About 52 million people worldwide speak the Tamil language. Tamil is the primary language of Tamil Nadu, a state in the nation of India. Tamil is based in phonics when written and read aloud, so learning to speak Tamil through English first will help you to learn how to read and write it later on. Learn to speak some basic Tamil from English online at first, for free; then consider investing in Tamil language books, discs and tutorials later on -- Tamil language learning is challenging, but the process is interesting and rewarding.
Learn Tamil Online
Practice Basic Words
Copy and paste these basic Tamil words on a Notepad document, the way that they appear below:
Tamil Nadu = (The Tamil country language)
Yes = Amma No = Illai
Hello = VaNakkam (vanakkum) See you later = Paakalaam (puckahllum) Thank you = Nandri (nandree)
Water = Thanni Food = Saapadu
Time = maNi
Today = Innaikku Tomorrow = Naalaikku Yesterday = Nethu Every day = Dinamum (sounds like: dinamoom or dinnum) Sun = Sooriyan Moon = Nila
What = Yennu
Two = Rendu Twenty = Irvadhu
Listen to Tamil Speaking Natives
Listen to the various words spoken by native Tamil speakers by visiting the links provided in the references section. While you are listening to the spoken language, try to identify the Tamil words from the list on your Notepad document.
Note Rhythms of Tamil
Make mental note of the tone and rhythm of the speech in the recordings. Spoken Tamil sounds somewhat like verbal music. Try to recognize various components of the Tamil language by the sound of Tamil spoken by native speakers. Let your ears get comfortable with listening to spoken Tamil by recognizing various mixtures of other languages within the Tamil language, such as hints of French, Arabic, and Khoisan. If you have some experience speaking foreign languages, you have an advantage to correctly pronounce some Tamil words and phrases.
Listen to Conversations in Tamil
Listen to the video and spoken Tamil-to-English conversations again. Repeat the spoken Tamil words out loud as closely as possible to the way the native Tamil speaker is pronouncing the words. Make notes on the Notepad document as to how the spoken Tamil words sound to you, in English. This will help you to remember how to pronounce the Tamil words. (Don’t be concerned with spelling at this time.) Use mental tricks to associate the Tamil words with English words or phrases. For example, the Tamil word “MaNi” means "time." The word “MaNi” sounds almost like the word “money” in English. This reference to the phrase “Money is time” or “Time is money” is a mental trick that can help you remember that Tamil word later on.
Study Tamil Grammar
Study how sentences are formed and where words are used. When learning time and number systems in Tamil, you may notice a similarity to how time and numbers are spoken or thought of in other languages, such as German. They are not spoken or thought of in the same order that English number systems are. In English, when we want to say the number “twenty-two,” first “twenty” is designated, then “two.” In Tamil, it is the other way around. “Rendu Iruvadhu” means, literally translated, “two twenty,” or “two plus twenty.” This is also how Tamil phrases are basically formed. In order to ask the question, “What’s the time?” in Tamil, you would put the word for “what” first: “Yennu” and then the word for “time” after that, “MaNi.” “Yennu MaNi?” literally means “What time?” Don't concern yourself yet with the interjection of the verb “is” or the proper placement of it in a spoken Tamil phrase. Concentrate on more specific and precise conversationally specific formalities later, after you have achieved a more advanced level of learning how to speak Tamil from English. You can now use the same word structure to ask “Where’s water?” in Tamil, and “Where’s food?”
Study Tamil Vocabulary
Write down the following words on your Notepad document:
Medicine = Doctor = Bathroom / toilet = Telephone = Help = Me = I = You = How = Who = Why = Stop = Go = Sorry = Wash =
Look up the Tamil words for those words using the online dictionary in the References section. Practice using those words in basic two-word phrases, repeatedly.
Write down additional words that you think of that may be useful for you to know how to pronounce in Tamil on the Notepad document. Continue listening to and searching for additional online free conversational Tamil lessons. Attempt to learn Tamil writing and reading after you have grasped some basic conversational Tamil from English. Listen to some Tamil music or watch some Tamil movies.
Don’t be afraid to write down Tamil words phonetically from the dictionary, and then attempt to speak them. If you are too afraid to speak Tamil out loud, this fear will prohibit you learning how to speak Tamil from English.
Mike Marcoe is a writer/editor with more than 19 years of experience. His clients have included the Educated Investor, the University of Wisconsin, New York Life, the "Encyclopedia of Personal Finance," "Your Retirement Watch" and "The Internet Review of Books." He works as the content manager for a financial education software firm and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Wisconsin.