“Nandri Ayya”, says this undergraduate student of Tamil and Linguistics to a university professor. Though strange to hear such chaste Tamil from a 22-year-old, the surprise element takes a back seat when it is learnt that she is from Malaysia.
Yet, Revathy Manokaran is of the view that ‘Tamil cannot be learnt better than in Tamil Nadu’. This is what students of Department of Asian Studies – Tamil from University of Malaya, Malaysia, have concluded after completing a part of their three-week long training in linguistics at the Bharathiar University.
As many as 20 undergraduate and post-graduate students are being trained by linguistic experts in various aspects of Tamil language and linguistics.
It came as a surprise to the Department of Linguistics of Bharathiar University when it was asked by the University of Malaya to conduct a 21-day training-cum-workshop on linguistics for its students. The foreign university has been arranging this fully sponsored outbound programme for the last five years.
According to V. Thayalan, Professor of Linguistics, the Malayan university gave the host university complete freedom to develop the content and delivery modes for the training.
“This is the first time we are getting students from a foreign country for training and it is a good experience for them as well as the department. Linguistic experts from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, are taking sessions for the students on use of Tamil in computers, in teaching, in translation, social and dialectal variations, psycholinguistics, folk lore, tribal languages, etc.,” he says.
The department has also arranged for some field visits to a school, college, language institutes, etc., for the students to get a feel of the education system here.
Revathy considers herself lucky as she is among the 20 selected, based on the CGPA, to attend the training. Her level of awe and admiration for the wealth of knowledge that her group is receiving at the training is “something that I cannot express”.
“The expertise of the resource persons, the warmth of the professors of the department, and the hospitality, has made us feel like home. Our system of education is mostly online based and the human factor is very less,” says this Tamil lover who laments that Tamil is dying a slow death in Malaysia.
Though she selected Tamil and Linguistics for B.A. for the love of the language, she says that the education will also get her a good placement because job opportunities are galore in Malaysia for those who have studied Tamil. The Malayan university admits only 15 students in a batch because of stringent admission processes.
It is the second visit for Sathyaseelan Arjunan, first-year MA student, to Tamil Nadu on an outbound programme, but that does not diminish his enthusiasm.
“My first visit during my undergraduate days was to Tamil University in Thanjavur. That helped me choose my research topic that I will be undertaking in the second year of my course,” he says.
Feedback from them reveals that their education system gives importance to learning of languages, the more the better. From primary level, they are trained to study in three languages – Malay, Tamil and English. The Tamil fervour comes through in their conversation and there is a strong yearning to keep it alive by teaching it, becoming translators or using it in mass media.
The group is eager to go back and share their experiences so that the others get motivated to improve their CGPA and get selected to the next outbound programme to Tamil Nadu.
As many as 20 undergraduate and post-graduate students are being trained by linguistic experts in various aspects of Tamil language and linguistics