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A taste for Japanese

RIGHT APPROACH: Students learn a language and culture. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan  

COIMBATORE: 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 Purandaradasar hall, 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 about “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 as well. “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 conduct sessions, where the students are taught 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 . Also, Tamil has a wide range of sounds and alphabets. Hence, the students grasp the pronunciation of Japanese words fast.”

Nithyashree, a final year student of engineering, says that she came to learn Japanese because of the placement opportunities it offered. Shiva Ramanathan, who now does his advanced level says, “After I passed the basic round, as many as 20 companies called me.”

Shanmuga Priya says that engineering students come to the institute because companies such as Toshiba and TCS look for professionals who know Japanese as they have Japanese clients. The institute also takes separate classes for engineering colleges such as PSG College of Technology, Sri Eshwar College of Engineering and the trainees of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

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.


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 12:15:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/a-taste-for-japanese/article4626814.ece

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