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NEEDLE IN THE HAYSTACK? FINDING MATERIALS TO LEARN INDIAN LANGUAGES
1. My Desire to Learn an Indian LanguageOriginally from France, my studies and profession led me to study and work in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, for some time. On that occasion, I discovered Tamil language. My love for it as well as my wish to speak with Tamilian people in their own language, kindled in me a desire to learn Tamil. I wanted to appreciate Tamil culture and life better by reading Tamil newspapers and Tamil litterature in their original language. So I tried to learn Tamil.
2. Focus On Self-Study
No classes for Tamil are available where I live, and I knew that the only solution for me would be self-study.
3. My Initial Shock!I had no knowledge of Tamil when I first arrived in Chennai. This may sound stupid to Tamilians, but I was not aware of the important difference between colloquial and written Tamil! I thus did not pay attention to this when I first picked up in France a Tamil textbook that appeared good to me and started to study from it...
4. The Deep Silence!It is only when I tried out in Chennai what I had learned from it that I discovered how the Tamil that I had studied up to now was pure formal Tamil, and not the colloquial form of the language used in daily life... Nowhere was this mentioned in my textbook, though. The Tamil that I had been learning was presented as the sole and unique form of the language, adequate for all circumstances!
5. Colloquial or Written?
I did not give up on learning formal Tamil, because I wished to study the formal form of the language, too. When I tried to find out other materials, this time for learning the colloquial form of the language, I ran into lots of difficulties. Getting a book to learn the colloquial form of Tamil happened to be very difficult. Nearly all the books that I could find, both in France and in India, were dedicated to formal Tamil only.
6. Long Search and Long Wait!
Without exaggeration, it is only after two years of looking around on the internet, and in libraries in France and in India, that I was able to find and get two excellent textbooks dedicated to colloquial Tamil - but even getting them after having located them was not that easy, it was difficult to order them, etc.
Today, I have, at last, plenty of good teaching materials for me to learn Tamil in both its written and colloquial forms, and I am enjoying every minute that I spend learning that most rich and beautiful language.
7. Make the Indian Language Learning Materials More Easily Available!
However, I really wanted to point out how I feel that making learning materials for Tamil (especially colloquial) readily available is something very important.
Diffusing a language and promoting it also means giving the chance to those wishing to learn and study it to easily do so.
In comparison, I must say that finding teaching material for Hindi, for example, is much easier - I have also started to study that language. Good teaching materials, both in France and in India, are always readily available. As regards Tamil, and perhaps for other major Indian languages as well, classes are far from being available everywhere in the world. In France, apart from one specific school in Paris, Tamil teaching is nowhere available. So, good and reliable printed and recorded teaching materials in the form of books, textbooks, and tapes are very important. The good news is that such materials do exist in some languages such as Tamil, and I finally was able to get these. The materials should just be diffused more widely.
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