Saturday, March 5, 2016

The long tail of languages

India is a unique country. With 122 odd major languages and 1599 other languages. And yet, the languages available in schools is dependent on many factors - like demand, availability of teachers and so on.

So, on the one hand, there are a range of options of choose from, on the other hand it is not uniform.

Here is where the power of the internet can be used. If for every language, the government made courses available online with tests and practice lessons - anybody can learn any language at home. Without having to depend on the quality of teachers, number of students and suchlike.

All they need is a standard question paper that gets delivered (and this can be automated from a huge question bank) to do the tests.

Wonder if something like this is already available?

The truth is also that schools with non English mediums of instructions are closing down in urban areas - slowly but surely. And English is the language of opportunities, the other languages deserve to be learnt - and here is where the HRD Ministry can step in and provide those opportunities.

Epilogue: I cannot read and write in my mother tongue - and that is not a great state of affairs. Considering a rich literature that is available in Tamil (and this applies to all other Indian languages) - but I cannot read it unless it is translated. This is true for many others - perhaps this is an initiative worth considering? A National Languages Mission?

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