Do you want to discover how hard it is to learn Malayalam because you’ve been thinking about studying it? Let’s figure it out together!
Malayalam is a fascinating and complex language spoken by over 38 million people in the southern Indian state of Kerala and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Despite not being the most spoken language in India due to its relatively small geographical spread, this south Indian language has a rich literary tradition and is considered one of the 22 official languages of India.
Learning a new language can be challenging, and learning Malayalam is no exception. However, there are many reasons why it is important. For one, it is a gateway to understanding the culture and history of Kerala, a state known for its rich tradition of art, music, dance, and cuisine. Additionally, the Malayalam language is widely spoken in the Gulf countries, where a large number of Indians work.
Knowing the language can therefore be an advantage for those seeking employment or doing business in these countries. Lastly, you’ll be able to speak and interact with 39 million more people (that’s 3x more than the entire population of my home country, for example!).
I personally have already been in contact with this language on my first trip to India. When I first went there, I had the wrong notion that Malayalam was no more than a dialect spoken by a few people. However, on a single day, I could meet two people who spoke Malayalam!
The first was a street vendor with who I tried to communicate with a few words I knew in Hindi. He just smiled and replied in perfect Malayalam (with my research, I was able to identify the language), leaving me flabbergasted. Later that day, I met a taxi driver who once again used Malayalam to talk on the phone with who I suppose was his wife! It was a humbling experience, and it made me believe that this was a powerful language in India and that it was definitely worth learning!
But how much do you have to put in to learn Malayalam?
How Hard Is It To Learn Malayalam?
As a language spoken by over 38 million people in India, Malayalam presents a unique set of challenges for those who wish to learn it. We already said it could be challenging, but why is that?
In this chapter, we will explore some of the characteristics of the language that make it both difficult and easy to learn.
One of the most challenging aspects of Malayalam is its script. The language uses an abugida, which is a type of writing system in which each consonant has an inherent vowel sound. This means that the letters are not always pronounced the same way, making it difficult for non-native speakers to master the language. It is very different from Western languages, so it is an added difficulty for people who speak these languages to learn Malayalam.
Additionally, the Malayalam script has a number of complex conjuncts and diacritical marks, which can be difficult to memorize.
Another challenge of Malayalam is its complex grammatical structure. The language has a rich system of inflections, which can make it difficult for learners to understand the different forms of words and constructions.
To increase the language’s difficulty even more, Malayalam has many loanwords from other languages, such as Tamil, Sanskrit, and English. Imagine having a fluid and quick conversation using 4 different languages. That’s hard, right? Well, Malayalam can be like this sometimes!
Because Malayalam is not a very widespread language across the globe, people are not often exposed to this language, making it completely new if they decide to learn it.
This fact also makes this language hard to learn due to the lack of information and learning resources online.
One of the best sources of information about Malayalam is actually Ling’s blog, where we talk about several topics regarding this language that could help spark your interest in it. We discuss topics such as greetings in Malayalam, useful travel phrases if you’re heading to India, or even how to wish a happy birthday to your friend in Malayalam.
But Not Everything Is Hard!
Don’t think that this is the hardest language to learn in the world because it is not! Some aspects of Malayalam make it relatively easy to learn and can score some points towards you learning it. For example, Malayalam is a highly phonetic language, meaning words are pronounced as they are written. This can make it easier for learners to understand spoken Malayalam.
Additionally, the language has a relatively simple word order. It is written as it is said, and sentence structure is usually simple and always the same, so once you’ve figured out how to say some words, you can easily start building sentences!
How Long Does It Take To Learn Malayalam?
Now you might be wondering how long it will take to learn Malayalam. According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Malayalam is considered a Category IV language, meaning it is somewhat difficult for English speakers to learn. The FSI estimates that it takes around 2200 hours of practice to achieve proficiency in a Category IV language, so it will take you around 2 years to achieve full proficiency. However, it should be noted that to be able to have a conversation and get understood will take you a lot less time than that. Nevertheless, I leave you with the idea that being fluent will take some time for you.
Besides all this, I will be very straightforward with you: it all depends on how much effort you put into it. It’ll take a long time if you only try to learn Malayalam by going to a class once a week and not practicing it at home. Just watching Malayalam movies will not be enough!
But if you find the right tools and practice regularly, you’ll become fluent much faster!
Where To Start? Useful Words In Malayalam
To help you kick off this language-learning journey, why not start right here right now by learning your first Malayalam words? Take a look below and learn your very first Malayalam terms:
- ഹായ് (hāy) – Hello
- നന്ദി (nandi) – Thank you
- നിനക്ക് സ്വാഗതം (ninakk svāgataṁ) – You’re welcome
- പേര് (pēr) – Name
- കുളിമുറി (kuḷimuṟi) – Bathroom
- ഭക്ഷണം (bhakṣaṇam) – Food
- പാനീയം (pānīyaṁ) – Drink
- വിട (viṭa) – Goodbye
If you want to learn more useful words in Malayalam, feel free to head to our blog and explore it!
Pump Up Your Malayalam With Ling App
Ok, you have reached this far; you deserve a gift! (Wrapping paper flying everywhere) It’s the Ling app!
With this application, you have everything you might need to learn Malayalam. I’m talking about learning a new language through easy and engaging methods, using games, puzzles, and quizzes. Sounds fun right?
The fun doesn’t end here! We also have an AI Chatbot with which you can interact and practice what you’ve learned in every new lesson!
Don’t waste more time and take a step further toward learning this interesting language (or other Indian languages, by the way)! Download the Ling App, and let’s start the fun!