This site contains a number of different kinds of teaching materials suitable for studying modern Spoken and Written Tamil with a teacher. The materials are therefore not self-instructional, but could be used for self-instructional purposes by a highly motivated learner, especially if feedback from a competent teacher is available.

Since the focus of these materials is instruction in modern Spoken and Written Tamil, students who are interested in learning classical, medieval, or pre-modern Tamil should consult the Tamil Website at the University of California, Berkeley. Materials here are arranged in order of difficulty, from easy to more difficult. We begin with lessons on Tamil alphabet, making syllables, simple conversational Tamil (spoken) and move to Tamil folk tales (Written; intermediate level) and then on to more complex spoken and written materials. If you do not have a Tamil font for your browser, click here for how to download one from this site or other websites, so you can see the Tamil in Tamil script.

Materials below are designed to teach different skills. Tamil is a language with a very different spoken form than its written (literary) form, which is the form used for most printed matter, literacy, religious texts, etc. The spoken dialect we use is one that is used by most educated people in interaction with other educated Tamilians; it is commonly found in film dialogue and in some other kinds of performance such as in radio plays, live drama, and some types of television broadcasting. Spoken Tamil (ST) is the variety that all Tamilians use to communicate with other speakers in face-to-face interaction; Written Tamil is not used for oral communication, although it does have a reading pronunciation (it can be read unerringly from its written representation) and oral production of it is highly valued in the society. It may be heard in public speaking, incantation of religious texts and prayers, and in other formal contexts, such as in educational settings, the reading of news in radio and television broadcasting, some kinds of political oratory, and some others.

The skills we are currently able to teach over the web are the following:

  1. Spoken Tamil comprehension, i.e. listening. Materials that are specifically Spoken Tamil (rather than Written Tamil) will be marked with the symbol , and whenever materials are given in both ST and WT, we will mark each utterance with the symbols for Spoken and for Written.

  2. Written Tamil comprehension, i.e. reading.

  3. Written Tamil production, i.e. writing in the literary dialect of Tamil.

Because of the current limits of the Web, we are not able to provide the social interaction and oral feedback that would allow us to teach the active production of speaking Tamil. Our materials are designed to be used with a teacher, and some exercises, e.g. can be emailed to your teacher for evaluation and grading. (Please do not send them to us.). However, you are welcome to sign our guestbook. Read config.html for how to configure your netscape browser for sending your answers via. email.