The French connection

Here and Now: An ongoing lecture. Photo: Shruti Mulvadi  

His enthusiasm for teaching and his passion for the French language drove him to give up a secured job as a professor and start his own French institute. He holds a degree in Psychology and is an ardent believer in the concept of ‘living in the moment’. Ruthran Raghavan started Here and Now – The French Institue, in Chennai not more than a few years back and today he has every reason to cheer. Ruthran talks to NXg about Here and Now, its nuances and what drives him...

How did you get introduced to French?

I am a psychologist and I have completed my MSc in Counseling Psychology from Madras School of Social Work. I started to learn French while I was still pursuing my bachelor’s degree in B.Sc. Chemistry. I felt an instant connection with the language and realised that I enjoyed learning French more than my college curriculum. I started teaching French at Jawahar Vidyalaya and I also had the opportunity to work as a receptionist at Alliance Française. In due course, I began teaching at Alliance as a professor.

How did it all start?

One of my students at Alliance, Ram, suggested that I should start an independent class in French for him and a few others. It was just a casual idea but it was that day that I realised that there were a lot of students who liked my teaching style and were eager to join my classes.

I had very little hope initially but with the support of my students Dr. Arun Kumar and Rishabh Chatterjee who are now a part of the core team I was able to accomplish this feat. Today, people recognise Here and Now as a premium institute for learning French.

How did you come up with the institute’s name?

Few years back I was living my life with full of complaints and regrets. I was worrying all the time and had experienced nothing but failure. I then happened to pick up a book called How to Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie, this book talked about living in the moment and experiencing the ‘Here and Now’ which is the only thing that really matters. My favourite movie Peaceful Warrior is based on the same concept – Living in the present. Once I started living in the moment my life started to change for the better. There is no better place than here and now.

What makes Here and Now different from other institutes?

We suggest that once you learn French it boosts your career, improves your communication just like other institutes but we focus on making the present moment happier for students for a better future. Inside the class we give freedom to the professors to innovate new methods of teaching. We don’t stress only on certificates or exams. As a part of learning we screen French movies, we’ve a concept called Club Café where we invite a French native to our institute and there’s a cultural exchange that happens, we also have our Institute’s newsletter called Metro Chocolat which is for the students and by the students . We also provide counselling and training on soft skills and languages.

Le rêve (the dream)...

What was a dream five years ago has materialised into an institute that people recognise today. Looking ahead I see Here and Now as a university. I don’t like the conventional ways of teaching, My personal vision is that psychology should be a part of daily curriculum because we relate with human beings not with object all the time. When I was teaching French I was just a Std XII pass student but I was teaching people who were doctors, gold medallists, advocates, engineering students with better academics and I could teach them and get through to them only because of my background in psychology.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 2:32:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/the-french-connection/article5240096.ece

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