Step 1: learning the primary forms

Sets of similar shapes

There is a rich set of characters in the Telugu alphabet – and some of them have a quite similar shape. The traditional way of learning the letters is to go over the vowels first, then consonants, then moving on to their combinations. The drawback of this sequence is that there are similar shapes in vowels and consonants hat have a quite different sound which is confusing when learned separate.

We will adopt a slightly different approach here: we will learn them in groups of similar shape. This makes sense because as you already have an overview of all the vowels, consonants and how they combine (see introduction), and we can now focus on just that connection between symbol and sound.

Here is a list of the sets we will use:

Sets of similar shape

The last set, set 9, has all the shapes in it that do not fit in any other group so that set consists of somewhat unique forms.


Bringing your ideas into form

Coming back to the idea of finding images or stories for each letter: I have prepared some "cheat sheets" for each set of letters to help you to bring these images or stories into form. See this cheat sheet for set 1 for example.

On the left side of the table you find the letters. Use them as a base for your drawings. On the right side is space for some notes or reminders. Please use color pens, stickers, what ever you like to express your thoughts.

Here are some examples of how this may look like. Let us take the letter of A for example. For me it looks like the face of a frog. And this frog is saying "quaaak".

example 2

Or in the letter of ta I see a worm. This time I give it a trumpet, with a loud sound of "taaaa".

example 3

Do you see how this works? Please take your time to prepare your own images. It may take a while until you feel comfortable with the images you come up with but that is fine.

You may ask: "Hey, Tom, that sounds like too much work. I like your images, why don't you give me a list of prepared images and I will go over them. This saves me a lot of time." The answer is: That would be MY list – thus the bridges based on what I already know. You have to build on what YOU already know. Chances are that my experiences, what I have lived in all my years, all the feelings, anger, fear, disappointment, frustration, fun, success, love... are not the same as yours, right? So you have to go over the list and feel what is there within you and build upon that.


Writing the letters

Depending on your personal preferences you may want to start writing the letters very soon. This is an important step for learning the forms. To support this step I offer a complete set of practice sheets and little movies for each letter, that show how the lines are drawn. Here is how this looks like for the letter of la. Please click on the symbol to see how it is drawn.

Symbol   Example
la la

Lesson 1, Exercise 8:

Lalita plilcindi

There is also an exercise sheet available to practice these letters. You find them in the attachment area of each set. Please download and print these files as often as you want.

practice sheet



You probably want to know how much to learn at the time? Well, this depends on your time... You can learn several sets at a once or just a view letters – both is fine. Just keep playing and listen to your feelings.

Ready to try? Let's start with Set 1...