Bombay Showcase

Learning a foreign language: no distant dream

In LOve With language:Dr. Vidya Vencatesan, head of the French department at Mumbai University (right), has made it her mission to acquire the latest French books for the library.— Photo: Vijay Bate  

For years, Mumbaikars who wanted to learn a new language had no other option but to enrol for certificate courses at independent organisations or join language intensive centres like the Goethe-Institut or Alliance Française.

For a more formal option, they could enrol themselves in Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies in Delhi, opt for an immersive course and acquire a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in languages such as French, Russian, Spanish, German, Japanese, Persian, and Arabic.

But a decade ago, then-Vice-Chancellor Vijay Khole (now VC at Amity University) had the foresight to prepare for a rise in demand for foreign languages in the city, introducing five-year integrated programme in French, German and Russian. Established in the academic year 2005-06, the three courses are just a drop in the vast ocean of linguistic opportunities that the University at Kalina offers.

The university also offers other language options, including Japanese, Urdu, and Mandarin. There’s a variety of attendance options as well, to ensure that working individuals and students alike have the opportunity to a language of their preference. Students can join the programmes after completing Standard XII.

Unfortunately, the university relies entirely on word of mouth to spread the news on the courses. In the past few years, the French course has attracted only a handful, albeit though, dedicated students. For instance, 30-something architect Ashutosh Shah, has left his profession to pursue a career in French. Shah is currently in the second year of the Master’s programme.

“I was totally apprehensive [about learning] literature and I was horrible in it in college. That’s the beauty of the programme, we study current affairs, and in literature we study 17th century and the mindsets prevailing at the time. You realise how it’s all interconnected and you understand life in a different way.”

Applications for the courses at Mumbai University are closed, however late enrolments will be considered. For details see:

There’s a variety of attendance options to ensure that working individuals have the opportunity to learn

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 12:29:17 PM |

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