definitely need some more and longer explanations though, to really understand both how to do and why. For example when to use ho and cha.
I did start to learn the devanagari and completed about five chapters in the book. But when the chapters started to be in only devanagari and english (no roman transliteration) it suddenly got a lot harder even though I did recognise the script more or less. So I lost my motivation and took a break to focus on my other studies.

After spending a month in Nepal in the spring of 2011 I felt like I really needed to start learning the language again to be able to take part in the conversations and talk to my future family-in-law. I tried using flashcards on my computer but the problem was that I couldn’t find good cards and couldn’t write in devanagari. Those issues were solved when I got my iPad and found a great flashcards program from which I could find new flashcards. I tried learning devanagari and words in romanized transliterations at the same time to try to learn faster. It worked quite well at first but after a while I felt I needed to learn the words in devanagari from the beginning to get the pronunciation right from the beginning.

I found an article about learning new languages effectively that describes a method. It recommends to first learn the correct pronunciation, then learn grammar and vocabulary, after that listening, reading and writing and finally speaking. It gives some good suggestions that I will try to use in my learning.

Now I will try to learn the devanagari perfectly and make sure it sticks in my head this time. I have also started to make flashcards of the first 400 words that’s most common in a language. It might not be the most common words in Nepali but it’s a start at least. I’m also going to stop using English in my flashcards and use pictures instead as representation of the word. I’m trying to find a way to share my flashcards here on the blog but haven’t found a way to do that yet.

Hope this attempt will be more successful than my previous ones! 🙂


2 thoughts on “Starting to learn nepali

  1. I am trained in how to teach English as another language. I use the same principles I would use to teaching English to teach myself Nepali. There are two types of language, social and academic. Social is best learned first and spoken, academic is best learned second/slightly concurrent and written. I like to practice both. I find text messaging is a good way to practice transliteration and devanagari. I use an app to convert roman script to devanagari and then send messages to my Nepali friend. He often corrects me and I keep a running dictionary in my phone of correct spelling of anything I’ve ever texted. I use common phrases a lot, such as “what are you doing, where are we going, what are we eating, how are you, i am well…” in devanagari so that no i can recognize the words easily. Good luck. I agree with you that Complete Nepali is a good resource.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, it sounds like a good tips! I will definitely start messaging to practice, just need to get a smartphone first ;D I’ll try to practice on facebook until then I think.

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