Investing in a language is for improving personality

Started by sajiv, Jul 28, 2009, 12:23 AM

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Investing in a language is for improving personality

"Investing in a language is just not for monetary benefits but for improving one's personality," asserts Eberhard Weller, Regional Co-ordinator for the South Asia Region, and Head of the Language Department, Max Muller Bhavan, New Delhi.

"It is not a question of how much I can make because of learning a language. Money will definitely come. But that is later. What all of us should understand is by learning another language you come to learn about another culture and this helps improve your personality."

Mr. Weller was here recently to launch a project sponsored by the Goethe Institut, headquartered in Germany with branches worldwide The project titled "Schools: Partner for the Future " aims at partnering with schools across India for German language and culture. This enables schools and students with the opportunity to build up an early bond with German culture and helps familiarise them with German education system by participating in integrated German classes in their schools. The thus-fostered inter-cultural dialogue offers new perspective to the young generation and enables it to present themselves as responsible players in a globalised world. The project is expected to cover 1,000 schools benefiting children in various countries.

In a chat with G. Satyamurty, he talks about the immense job potential for those learning German in India and how Indians could easily master the language. Besides, he outlines the steps initiated by the Goethe Institut to popularise the language in India.

Though German has been taught in India for almost five decades now, it is only during the last 15 years, things have changed quite a lot. All these years, the number of people who studied German in India was insignificant.

With a number of German companies setting up shop here, the job potential for those knowing German has increased manifold. But the efforts to teach German in a big way has not fructified as there is a serious dearth of German teachers.

In a bid to ameliorate the situation, the Goethe-Institut has chosen to identify some private schools as well as Kendriya Vidyalyas to popularise the language. This would be the focus for the next five to six years.

On an average, it has been planned to cover about 14,000 students per annum which would require a minimum of 400 teachers. "We may not be able to pay these teachers as much as we do for those employed by the Max Mueller Bhavan directly but would be better than that paid by the schools ," he adds.

Last year 41 "excellent" schools across the country were chosen.

During the next six years, it has been targeted to produce at least 1,000 teachers.

Teaching German could be a "lovely profession" both for men and women as they could do it part-time.

Mr. Weller is certain that German is not a language which is difficult to learn, especially for Indians, because of their Sanskrit background. In most parts of India, three-language formula is prevalent. He is certain that for any multi-lingual system Indians have the answer. "We can learn a lot from India." That is why two delegations of Principals from Germany did visit India. In September, a symposium with specific focus on India has been planned in Berlin.

The interest for learning German also is quite high in India with more and more German companies trooping into the country. German Government has also realised its importance. "It is good for Germany to have good Indians (knowing German)." Mr. Weller does not propose to stop with schools alone.

He points out that students exchange programmes have been quite successful during the past three years. "It is not only Indian students visiting Germany but also German students visiting India."

He admits that it has really been difficult to persuade and convince the parents in Germany to let their wards visit India.

Besides, 2011 has been named as German Cultural Year in India.

Major activities during that period would be to showcase Germany and German language, art and culture in different ways. That would include screening German films. "Last year we innovated a mental mathematics competition which has integrated German with Mathematics".

Even there is a programme for museum curators. The Institut has signed an MoU with the Indira Gandhi National Open University(IGNOU) for offering a Diploma course from January next. This would be a collaborative effort of University of Vienna and that of IGNOU. This would be the first Diploma to teach German as a foreign language. It has never been done so far in India.

He also has very interesting and novel ideas.

For instance, he would like to study the influence of Bollywood on Hindi and what Europeans can learn from it. Even India could do quite a lot in Europe for its image building, he concludes.

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