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Two lists of Tamil teaching materials and other pedagogical resources
exist. One, produced by the Center for Applied Linguistics, is edited by
Dora Johnson and entitled Materials for the Uncommonly Taught
Languages. This list has not been updated for South Asia in some time.
Another, annually-updated list is the Inventory of Language
Materials that is produced by Columbia University's Center for Southern
Asia Studies (Pritchett and Magier, 1992 is the most recent version that
I possess), and can be found in our bibliography. It is the best list of
extant materials available, though in some cases, what constitutes
`extant' is in fact questionable, since even some of these materials are
out of print or difficult to obtain.
Of the materials listed as `extant' on the Pritchett and Magier list, I
would rank the following as worthy of inclusion in the initial stages
of our web site. These are listed in alphabetical order rather than in
order of perceived importance.
- Annamalai and Lindholm, Jim and Raja Conversations. These
spoken materials, long available in offset form and on tape from U. Chicago,
are now available in electronic form from Lindholm's own distribution center
(Tamil Language Study Association). They should be converted for web use.
Consisting of conversations only, exercises and other adaptations need to
be eventually made for them to make them more useful; some users have
such exercises already, and may contribute them.
- Asher, R. E. and Radhakrishnan, R. A Tamil Prose Reader. This
1971 text is expensive and lacks an adequate glossary; readings are not graded
and many of the choices of selections to include were politically motivated,
but lacking other adequate readers, many of us continue to use it. This is
one area where a pooling of our own individual caches of annotated
short-stories etc. will result in a much better product.
- Gair, James et al. An Introduction to Spoken Tamil.
External Services Agency, Univ. of Sri lanka. (1978.)
These materials were designed to teach Spoken Sri Lanka Tamil to
those who wish to learn that dialect (which is quite different from
`standard' Indian spoken Tamil). The grammar is given in English;
translations, dialogues, drills are given in Simhala as well.
It is not clear whether sound-recordings of any sort accompany these
- Hart materials:
- Hart, Kausalya and G. Hart: Tamil for Beginners,
Parts 1 and 2; Despite their ready availability in offprint form from
the Berkeley South Asia Center, the materials designed by George and
Kausalya Hart are, despite the availability of
G. Hart's own Macintosh fonts, hand-written. Need to be digitized.
- Hart, Kausalya: Tamil Madya: from Sangam to
Intermediate-level prose retellings of literary classics with vocabulary and
- Hart, K. Advanced Tamil via Audio-Video Media, I and II.
These are plot summaries of Tamil films; if there were a way to include the
Tamil films on the website as well, the materials accompanying them could be
more usefully included.
- Lindholm and Paramasivam's A Basic Tamil Reader and
Grammar. This offset-printed reader is used by most centers and
contains a complete glossary, and it is grammatically indexed. It can be
converted to hypertext without much difficulty; a number of users (e.g.
Cutler at Chicago, myself) have generated useful supplementary materials
that could be added, or provided as a supplement, such as translation
exercises, questions for discussion, etc. The grammatical index can
easily be linked in the html version with the grammatical points in
- Pattanayak et al./CIIL materials. The materials produced at CIIL can be
lumped together under one rubric. They were designed primarily for use by
mother-tongue speakers of Tamil who are raised in other linguistic
environments in India, e.g. in north India, so that they can in later life
acquire literacy in their home language. Lacking glossaries, grammatical
explanations, or any explanation of cultural context they are not useful for
second-language learners. Another subset of these materials were designed to
bring semi-literate speakers to fuller fluency in order to prepare them for
higher education and transition to English-medium university courses. The
content is also lacking in authenticity, being mainly translations of English
pedagogical materials, lectures, and the like. Again, such materials are hard
to adapt to the needs of second-language learners, and most of us have simply
preferred to design our own, especially after the advent of computer-generated
fonts made it possible to produce small numbers of decent-looking materials.
- Rajaram, S. An Intensive Course in Tamil This audio-lingual
introductory text is the most recent thing of its kind, despite its 1979 date;
there are problems with using it on our web site (the language, though
supposedly in spoken Tamil, is somewhat stilted, i.e. lacking in authenticity,
and the grammatical explanations provided are particularly problematical.)
Obtaining permission to copy it, and the tapes that accompany it, will be
difficult given the fact that they were produced in India, and by a government
agency (the Central Institute of Indian Languages); the litigious disposition
of Indian society adds to the problem.
- Schiffman, H. Radio Play Reader, Vol. I, Plays This 1971
romanized work has long been in need of a Tamil-script version; converting it
to hypertext for the Web will kill two birds with one stone, since it is also
almost out of print. The tapes for this are in good condition and still
available at the U. of Washington Language Learning Center. The audio
portion will be digitized and placed on the web site, while the
script will have to be Tamilized and provided as hypertext, with
glossary and notes available by hot-key, instead of the now
separate provision of these aids. HTML-ing these materials will
allow them to be updated and revised somewhat.
- Schiffman, H. Radio Play Reader, Vol. II: Grammar and Glossary.
The grammar portion of this has long been out of print, then was reprinted in
1979 as A Grammar of Spoken Tamil. This version is now also out of
print, but has been further revised, and the revised version can probably
also be put on the web site. The glossary portion should be included
with the plays, above, probably as links to a hypertext glossary.
- Schiffman, H. Intermediate Tamil, a Self-Instructional
Method. These 1974 mimeographed materials are sorely in need of
revision, but tapes to accompany them are available. They need to be
supplemented with more authentic conversational material covering a
broader range of grammatical and functional material. I wrote them
originally to supplement Doraswamy and Raja's Berkeley materials, which
were translated word-for-word from Hoenigswald's Spoken Hindustani
materials dating from the World War II era. Those materials curiously
provided students with no way to negate a sentence, or to express any
negative or contrary opinions about anything in the discourse. The
assumption seemed to be that everything was hunky-dory, and that Gricean
maxims of cooperativeness were always in effect in Tamil discourses.
Since anyone who is familiar with the Indian scene knows this is not
true, I wanted to provide students with some ways of expressing
disagreement with their interlocutors---they need to know how argue,
negotiate, waffle, and disagree. I had also found that other
extant materials failed to bring students to a level of proficiency
where they could actually use the Radio Play materials, so there needed
to be more complex grammatical examples, and ways to express more
complex wants and desires.
In any event, these materials could be used if revised somewhat.
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Mon Apr 1 09:56:50 EST 1996