What do you find attractive about teaching other people your native language?
That’s a very interesting question. I find that people are from different backgrounds, they are interested in my language as well as the culture. It gives me pleasure to let them know about my culture and my language; when I am speaking Hindi and teaching it makes me very happy, as I was born and brought up in Delhi. So I guess that basically it gives me pleasure, to say my native things to other people.
Is that why you like teaching with us?
Yeah, that’s the main reason, I like to speak Hindi with others and the Indian culture is
one of the oldest in the world and I’m proud of that. It’s also very good that people are interested in it, so I’m keen to share it.
Do you have any tips for people learning Hindi?
The most important thing (like most languages) is to practise. They can practise at home, and nowadays there are many people who learn Hindi from Bollywood; because it’s such a famous industry around the world now. People love the Bollywood music and songs and dialogue so watching those movies is very good – I have heard from some people that they have learned basic Hindi just from watching the movies!
Do you ever get people coming in who love Bollywood but might want or need some help with the language?
Yes yes yes! Last year, there were quite a few people who love Bollywood music and the songs, sometimes they will bring in a song and want to know the meaning of the words, so they’re very interested.
And then I suppose the flip side of that, is do you recommend that your students go out and immerse themselves in as much Hindi culture as they can, so that they get an ear for it?
Certainly, it’s a great way for people to build their confidence and I encourage my students to get out to all of the relevant cultural events. Not long ago the community had the Holi festival, just throwing colours to each other you know – it’s an expression of friendship and love.
Do you find that most people take it up because they’re planning a trip to India?
Sure, sure. We have people who learn Hindi for other reasons, though. In the last class I taught, we had about 15 people, and out of that number nearly half were planning to marry someone from a Hindi-speaking background. Some people are posted to Delhi with their work, and some do travel.
If someone were taking your course with a view to travel to India, where would you tell them to go first?
See I would tell people to go to Delhi first, not just because it’s the capital but because it has such a mixture of cultures and languages. Hindi is the main language there and there are many historical places to visit, so most people will go to Delhi and then go around the region to places that interest them.
Where’s your favourite place?
My favourite is Delhi! I lived there for a long time before I came here (ten years) so there are many things I like to do there. Everyone should try it.