Foreign language teachers in the Capital have a grouse. There is no cultural curiosity, the students have a lala attitude to learning and are only interested in the ‘returns’.
“The attitude is, I have paid Rs 6000 for the course, now I really need my certificate,” says Seema Chari, a teacher at the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre.
“Who is Mozart?” When Shyama Paul, a German teacher, asked her students, she was told “it’s a ringtone.” “It is rare to have a student who has come to learn the language because they want to read Dante or see a Fellini in the original,” adds Chari. “The institute runs films with subtitles but who sees them? Our students say they are full of nudes and they see no cinematic merit in them.”
Eighty per cent of foreign language students learn the language to talk to their foreign bosses, hope to be stationed abroad or with an eye to one’s CV, it looks good to have it say one part of the MBA was done in Italy or France.
As Kaveri Nandan, who teaches Chinese, says, “The returns are part of the lure for a language degree. Chinese easily pays Rs 2-3 per word against Re 1 for European languages. Why be emotional about it?” Language, films, books, fashion have all become goods that are items of exchange at the marketplace. It’s all for sale.