Call it a generational shift or the compulsion of changing times, more students whose mother tongue is Tamil are now learning Hindi as their second language in schools in Coimbatore.
School teachers too feel that learning Hindi in addition to one’s mother tongue gives students an edge when it comes to relocating outside Tamil Nadu in later years.
Some parents like Tamilselvan Nachimuthu, a bank employee, are enrolling their children in private Hindi tuition centres. “If my daughter learns to speak Hindi, she would not have to be tongue-tied when I am transferred to a north Indian State,” says Nachimuthu whose father was a staunch supporter of the anti-Hindi movement.
“In our school we provide Hindi and Tamil as additional languages for students who do not have these languages as their mother tongue. Even though this was optional, we find that most Tamil students now opt to learn Hindi,” says a principal of a leading school in R S Puram. “We start teaching them alphabets from class III and slowly move on to grammar as the language is not spoken in their homes,” he adds. Teachers also give imposition to students in Hindi so that they pick up the language fast.
“Learning Hindi or any other language is a matter of choice and no one can be forced to learn or shun a language. Today, with students reaching out and making their mark at the national and international arenas, it is an important advantage to know the language.
However, if they willingly choose to turn away from it, that choice should also be respected,” says K Sathyanarayanan, principal of Mani Higher Secondary School.
Teachers also say that some parents are forcing their children to study Hindi as they feel it would help them be at home when they go for higher education in other States.
“We do have some students who are reluctant learners of the language. But we have also seen cases where a reluctant learner grasps the language fast and begins to hum Hindi melodies,” says a Hindi teacher of a school in Vada Kovai.
Interestingly, in a reverse trend, some Hindi-speaking students have started learning Tamil in schools. Champa, a class VI student of a school in R S Puram, who hails from Delhi, says she can read Tamil name boards.
“I took up to learning Tamil as an additional language from class III. Initially it was difficult, as we do not speak Tamil at home. But our teachers are patient and I am gradually picking up Tamil. Now I actually like it, when I learn new Tamil words,” she says.