CHENNAI: It would be inaccurate to say that Tamil Nadu has been following a two-language policy for the last several years, for most private schools in the State offer a total of three languages. And, that is not just the central board schools but also the matriculation ones. “In private schools there is already a three language formula. There are many students from other states studying here.
How will they pick up Tamil if they migrate when they are older?” asks KR Nandhakumar, member of a schools association. There is a lot of migration near the borders, he says. “Many parents want their wards to learn their mother tongue formally. We cannot deny them that right.” Many private schools in the State offer third languages including Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi, Telugu, German, French and Urdu- from Class 1-12. The principal of a leading school in Chennai told Express that parents ask for Hindi as an option.
“Many parents want their children to learn Hindi and ask us if we offer it even before applying. We also offer French and German because some of our students apply abroad,” she said. In fact, even government and aided schools offer languages other than Tamil along the State’s border. “While teaching Hindi was discontinued decades ago, the State offers Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada lessons to schools in the border districts. We also have Urdu classes,” said an official from the School Education Department. In private schools Hindi however, is the most opted language after Tamil.
This may mean that the language may gain more takers if it is introduced in the State. According to the New Education Policy, “the three languages learned by children will be the choices of States, regions, and of course the students themselves, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India.” The policy reasons by saying that children pick up languages extremely quickly between the ages of 2 and 8 and that multilingualism has great cognitive benefits to young students.
Children will be exposed to different languages early on starting from the Foundational Stage. Speaking to Express, K Deena Bandhu, Special Officer, Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, Tamil Nadu said that many students in Tamil Nadu want to learn Hindi for a variety of reasons. “Learning an additional language is a plus anyway. Hindi is one of the most spoken languages in India and it is important for employment opportunities. We have students from across different backgrounds who want to learn Hindi in Tamil Nadu,” he said adding that many students approach the institution because they cannot find good Hindi classes outside. After all, there is a difference between imposition and having a choice.