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Home / Brunch / Social media star of the week: Eli Kutty

Social media star of the week: Eli Kutty

Meet Elizabeth Keyton, the American teacher who’s been learning (and, invariably teaching) Malayalam on Instagram

brunch Updated: Nov 01, 2020, 07:08 IST
Shruti Nair
Shruti Nair
Hindustan Times
Elizabeth Keyton, is an English language teacher from Georgia, USA
Elizabeth Keyton, is an English language teacher from Georgia, USA

Elizabeth Keyton, better known as Eli Kutty, a name her best friend gave her as a joke, an English teacher from the US, has been taking Instagram by storm, one Malayalam lesson at a time. The latest one being not only in the language, but also in love.

“I’ve tried to pick up local languages from most places I’ve lived in, whether it was Korean, Japanese or eventually, Malayalam. It’s my way of building bridges, which is also the crux of the latest Instagram series called ‘Nyangale pole’, meaning just like us,” she says.

With her Malayali husband Arjun Kandanat at their wedding
With her Malayali husband Arjun Kandanat at their wedding

Few-found love

Eli has a community of 38.2k people on Instagram. But where and why did she want to learn this specific South Indian language? Well, it’s partly because Eli married a Malayali. “Plus, when I was touring Kerala last summer, I wanted to be able to interact freely with people and understand the diversity from the northernmost part of the state to the southern tip, which would only be possible if I knew the language,” she says.

“It’s fun to learn on the Internet with so many people contributing to it!” —Elizabeth Keyton

Language lessons

Malayalam is often considered one of the toughest Indian languages to not only speak, but read and write. “So is Mandarin but people do learn it anyway,” shrugs Eli. “I started with online lessons and slowly began self-study.” After a lot of research and some help from a linguist, today, Eli Kutty’s Instagram is a huge learning resource for Malayalam. “I reverse engineered it while learning. My comprehension is still low but it’s fun to learn on the Internet with so many people contributing to it,” she says. “My intention is to portray Kerala as it is by focusing on the diaspora. My platform is to elevate the experts and the language.”

What does the future hold? “I hope to work on some publications so more people have access to the resources. My YouTube is monetised but that is not a great deal of money, which is fine because I have a full time job,” she says.

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Who should be the next HT Brunch Social Media Star Of The Week? Nominate using the hashtag #BrunchSocialMediaStarOTW or email htbrunch@hindustantimes.com

From HT Brunch, November 1, 2020

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