India: You can now learn French, German in Tamil

Don Osborn dzo at
Sun Apr 12 15:34:59 UTC 2009

This is a noteworthy development, but the fact it is news says something

It will be interesting to see if there will be more "south to north" and
"south to south" language learning pairs - i.e., I consider using Tamil to
learn French "south to north" (north in the sense of the European languages
that dominate globally) and for instance using Swahili or Yoruba to learn
Chinese (or vice-versa) "south to south." 

In the case of Africa I've commented elsewhere (H-Africa) that especially
for speakers of African languages with (superficially) similar structure to
Chinese, it is rather unfair to teach them Chinese uniquely via a second
language that is structurally (and perhaps tonally) dissimilar to both
Chinese and their first language. As far as I know, all Chinese language
courses in Africa are given from a Europhone language (mainly English or
French) or Arabic. 

Even where it might not be economical to translate the presentation of all
(second) language courses into all (first) languages, it would certainly be
possible to at least incorporate information from local languages into the
material in substantive and I think very productive ways.


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-lgpolicy-list at
[mailto:owner-lgpolicy-list at] On Behalf Of Harold
Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2009 9:45 AM
To: lp
Subject: India: You can now learn French, German in Tamil

 Forwarded From:  edling at

The Times of India

You can now learn French, German in Tamil

Tamil speakers who are not fluent in English will now be able to learn
foreign languages as Loyola College is all set to start courses in
French and German, using Tamil as the medium of instruction.

"The idea occurred to us when a student asked whether it would be
possible to teach him French using Tamil instead of English. A working
knowledge of French, he felt, could help him get a job," said Francis
M Peter, director, Research Academy of Cumulative Excellence (RACE), a
division of Loyola College that equips individuals with different
levels of language proficiency to help them better career prospects.
Speaking to journalists here on Wednesday, he said that the concept of
using the mother tongue for foreign language instruction had already
been tested in the college classrooms.

Full story:


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at


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