Being a semi tom-boy, I have always been fascinated by gadgets and technology. Now, technology has gotten humanity to heights like never before. This is evident in the field of education and learning. I am not referring to academia – I mean the other kind of learning outside school – the unconventional methods that have come to be these days.
If not for technology and social media, my latest hobby wouldn’t have materialised. I have been in Bangalore for about three years now. Though I can pretty much understand Kannada (the local regional language), speaking is slightly problematic. The bigger words are not the issue. The smaller intricacies such as usage of fillers, pronouns, gender-neutral words and constructing conversational sentences here and there still has a long way to go. I was wondering how best to get over that hurdle…That is when this unique initiative caught my eye.
So, this group of people from Karnataka (the state in which Bangalore is located), have started an initiative to create increased awareness about the culture and heritage of their hometown. One part of this initiative is to teach Kannada to outsiders settled here and anybody else who wishes to brush up on their language skills. It can be compared as one of the online learning options, but the only difference is – instead of an app/website they teach it through Whatsapp (yes, the widely used messenger application)!!
How this works is – they ask you to register for the course through their website (by paying a nominal amount) and add you to a Whatsapp group in monthly batches. Then, you get daily lessons of words with their English counterparts as well as voice notes from the mentors to help with the pronunciations. The mentors are usually available within the group for any clarifications or to provide extra help. This is usually a one-month course with an assessment in the end. There are three levels available.
It has been about a couple of weeks now since the course started and I like it. There are times when my eyes almost pop trying to read the words..and there’s a lot of tongue rolling to be done here and there (think that’s a common feature between all four South Indian languages!)but then, it later sinks in after I repeat it out aloud. And yes, I have managed to learn things that I didn’t know. I just need to converse more and I think it’ll help me go a long way. Oh and for all of us ‘students’, they organize a meet and greet event once a month. You can take a friend along if you want to. So I’m looking forward to going for the next one in August.How cool is that!
When I read about this initiative, I jumped with joy. For, it sounded perfect. I can do it at my own pace and time – there are offline classes available, but I always found the timings inconvenient and more importantly, they were in the more formal format. On the other hand, studying through online courses was again not very exciting because I’d have to spend more time sitting in front of the system through the day. This option felt like the perfect middle ground.
Why this sudden interest in learning? Simple. I have always been of the opinion that when you settle down in a place, it’s always nice to adapt and try to learn the local spoken language even if you can get around with other languages. Two reasons to this: Firstly, learning the language is the only way you’ll ever truly be at home there; be able to connect with the locals; and secondly – It’s like you are accepting and paying your respects to that place. Now, this is a very personal opinion and I am sure that there will be those who agree to this and others who don’t .
Learning a language is never easy; it is not difficult either. Also, the time you spend explaining to people why you don’t know the language, you might as well divert that time towards learning it don’t you think! And moreover, there’s no rule about how long you should take to learn a new language, right! Do it for yourself..its very refreshing.
Plus think about it – you can put one more language in your kitty ;)!