Speaking Japanese in Coimbatore

Right approachStudents not only learn Japanese language but also experience Japanese culture at the institute.Photos: S. Siva Saravanan  

From wanting to read the Manga comics in original to being able to talk to clients, Coimbatoreans find many good reasons to learn Japanese

Aravind, a class XII student loves Japanese animation films and comics. “I want to read the Manga comics in Japanese and watch the animation films without subtitles!” he says. In order to do that, he has enrolled into ABK-ATOS DOSOKAI, a Japanese Language Learning Centre, at R. S. Puram.

It is break time and the students relax after a heavy session on Japanese grammar. Aravind’s friend Praveen is also a student there, and they are discussing animatedly “J-pop” and “ghost animae”. Praveen enjoys Japanese music. “The Japanese pop music scenario is quite active. They are as strong as the Korean pop music now. Like K-pop, they are called the J-pop,” he explains.

They are also huge fans of Japanese ghost animation films. Their teacher and director of the institution, S. Shanmuga Priya, who they call “Sensei”, meaning “teacher” in Japanese, says that the two of them persuade her to watch these films. “I do not like ghost films. Since they have given me the CDs now, I have no other option,” she smiles.

A post-graduate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course, from Chennai University, Shanmuga Priya was all set to join a private company. “It was my teacher, Ranganathan, the chairman of ABK-ATOS DOSOKAI in Chennai, who encouraged me to start a centre in Coimbatore.”

Another student, Chithra, in the advanced level, says it is her admiration for Japanese culture that inspired her to come here. “Japanese people are humble and modest,” she says.

P. Monisha, who was selected by the Japanese government for the Kizuna programme to visit the Fukushima site, is in awe of their hospitality. “I was called to a few houses and treated so royally.”

The syllabus at the institute has been designed to familiarise the students with Japanese culture. “When you learn a language, it is important to know its cultural background. We use audio-visual programmes so that the students are exposed to right diction, mannerisms and accent. We teach the students to use chopsticks and wear a kimono”, says Shanmuga Priya.

The Japanese Education Ministry has set the syllabus, and the course material is also provided by them. There are around 30 students, who fall into the basic- and advanced-level batches. Both the courses qualify the students to attempt the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

Despite the fact that the language has around 1850 standard scripts, the students say that they find learning it easy. “It is such an interesting language. You soon forget about the difficulties,” says Chithra.

Shanmuga Priya says the students’ knowledge of Tamil is a great help. “For instance, the Tamil expression Poyittu Varen is there in Japanese as well. They say Itte kimasu, which means the same thing . Shanmuga Priya now has plans of starting a library of Japanese books. “However, my first priority is to expand the infrastructure of the institute,” she says.

The students’ knowledge of Tamil is a great help. Tamil has a wide range of sounds and alphabets. Hence, the students grasp the pronunciation of Japanese words fast

S. Shanmuga Priya

ABK-AOTS DOSOKAI began as an initiative by the alumni of the Association for Oversees Technical Scholarship (AOTS) constituting engineers who worked in Japan.

The institute offers basic and advanced level courses in Japanese. The classes are held on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.

More In