As the main language of India, Hindi is becoming increasingly popular. You can learn Hindi in language courses or with a private tutor, but it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated and learn your grammar and sentence structure outside of class.
This is where Hindi games and quizzes come into play. They offer an interactive environment to help stimulate your learning. Even though you’re doing much the same thing - learning Hindi vocabulary and grammar - but the fact that you are interacting with something (whether in a board game on an app on a website that lets your learn Hindi online) makes it more interesting and tricks your brain by giving your knowledge a practical application - even if it only getting more points.
Here are some fun games you can make yourself or play online to help you learn this fascinating Indo-European language.
Learning the Hindi Alphabet Through Games
The Devanagari alphabet used to write Hindi is especially difficult for Europeans to learn because it functions on a different principle than ours. Whereas we generally use a single letter for one sound, whether it is a vowel or a consonant, the Hindi script centres around consonants. Vowel sounds following a consonant are indicated with a modification to the basic letter rather than writing a separate vowel letter behind it.
Full-letter vowels are only used if they appear alone or at the beginning of a word.
Mostly, the games for learning the Hindi alphabet are for kids, aimed at preschoolers and kindergarten children who want to learn to read. However, due to the difficulties of Hindi letters, you shouldn’t write them off as a good means to practise the Hindi alphabet, even as an adult.
Remember, you are starting at the beginning, just like a toddler is!
Hindi online games for learning the alphabet
- Digital Dialects has a wonderful game for learning Hindi letters. You start with a screen where you can hear each letter pronounced. In the game, you will listen to an audio recording and click on the letter that corresponds to the sound.
This is excellent because it also teaches you to listen to the sounds of Hindi, as well as proper pronunciation so that you aren’t equating Devanagari letters with Latin ones or speaking them yourself with your (as yet) imperfect accent.
- Hindi Bubbles is a bubble game app to help you learn the alphabet by forming simple Hindi words that let you pop bubbles. A variation is Hindi Bubble Bath Lite, available through Amazon.
Some people learn best with pictures, others with audio input (and output). Remember how you could recite nursery rhymes and theme songs but could never remember the date of the battle of Hastings? (It’s 1066.) If so, this Hindi singalong songbook to learn the alphabet is just the right thing for you.
You want more than an app? Google "Hindi classes London" to get a private tutor in the capital.
DIY educational games to learn the Hindi script
Devanagari memory game
Take index cards and square them off, or else use craft memory cards. Start making pairs: the Devanagari letter on one index card and the transliteration on the other, then mix them up and set them face down in front of you. Uncover two of the cards. If it’s a match, take them out of the game. If it’s not, turn them back face down and try to find a match for one of the two cards in the next round.
Start with the individual consonants and vowels, then expand by using the modifiers for each of the Hindi consonants.
The Sound Game
You will be making three sets of cards (use different-coloured index cards so you can sort them back easily).
- On one, you will be writing the consonants
- on the other the vowels
- on the third colour all the modified forms of each of the consonants.
Each player takes five cards from the consonant set.
All the vowels and ten modified consonants are placed face up on the table.
You have to try and “form” the modified consonants on the table by matching one of your consonants to a vowel.
The vowel is then set aside and you keep the modified consonant card. Once all the vowels have been used, you discard your remaining consonant cards and take five more, and the vowels are put back into play. You play until there are no more consonant cards in the deck.
The player with the most modified consonant cards wins.
Learning Hindi Vocabulary with Games and Activities
Once you have mastered the alphabet, you are ready to learn Hindi words and phrases. Simply learning a section of your English-Hindi dictionary is boring and not very helpful.
More useful are flashcards, in which you write the Hindi words on one side of an index card and the English words on the other. Don’t forget to learn modifiers such as plurals or verb tenses!
Online learning games and quizzes for Hindi vocabulary
Many online Hindi course and educational games function on a similar principle: matching English words to their Hindi translation and vice-versa. Here are a few websites with this sort of game:
- Softschools has several games in which you need to match English and Hindi words.
- In this online game by Digital Dialects, you need to choose from a list the right translation for a Hindi word.
- For visual learners, MyLanguages offers a vocabulary game for kids in which you are offered an image of an object and need to type the Hindi word using the selection of letters provided. It is good for advanced beginners, as it isn’t a simple multiple choice but still guides you by limiting the number of letters. Having an image instead of an English word is good for fostering word association rather than translation.
- Kidsone has several learning activities centred around different vocabulary subjects (such as numbers, plants, time, days of the week, transportation etc.) to learn common words in Hindi.
Need more help? Take some Hindi lessons.
Physical vocabulary games to buy (if you want)
A teaching resource designed for classrooms, Hindi bingo offers cards with scenes on them. Each student writes down five objects or actions from the picture, then the teacher reads the vocabulary they want to focus on out loud. The first student to have all their words mentioned by the teacher wins. You can play it in small groups, too.
These interactive learning games are the old DVD-based kind. There are several different themes, including numbers and colours.
DIY Vocabulary games
The memory game can be adapted for vocabulary - and if you like, you can replace pictures for the English translations. At some point, though, the amount of vocabulary becomes too great, so it’s mostly for beginners.
However, there are many other games and activities to help you with your Hindi vocabulary. For example, why not do Hindi charades or Hindi Pictionary? It’s challenging both for the group having to enact or draw, as they need to know the Hindi word corresponding to the English prompt, and of course, the guessing team will have to guess in Hindi, too (and as a bonus, write the word down in Devanagari to practise spelling). Be sure to keep a Hindi dictionary at hand to avoid discussions!
A variation would be to take images from Hindi or old Sanskrit manuscripts and trying to describe them in Hindi - without using certain common words!
Advanced students might want to invest in a Hindi scrabble board or do Hindi crossword puzzles to help expand their vocabulary, as an app or online.
Educational Games for Learning Hindi Grammar
Here is where it gets a bit thin. I could not find any Hindi-language educational games for kids or adults that focused on grammar.
However, Hindi Bolo Blog has a series of exercise sheets on various points of Hindi grammar as well as fun videos such as learning Hindi through Bollywood movie songs!
Here are a few DIY ideas for you to try out:
Verb tense hot potato
You can play verb tense hot potato. You need some friends and a ball (or stuffed animal).
The youngest chooses a verb and says its form in the first person singular present tense, then passes the ball to the person on their left, who has to say the second person singular present tense, and so on.
After the present tense, go on to the
- present continuous
- present perfect
- simple past
- past continuous
- past perfect
- past imperfect
- future simple
- future continuous.
You keep on going until all the tenses are done or someone makes a mistake.
If you make a mistake or have the animal in your hand for more than 5 seconds, you can’t pass on the animal and are left with the “hot potato”. That person chooses the next verb, which starts in the future tense and goes backwards through the tenses.
Word order dash.
Copy or print a page from a Hindi book or article (a children’s book for beginners, adult novels or articles for intermediate or advanced) twice.
Cut out the same sentence in both copies and cut out each word (leave definite articles and possessive attached to the noun for clarity).
You have two teams. Each team gets the words for the sentence, then a bell is rung.
The first team to put the words in the right order wins.
If you are alone, you can do this without the competition to practise sentence structure - you can check your sentence against the original when you’re done.
Board Games to Learn the Hindi Language
There aren’t many real-life language learning games for Hindi out there. Two of them, focusing mostly on vocabulary, are out of stock at the time of writing (August 2018):
- Outbox Edutainment Hindi board game, where you have to make as many words as possible until the time runs out.
Here are two do-it-yourself board games for learning Hindi instead:
- Masala Mommas has two printable board games for learning adjectives and verbs and how to say simple Hindi phrases, which you can modify at will.
- Create words from vocabulary sets with this DIY board game.
Need new ideas for games to learn to speak the Hindi language? A Superprof Hindi tutor might help you!