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It’s raining tongues

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Premier foreign language institutes are spreading their wings. They are expanding to new neighbourhoods to meet the growing demand for their courses. LIFFY THOMAS and T.S. ATUL SWAMINATHANreport

Students having an animated discusion about their German lessons, at Kumara Rani Menna Muthiah Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Adyar.Photo: M. Karunakaran
Students having an animated discusion about their German lessons, at Kumara Rani Menna Muthiah Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Adyar.Photo: M. Karunakaran

After staying single-address establishments for long, premier foreign language institutes are now putting down roots in new neighbourhoods. The Alliance Francaise of Madras, a majestic presence on College Road for over six decades, plans to open new French-teaching centres in north and south Chennai.

 The Nungambakkam-headquartered Goethe-Institut is equally ambitious in its expansion plans. After having expanded to Adyar, the German institution is all set to begin classes at a new facility in Anna Nagar. It also has its sights set on the southern suburbs: there is a strong indication that new Goethe-Institut centres will come up in Tambaram and Chrompet.

 Not just German and French, but there is a spurt in the numbers of all foreign language teaching schools. There are more takers for Spanish and Italian than ever before.

A desire for travel and an inclination to understand other cultures and worldviews have always spurred people on to take up the study of foreign languages. However, the changing contours of international trade and increasing business ties among the nations is the major reason for the galloping interest noticed now. Mandarin is a classic example: businessmen in Chennai that are keen on trade with China have taken up the study of the language. The Chinese Institute of Chennai, which has facilities in Ashok Nagar and Adyar, will shortly expand to Tambaram.

 The advent of international manufacturing giants – especially those in the automobile industry – also drives this trend. For example, the demand for Korean is steadily going up, as evidenced by the attendance at InkoCentre (R.A. Puram), which takes classes every Monday and Wednesday.

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