I am new here. (check out the introduction section) My wife and I are coming to Tamil Nadu in August to stay for 6 months and are keen to do one month of intensive Tamil learning in this time.
Ideally we want to do this with a teacher at the beginning of our stay (in August time) 5 days a week for a month. So my question is do any of you know/recommend a course/teacher who can facilitate this? I am pretty flexible on location although Chennai, Trichy and Madurai would be my preferences.
My next question is have any of you heard of Indo Vacations, they seem to be offering a language course but provide limited details about it. I was wondering if any of you have had dealings with them?
I have loads more questions about travel/stay in India but will search the site thoroughly before swamping you with them so in the meant time appreciate any help you guys can offer.
Madras Institute of Asian Studies --- Tamil Page --- Highly reputed place to study Tamil culture. Other cultures studied: Japanese, Kannada, and Telugu.
Madras MOZHI TRUST A Research Center for Resource Development in Language and Culture
I have had contact only with Int'l Institute of Tamil Studies situated near IIT Madras, I believe it's in Thirumani. In 1999 I purchased a casette course to learn Tamil. It was very good but it was only in Tamil so I had to get someone to translate it for me. But I am sure they have teachers there.
Another recommendation is maybe you can contact Tamil profs in University of Madras, etc. WHen I lived in Tambaram, I had hired a tutor (who was a Tamil prof and actually had a clock in his house with Tamil numbers on it!) from Madras Christian College to teach me Tamil.
Many thanks for the info. I will start doing some digging and let you know when I find a suitable course in Chennai.
I have heard that if you contact the Tamil language teachers in any good school they would be pleased to give you private tuitions for a reasonable fee. You could try some school close to where you will be staying. Im also trying to get the contact details of the elderly maami who taught my nephews once, while they were visiting from abroad. If I get it, I will let you know. In the meantime if you find anyone good, please post so that we can also have these details handy.
So here is an update on my plans to learn Tamil. I have got positive repsonses from two places one is Institute of Asian Studies address Sholinganallur Madras 600 119 India as recommended by Jennifer (Alaivani). The other is a course organised by indo vacations.
The Institute has quoted me $300 for a 1 months intensive course for both my wife and I ($150 each). This sounds reasonable given this is a dedicated language school. I have emailed to get more info regarding class size and hours per day etc... This option sounds promising given they have a track record of teaching Tamil and have come recommended.
The indovacations course is for the same period, they provide accomodation at a guest house (no indication as to where in Chennai) and two live in tutors for the month. The cost for this in total will be $3000 for both of us, even including food and accomodation this seems very steep to me? This option appears more expensive but will give me the all inclusive package so there is a convenience factor to weigh up plus the tutors will be with us 24/7.
So my question is could I get decent/clean accomodation and food for one month near to the institute for my wife and I? I will be ariving on the 15th August and leaving Chennai on the 12th Sept I reckong my max budget would be 2000rps per night but would be looking to pay nearer a 1000 if possible.
Right the course at the institute of Asian studies is on a daily basis, with 3 hours per day teaching and 2 hours a day on training drills, which I guess will be practical application of what has been taught earlier in the day.
From reading this site and other places Sholinganallur seems to be about 12km south of Adyar. If I stayed in Adyar or around there would it be cheap and convenient to commute on a daily basis down the ECR to sholinganallur or am I better off looking for accomodation closer to the institute?
From my initial reseach the ECR (between Palavakkam and Uthandi) seems premium priced for holiday/beach tourists, are there cheaper places around here as well?
Great info Ravi, especially for those [and there are many] who want to get back to their roots and learn their mother tongue properly. I wish you luck with your accommodation. Let us know how the course was once you're finished with it.
Ravi, you never got an answer to your last questions.
You could commute from Adyar or Besant Nagar to Sholinganallur, but it is quite a long trip and would probably add to your expenses. The 'rush hour' works both ways, as so many people are commuting out to places like Sholinganallur as well as in to the city.
To the south of Palavakkam is resort land: yes, holiday tourists and beaches. Could be nice if you can afford it, though, to have a seaside place to escape to in the evening!
Does the institute offer any list of hotels/guesthouses, or any recommendations?
Sholinganallur is a village that has got taken over by the IT zone expansion. It is actually on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, although there is a short direct link road to the ECR. If there are any guest houses there, then I guess they will be catering to the IT people, which might suit you
Thanks for that info Nick, much appreciated. Its a shame the institute is not closer into central Chennai as from what I read on the site it seems that would be a great experience to stay centrally for a while.
I was having difficulty finding anywhere within budget, it was mostly expensive hotels or fairly pricy serviced apartments near to sholinganallur. Most of the apartments in this area that I contacted ranged from 40000 rs upwards. However, due to fortunate circumstances, the institute are now in a position to offer me some accommodation at a much more reasonable price so its worked out well.
My course starts on Monday 18th August runs for 4 weeks until the 12th September. Hopefully it should put my wife and I firmly on the path to speaking Tamil properly and equip us for the rest of stay in Tamil Nadu.
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. My wife and I returned from India some 4 weeks ago now after spending 6 months (most of the time in Madurai) in Tamil Nadu. It was an amazing experience made all the better because of the Tamil course we undertook in Chennai.
The institute of Asian studies is primarily a research centre into Tamil and wider asian culture and particularly linguistics. However they are willing to take on tamil language students time permitting. Its a lovely place some 20kms from the city centre with an isolated almost rural feel to the campus.
We did a 1 month course (weekdays only). Our days started at 10am and finished around 4.30pm with 1 hour lunch break. In the morning we had two formal lessons one with a Dr which went through role playing of common scenarios so we would be more adept at using the transport system, ordering food, going shopping etc...
THe next lesson was with the institute director who is unique in my history in that he is experienced in teaching Tamil as a foreign language to westerners. This was amazingly useful as he was able to impart the grammar of tamil into the structure of english which made it so much easier for us. The whole point of this lesson was too equip us with the tools for sentence construction. So verb tenses, case markers, sentence structure...etc...
This particular daily lesson was invaluable and certainly the best tamil instruction I have received. It illuminated all the rules and ways of speaking that were completely opaque to me before.
In the afternoons we would move down to the libarary and spend a couple of hours with the researchers simply practicing conversations. As opposed to the morning teachers these guys had limited or no english which really improved our understanding and confidence in speaking Tamil.
By the end of the course our Tamil had improved exponentially and really helped us when we went down to Madurai. Which as most of you will know is far less english speaking than Chennai.
So the course was well worth it. I am not saying its perfect there were down points but in general it certainly helped us acheive our objectives of becoming conversational in Tamil.
For anyone reading this thread thinking of doing a Tamil course.. I have just started a 4 month, 3-day a week course at the Institute of Asian studies and so far, it is proving very good. Full on and intensive but if my Tamil doesn't improve beyond recognition, it will be my fault and not theirs! Hopefully, by the time I get married, I will be able to talk to my Tamil husband's family - not to mention all the other fantastic people you come across in Tamil Nadu. Will keep you posted and any questions, just ask!