Here some students from Namakkal and Krishnagiri districts speak about the language problem and other aspects of studying in college to Shubashree Desikan.

Even about ten years ago, only big cities had many colleges, and people from other districts would have to shift to those cities and stay in hostels to study. That is not the case now, as many colleges have been established in smaller towns in the districts. But what are the main difficulties faced by students studying in these colleges?

Denis Tinu, Third year, ECE, Excel College of Engineering Technology, Pallakkapalayam, Namakkal district

English was a major obstacle for me. I studied in a government school where the staff never encouraged me to speak English. The first year was very difficult. In fact, students who come from the villages cannot even write four sentences in English. We spoke to the head of the department to ask the teachers to speak in Tamil. We used to make mistakes. Those who knew English would make fun of us. It was only determination that made us succeed. We learnt English from the Internet – the website engVid (www.engvid.com) has many videos from which we learnt to speak English and pronounce words. We then taught the students from the villages. Many students have arrears in the first year; this is due to not knowing English.

Malarkodi, B.A. English Literature, Government Arts College, Krishnagiri

I studied in the Government Girls School where the standard of English was mediocre. In fact, we had combined classes for Tamil and English Medium schools. We would speak English only in English class. But I do not face any language difficulties. Teachers push us into talking in English; the students who come from Tamil medium are a little worried about this. I find some subjects like Foundation English and Fiction easy and enjoyable. As an allied subject we have Social History of England. This is a bit difficult, mainly because you have to commit to memory so many dates and have to follow the book — we cannot write on our own as in the other subjects.

Subash M. Final year, IT, Excel Engineering College, Komarapalayam, Namakkal district

I picked up English in school, so it was easy for me to study in college. From Class I to Class V, I was in a Tamil medium school and switched to a government school for Classes VI to X. For higher secondary I went to a matriculation school. So the transition from Tamil medium to English medium happened in stages. When I made the transition in school I found it difficult for a period of about two years.Now I am in an English medium college and I have no problem. I have two offers from campus interviews, one in Bangalore and one in Chennai. Since I have relatives in Chennai I am confident I can manage it there, so I will probably take up that offer.

Lakshimi, First year, MBA, Excel Business School, Komarapalayam, Namakkal district

I live in Salem and commute to college everyday. It takes about one hour. I studied English in school, so that was not a problem for me in college. However, I studied in an all-girls school and my undergraduate education (BBA) was in a co-ed college. That was new. First I was scared and struggled for nearly a month. I had to tell myself that things will be good, and I won’t be in trouble. My elder sister supported me a lot during this period. Since I got used to studying with boys, I do not have a problem now. As far as studies go, Periyar University syllabus is easier than Anna University.