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Monday, 6 October 2008

Open universities to offer language courses

IGNOU and TNOU are all set to offer basic language courses, with the stress on improving communication skills and soft skills, through the distance education mode.

With the rising importance of communication skills and soft skills training in the context of employability, colleges and universities are vying with each other to offer such courses. It is but right that, in this context, it is only right that open universities, or those that offer distance education jump onto the bandwagon too. And that is just what they are planning to do — be it the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) or the state’s Tamil Nadu Open University.

In Chennai recently, IGNOU Vice Chancellor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai told The Hindu Education Plus about his varsity’s vigorous entry into basic language courses offered through the distance education mode. “This move is based on demand. We are constantly being asked why the varsity is not offering basic language courses. After all distance education is also meant to satisfy a functional purpose. If the urgency it to impart communication skills, then we should offer such courses,” he said.

This is the first time ever that IGNOU is getting into pure language for communication training courses, he added. Hitherto English and Hindi were the medium of instruction of the main courses and a few courses in regional languages, offered in association with other centres of excellence.

To implement this objective, IGNOU will start a Centre for Modern Indian Languages, which will examine the feasibility and roll out certificate programmes in all the regional languages in the Schedule. “We are going to look at all major Indian languages, all those that are in the schedule and offer courses for non-resident speakers. For instance, Malayalam courses may be offered for Keralites in Mumbai and Delhi,” Prof. Rajasekharan Pillai explained. There are over 10-11 lakh families in Delhi and there was a request from the representatives of the Malayalee association.

“It is also culture-related. People are migrating more frequently from state to state and feel that their children often miss out on the opportunity to learn their mother tongue. We have had representations from associations bound by culture and linguistic identities. For example, the Tamil Association in Delhi have asked us to conduct Tamil courses and so on,” he added.

As a first step, the University has taken steps to start the first foundation language course in Bhojpuri, estimated to be spoken by at least 20 crore people in states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. According to an IGNOU communiqué, 70 per cent population in Mauritius too speak the language. Given the large scope of its usage, IGNOU set up an eight-member external expert committee to start the process of offering the course.

“We are going to make use of technology in order to teach these essentially communication training programmes. We will use the Direct To Home technology through Gyan Darshan which will reach about nine million homes, community radio and Gyan Vani,” Prof. Rajasekharan Pillai said. The university will develop multi-media packages for students to aid learning during contact classes which will be conducted by organisations who have expertise in that particular language.

The TNOU is also on the same path currently. Having offered a Spoken English course to excellent response among students, the varsity has now embarked on producing a CD for the subject that could be broadcast over cable networks.

The demand for other regional courses has also picked up in the state and the varsity will soon introduce courses during the academic year. Multi media packages will also be prepared for career guidance, yoga, and competitive exams at a cost of Rs. 3 crore, M.S.Palanichamy, Vice Chancellor, TNOU, said.
Source :RAMYA KANNAN, The Hindu

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