Panel: Learning Languages in Tandem: On Intercultural Creative Methods and Communicative Platforms


Raum: F 5, 2. OG, Fürstenberghaus
Tag Zeit    
Di 13:30-14:00 Dadhe Learning to Read by Reading to Learn
Di 14:00-14:30 Wengoborski SUHiTa – Sinhalese Urdu Hindi in Tandem: From minimal teaching resources towards learner orientated methods
Di 14:30-15:00 Görgen Aaj ka penpal


Sonja Wengoborski, Katharina Görgen, Kasturi Dadhe

Beschreibung des Panels:

Learning languages has always been of crucial importance to indological studies. However, with ongoing time the framework and the methodology adopted to learning languages has not remained the same. Especially in a German context, one notices paradigm shift/s towards language learning owing to the recent structural changes imposed upon the universities here.
The interest in contemporary South Asian Languages in not only limited to research in pure, classical realm of Indology but has indeed expanded. Learning languages has evolved from being ‘the’ domain of classical Indology students. Today, groups from every knowledge seeking sphere are involved in language learning activities in order to help them cope better with the ever changing linguistic and cultural world around them.
Our global world has become small and India and its neighbouring countries are felt to be much closer than ever before. Among the German speaking public, India is no more perceived as that chaotic yet exotic country as it was seen twenty years ago. Today companies from Germany head towards the discovery of new markets like those in India. Currently, South Asia participates evenly in a breath taking fast development of new medias and technological inventions. Can we argue whether India, and countries as such, have indeed been successful in discovering and integrating social media in their daily realms sooner than Europe did?
With swanky tools such as smart phones and the wireless web, it is no surprise that people prefer the convenience of knowledge at their finger tips than rummaging through the traditional, conventional house of knowledge: the library.
Through this panel we want to take a closer look at the potential of modern means of language learning on different levels. The simple yet innovative method of SSL or Same Language Subtitling, uses modern technology in an effort to improve literacy rates amongst those with little or no access to formalised teaching. Over the last 15 years SLS has shown remarkable results within rural communities of India. Not only has SLS helped people to become aware of literacy issues but has motivated them to evolve into better ‘learning communities’.
New technological tools such as online platforms and video-communication offer new possibilities to support the process of language acquisition by making learners communicate with each other and thus mutually support each others’ efforts: The Mumbai based project portrayed in Aaj ka penpal presents the ways of modern support in language learning in a contemporary, intercultural way, while SUHiTa, a project at JGU Mainz, aims at adopting new methods into the curricula involving the acquisition of modern South Asian Languages pragmatically. A common trait to all these activities is the shift of impetus from teaching towards learning.


Indologie und Südasienkunde

Abstracts der Vorträge:

Dadhe, Kasturi: Learning to Read by Reading to Learn

The paper presentation titled ‘Impact of Television on Distance Education in India: Insights on Literacy’ deals with the issue of media and technology. The purpose is to investigate and observe its impact on the education sector in India. The paper deals with the relationship between mass media, with special regards to television, and education. I highlight the measures undertaken by a non-governmental organization PlanetRead towards this cause. PlanetRead has been working consistently towards using the tool of the Same-Language-Subtitling (SLS) efficiently as part of a literacy drive in India. The paper acts as a case study between the scalable and non-scalable measures undertaken for education and literacy in India.

Görgen, Katharina: Aaj ka penpal

Classic methods of language learning have ever since been supplemented by all kinds of extra activities. Their main aim has been to motivate the students by giving them insights in the new culture to which they were exposed.
One of these methods is the ‘pen pal’. For generations language learners have used their new learned vocabulary to communicate with someone in a foreign country with a view of not only improving their language skills but also get an insider’s peel into their cultural habits, society differences and so on. By getting a chance to discuss mundane as well as country or culture-specific topics led to the formation of everlasting friendships. It evolved into a personal relationship with a pen pal penning away thoughts and ideas from a faraway place.
In the age of communication technologies overcoming geographic borders like no other form of communication has ever before, modern communication has a permanent place in language learning in the 21th century. Social platforms offer new possibilities to get language learners connected. Although most textbooks still work with the letter or the e-mail methodolgy, in reality for most youngsters these forms are, unlike posts on social networks, already old-fashioned. Exchanging point of views, pictures and ideas on social platforms fits in their daily habits. If the activities are organized in groups supervised by a trained administrator, they offer students the chance to express themselves in a known and much liked medium. Even though it is generally more suited for the treatment of cultural topics than for grammar lessons, the wish to express oneself can also lead to increased motivation for the language class. Using the example of ‘Mumbaikar’ French I would like to demonstrate the possibilities social platforms offer as tools in effective language learning.

Wengoborski, Sonja: SUHiTa – Sinhalese Urdu Hindi in Tandem: From minimal teaching resources towards learner orientated methods

Since the introduction of BA-MA along with the suspension of Magister studies at German universities, learners of South Asian languages face a real challenge: They have to tackle learning languages they usually don’t have any previous knowledge of in limited time, often along with a lack of crucial acquirements in terminology of grammar.
In Mainz, the framework of “BA Indology, Beifach” as well as in the context of “BA linguistics” requires them to take up the study of Hindi without prior knowledge of Sanskrit as well. Teaching-time is scarce and despite an optional tutorial yet students reflect their discontent towards the fact that despite sincere efforts, they hardly have the chance to learn what language in the first place is meant for: communication.
Since public budgets tend to diminish rather than increase, other ways are to be thought of bringing an improvement about. The idea of getting learners of Sinhalese, Urdu and Hindi together to communicate with learners of German in the respected South Asian countries is what SuHiTa is all about. The Gutenberg-Lehrkolleg of JGU Mainz has accepted a proposal to test different models of tandem-learning and think about new ways of how to acknowledge and integrate the more or less autonomous work done by the students into study courses. The project starts from summer semester 2013 and continues over through the following semester. In this paper the results of the first half of the project shall be presented.