Changing lyrics of popular film songs is a technique used to make Tamil learning easy among children of diaspora

‘Vaarayo Vennilavae...' goes the song from the old Tamil flick 'Misiamma.' But now while the visuals are the same, the lyrics have changed. The new song goes thus: ‘Paarayo En Thozhi Pavendar Bharathidasan Paadalai....'

Siva Pillai and his team at the Department of Education Studies, Goldsmiths University of London, have changed the lyrics, so that the visuals with the new lyrics can be played to the Tamil diaspora children to enable them learn the language.

Modern techniques

He was here at the Ninth Tamil Internet Conference on Saturday to share his experience on Tamil teaching using modern techniques.

Changing the lyrics of popular Tamil film songs is one of the techniques the team has used to make Tamil learning easy and interesting for the children.

“This is because the students get to learn Tamil only twice a week and during those hours, they should not feel that learning the language is a painful process. More so because they come from a different social climate,” he says.

After familiarising the students to lines in the lyrics, the teachers move onto words and then letters.

Mr. Pillai says teachers engage in similar exercises to improve the speaking, reading and writing abilities of students.

“This is one of the aims of the Government of England, which, to promote racial harmony, has mandated that non-English students between five and 11 years be taught English, their mother tongue and another language,” he points out.

There are 80 plus schools where Tamil is taught. In 2008-09, Mr. Pillai says, 1,500 students attempted the ‘Breakthrough' level test. There are three levels. The first is 'Breakthrough,' the second is ‘Preliminary' and the third is ‘Intermediate.'

Winner of European Award in 2007

He is a winner of the European Award for Language in 2007 and is in charge of ASSET Examination, conducted by Cambridge University.