Matthew Chang is Chinese-American youngster who has very successfully learned Marathi language.
His success is praise worthy considering – he has no Marathi or even Indian family background, he is very far from Marathi land, there are not many people around him to talk Marathi, limited online resources available (e.g. dictionaries and auto-translation), it was not academic/ business necessity !!
Credit goes to his self-study, perseverance and zeal to learn every minute grammatical details. I am happy that I could help him a little through my blog. I had asked him to write a testimonial about my blog and he is generous to write a very detailed testimonial. I have mentioned excerpts in testimonial page but it is worth sharing in full. Testimonial will also guide new learners.
Watch Mathew speak Marathi
Testimonial from Matthew Chang :-
When I was learning French in school, I sometimes complained about the language’s difficulty, but if you think about it, help is literally at the fingertips of the French student. At least in America, countless institutions offer French as a foreign language option, and one can easily find “101 French Verbs” and French-English dictionaries at the local bookstore. Forget Rosetta Stone; french.about.com and Word Reference are completely free online resources for learning French.
The Marathi learner, on the other hand, is not so lucky. As I see it, learners of Indian languages face a new level of difficulty. There’s little foreign demand for learning Indian languages, and consequently there’s a lack of resources. There are some books, but in my experience, many books ultimately do a haphazard job in explaining the language’s structure. In this context of poor quantity and quality, Mr. Lele’s blog is an anomaly: an extremely detailed, precise, and resourceful guide for learning a beautiful language which is not so often studied by foreigners. Here are my top reasons why:
Some people don’t like it, but unless you have consistent exposure that allows you to eventually “pick up” the details, you have to learn grammar. As Kaushik says, “many language learning programs shower the student with list of full sentences. This looks good first, but it does not teach how to prepare sentence. So thou you know 100 sentences, you are helpless to create 101st sentence yourself.” Most of the pages on the blog are actually more like excerpts from a grammar book. Marathi noun declension, verb conjugation, and sentence structure are elucidated in meticulous detail, and numerous example sentences are given. Tables are provided when needed. Yet, the prose is not so technical as to completely stump those who are not grammar buffs and linguistics majors.
2. Script and Transliteration
Reading the language is just as important as speaking. A tutorial on the Devanagari script is provided as one of the very first lessons. Some people think that writing Indian languages in Roman script has become more fashionable. Perhaps. I follow Loksatta on Facebook, and I see people typing comments in देवनागरी all the time. But even if you aren’t comfortable with the script, Kaushik provides English transliterations (eg. “mI tujhyAvar prem karato”) on almost every page.
Perhaps the primary reason for choosing the blog over a physical book: I get practice listening to Marathi. Kaushik actually records himself speaking the sentences in nearly every lesson. The videos are publicly available on YouTube.
4. Conversations, Culture, and Colloquialisms
Simple conversations on an array of everyday situations are provided. Furthermore, such conversations are not created in a cultural void; they are created in the context of daily life in Maharashtra. This means including auto rickshaws, police officers, and software engineers. Cultural references are also explained when appropriate. Formal Marathi is also different from colloquial Marathi, and such differences are delineated even at the grammatical level when appropriate. I like how Kaushik included a list of exclamations including छे and अरे बापरे!
5. Learn Marathi through Hindi
It simply makes more sense to learn a language from a sister language. In many places, the Learn Marathi through Hindi blog presents Marathi words and sentences side by side with their Hindi equivalents. Interestingly, I have a Marathi friend who is learning Hindi. He used the blog in reverse; he learned Hindi through Marathi by comparing the sentences in the Learn Marathi through Hindi blog. That reminds me. In reality most learners of Marathi are not going to be Americans and Brits but other Indians. Time and again, Maharashtrian politicians have insisted that migrants from the Hindi belt learn the local language. In theory, if provided with this blog as a resource for learning, Hindi speakers can learn a foreign language through their mother tongue rather than through another foreign language.
6. Other Resources
It doesn’t just stop with the blog. Kaushik is also there to help! In my experience, Kaushik has been very willing to answer questions and explain when someone is confused. The blog is an ongoing project, and Kaushik has created and revised some parts of the blog as a result of my questions. Furthermore, there’s a Facebook blog (with Kaushik as the admin) for learning Marathi! Ask and you shall receive.
I’ll be honest. I’ve been learning Hindi for several years now, and at some point I decided to start on another Indian language. I wanted to learn Punjabi, but I was dismayed at the lack of resources and the quality of the few resources I found. I stumbled across Kaushik Lele’s blog and started to read it. I’ve stuck with Marathi ever since. For me, the presence of quality resources in language learning makes all the difference.