For people as passionate as them, awards can only be reason to continue their pursuit with more enthusiasm.
When Hema Parthasarathy, head, Translation and Interpretation Cell, Alliance Francaise, Chennai and Chitra Krishnan, head of the French and Foreign Languages department, University of Madras, received the Officier des Palmes Academiques and the Chevalier des Palmes academiques awards respectively recently, it was a moment of great honour and pride.
Engaging with French teaching and learning for nearly three decades, the two women who received the honour from French ambassador in India Jerome Bonnafont, say they look forward to more work in the area.
Chitra Krishnan might have started studying French as a school kid because her mother felt Hindi was too difficult. “As the old, wise tale goes, French is easy.” But once she discovered her flair for the language, her interest grew very quickly.
Interestingly, both awardees belong to the first batch of M.A. French offered by the University of Madras. “We joined in 1980 and the university initially offered the course through Alliance. It is one of the best experiences we have had,” says Ms. Chitra Krishnan, who has also taught in Stella Maris before joining the university.
Specialising in Quebecois literature, she pursued her M. Phil and later Ph.D in the subject. “Working in a college is like being in a cocoon in some ways. The university experience is totally different. It's like real life hitting you.”
For Ms. Hema Parthasarathy, the Alliance experience has been “very enriching”. Pointing to a “booming interest” in languages and particularly French, she says this is evident from the increase in the number of enrolments at Alliance Francaise.
“In schools, a language is taught as a subject, often with an examination in mind. But when one learns a language outside of school, the approach is different,” says Ms. Hema Parthasarathy, who was with Vidya Mandir, teaching French for nearly a decade, before she was drawn to Alliance Francaise.
“It has been a lovely experience. Each of our directors brings in a different kind of dynamism and working in such an atmosphere can be very interesting,” she adds. She intends helping the school she worked for set up a language lab. “It will be very exciting to do that.”
Ms. Chitra Krishnan, too, is excited about furthering her knowledge in the subject and teaching of the subject. “It has been an amazing journey so far, and I am nowhere near the end of it,” she says, thanking her family friends and students for their support.
Keywords: French studies