Used in a whole range of different religions, yoga, meditative practices, and more, Sanskrit, despite being considered a “dead language” like Latin or Ancient Greek, is now experiencing a resurgence. So, what apps can you use to learn Sanskrit? Let’s dive in and find out!
The 5 Best Apps to Learn Sanskrit
With Sanskrit tutors being few and far between, your best bet for learning this beautiful and ancient language is by using a combination of apps. With Duolingo dropping the ball, here are some language learning alternatives to get you started.
Filled with flashcards, Sanskrit language media, and quizzes, Memrise is a hive of knowledge. It’s worth mentioning that Memrise isn’t specifically a language learning app, it’s more of a revision app, so you can find resources for pretty much every school subject on there.
All the resources are also user-made or generated so there’s no specific course to follow. You simply pick up bits and pieces as you go, but it’s a good place to start to get a handle on vocabulary and pronunciation in a fun, gamified way.
Although native tutors may be hard to find for in-person Sanskrit lessons, iTalki is a platform and app that connects language tutors with learners from all around the world. Here, you can read the tutor’s profiles, see past reviews, and find a tutor in your price range.
Once you’ve selected your tutor and set up a time, you can have one-on-one language lessons over video chat.
Your tutor can monitor your progress and correct you in real time, and you get to benefit from learning from a native tutor without having to travel halfway around the world. It’s an ideal combination!
If you’re looking for a beautifully designed and easy-to-use app to get you started on your Sanskrit journey, Drops is going to tick all your boxes. Primarily a vocabulary tool, Drops allows you to learn thousands of Sanskrit words and phrases in manageable five-minute lessons.
Match up Sanskrit words and phrases, test your memory, and continue to level up over time. Soon you’ll have a full library of Sanskrit words that you can understand, pronounce, and use.
Although there aren’t a ton of grammatical lessons on the Drops platform, you can easily use this app to supplement your learning while you’re on the go.
4. Liberation Philology Sanskrit
If you’re looking for a complete and well-rounded Sanskrit course, then look no further than Liberation Philology Sanskrit. This immersive and intuitive course has 320 language lessons for you to work from, ranging from complete beginner all the way up, leaving plenty of room for progression.
Learn all about Sanskrit vocabulary and grammatical structures on your phone wherever you are, since they have an app for both iPhones and Androids.
One of the best things about Liberation Philology Sanskrit is that it doesn’t require WiFi to work, so if you’re traveling or learning Sanskrit on your commute, you don’t need to worry about signal.
5. Bluebird Languages
Another great combination Sanskrit course is on Bluebird Languages. Here, you’ll find a mix of quizzes, flashcards, and audio-based conversation lessons to choose from. This helps you to improve all four of your language learning skills in one neat little package.
The lessons range from 15-45 minutes, so it’s one of the most comprehensive language-learning apps out there. It features over 2000 popular words and phrases in Sanskrit, giving you a solid base to learn from.
That being said, some native speakers have said that the definitions and pronunciations of some of the words and phrases aren’t quite right, so perhaps use Bluebird Languages alongside another Sanskrit learning tool.
What is Sanskrit?
Simple Sanskrit is a language that has its roots in Southern Asia, first being recognized around 1500 BC. This makes it one of the oldest languages in the entire world, older than Greek, Hebrew, or Chinese by a good couple of centuries.
In fact, it’s considered the Mother of All Languages, with hundreds of languages being influenced or stemming from Sanskrit. As the starting point for more Indo-European languages like French, German, Welsh, Latvian, and for Indo-Aryan languages like Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, and more, the influence of Sanskrit is outstanding.
It did fall out of favor in the Medieval period when it wasn’t really being used to share new knowledge – by that point, a lot of Sanskrit texts on wisdom, philosophy, and religion had already been written and shared far and wide. However, it is still being used today.
Where is Sanskrit Used?
Today Sanskrit is still spoken by around two million people across India, so it’s still a fairly popular language in the grand scheme of things. It’s also the main language in the classical study of Hinduism as well as being featured in historical texts pertaining to Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
Outside of religion and spirituality, Sanskrit can be heard in yoga studios all around the world. If you’ve ever taken a class, then chances are that you probably already know a few words or phrases in Sanskrit.
As yoga is an ancient practice for connecting the mind and body, with its roots firmly in Indian culture, it’s no wonder that there’s a considerable lasting crossover here.
Why Should I Learn Sanskrit?
There are a couple of reasons why you probably should learn Sanskrit. As the Mother of All Languages, it might help you understand other languages or enable you to learn other branches of the language easier.
Much like if you learn Latin before learning French, Spanish, Italian, or Romanian, it’ll help you see patterns and make the process of learning new languages smoother.
Another reason is if you’re wanting to deepen your religious practice and read sacred texts in the original Sanskrit. Often translations leave room for interpretation and errors, so the original version may offer more insight and opportunities for connecting with your faith.
Finally, if you’re looking to deepen your yoga practice or become a yoga teacher, understanding basic Sanskrit will help you to understand the flow and purpose behind the different flows and forms. This can help improve your practice and make that all-important mind-body connection.
Is Sanskrit Difficult to Learn?
Due to its tricky grammar, Sanskrit is considered pretty difficult to learn. It might be why it’s fallen out of favor and why many apps haven’t developed a Sanskrit course. There’s also the issue that there are fewer and fewer Sanskrit tutors out there now. With fewer people speaking Sanskrit, there are fewer people with the ability to break down the language into learnable, manageable chunks.
Is Sanskrit on Duolingo?
Duolingo is one of the most popular ways to learn languages nowadays. The trusty owl keeps us on our toes and ensures that we get our daily practice in, no matter where we are. So, it’s safe to assume that the Mother of All Languages is on the Duolingo app, right? Well, no, Sanskrit is not currently on Duolingo and there aren’t any plans to add it to their vast library of courses.
It might be that Duolingo’s simple approach to vocabulary and grammar might not work so well for Sanskrit’s complex form, but there are plenty of difficult and technical languages on the platform.
Again, it might be because no that many people still speak the language so they believe the demand isn’t there. That being said, Duolingo went to the effort of making fictional language courses, like Klingon, so that doesn’t seem like much of an excuse either.
What’s the Best Way to Learn Sanskrit?
The best way to learn Sanskrit is probably by taking a combination approach. While everyone learns differently, especially when it comes to languages, it’s important to take a holistic approach that includes all four of the key language skills. That’s reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Opting to only learn one or two of these skills is going to be really limiting, and honestly, without a tutor, it’s difficult to hit all four with one learning method. Books are great for reading and writing, but your pronunciation may not be great.
If you just use podcasts or video clips, the opposite might happen. So, overall a tutor is going to be the best way to learn Sanskrit alongside private study of books and mixed media.
Time to Start Learning Sanskrit!
So, to wrap this all up in a nice neat bow, there are quite a few apps that you can use to learn Sanskrit. It’s a beautiful and complex language that is vitally important to the history, culture, and religion of a lot of people.
Sanskrit is a language that demands respect, and the more people who learn it, the more apps and platforms will add it to their learning roster – we’re looking at you Duolingo! If you’re looking for the best app to use, I’d suggest iTalki combined with Liberation Philology Sanskrit.
This way you get the conversational skills alongside the more structured, traditional grammar and vocabulary-focused lessons. It’s the perfect pairing!
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Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.