Teaching Telugu to Kids : Simplify – Part II

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This posted originally as a resposne to a comment received for Part I

Publishing this as a full page blog for better readability and further dialogue.

I would like to encourage those involved in curriculum development to treat language as just like any othe product without emotions or dogma. You want to package and deliver language product for acceptance, adoption and appreciation. The ultimate judge is the audience. If students are shunning Telugu for French or other languages then it only means current version of the product is not liked by the audience. So we have to improvise by taking out some and adding some.

Steve Jobs, as we all know, is a master at delivering products that users like. Fundamental parts of his product approach are the ‘Zen’ and ‘Ma’ principles both of which essentially mean – keep it simple.

In the vein of Steve Job’s simplicity mantra, some ideas and guidelines to simplify teaching of Telugu for casual language learning:

  1. Avoid using works that are Sanskrit copies and are word-for-word transcriptions
  2. Focus on accha Telugu material of recent past perhaps time bound by 200 years
  3. Avoid poetry /padyams until 10th grade
  4. Avoid chandas until student takes the BA track
  5. Remove alphabet (vattulu etc) not used in spoken and vernacular Telugu. Particularly ones created for let-us-copy-Sanskrit excercise. Reserve such things for BA, MA, MPhil type of advanced tracks

For example, avoid teaching things like ‘Jhari Jhashamu Kamathamu’. Apparently it is part of entry level Manabadi content. It doesn’t appear to be Telugu. So why teach such words?

Curriculum designers could ask themselves these questions as there might lay solution for the simplification:

  1. What are we trying to teach to kids? Telugu or Sanskrit?
  2. How could a product specialist like Steve Jobs might design the curriculum?
  3. How much do we want to teach kids who may have at most 2-4 hour per week?
  4. Can we keep the student interested in the curriculum?
  5. What content from recent times we can interleave into teaching?
  6. Can we use English to explain Telugu creatively?

May be create Chinna Balashiksha that gives basic alphabet, few stories, indian astrology and such. And keep it updated each year or two to use new content.

Vemana satakams is a good original Telugu work unlike the works of Nannaya, Tikkana and others. There is no doubt about it. But why teach something that is so old and perhaps not relevant any more? S

Gangi govu paalu garitadainanu chaalu….గంగి గోవు పాలు గరిటడైనను చాలు
Kadivedainanemi kharamu paalu…………కడివెడైననేమి ఖరము పాలు
Bhakti kalugu koodu pattedainanu chaalu. భక్తి కలుగు కూడు పట్టెడైనను చాలు

Using gaadida paalu perhaps was in vogue during Vemana’s time. I doubt any one uses gaadida paalu nowadays. So why bother teach this satakam?

Another one:
Uppu Kappurambu nokka polika nundu ………ఉప్పు కప్పురంబు నొక్క పోలిక నుండు
Chooda chooda ruchulu jaada veru ………..చూడ చూడ రుచుల జాడ వేరు
Purushulandu Punya purushulu veraya ……..ఫురుషులందు ఫుణ్య పురుషులు వేరయ

How many kids are going to know about karpuram? How many further will think of eating to taste it? This is a simple satakams that states the obvious –we are alike but there are great people amongst us – Einstein, Steve Jobs, Ganta Saala, Sri Sri, Annamacharya, Thyagaraja, Bala Muralikrishna,Bhimshen Joshi,…. .

Overall, Vemana satakams is great for some of us looking at history from research angle. But for kids we can use simpler, lighter, easier and relevant content that they can connect with and. more importantly, feel excited about.

Also, encourage all involved in Telugu elementary and highschool level curriculum development to re-think on using religious accha Telugu works for teaching as they are very good material to introduce vocabulary. There is non-religious aspect in many of them. Emi seetura linga is a perfect example for expressionalism (bhava kavitvam). It explains how difficult it is to get impure water, milk and flowers. There is science and nature included in the poem. It is a gem and perfect instrument to use. Students learn new words like komma, tummeda, engli. Hats off to whoever composed this. I didn’t know this song until a year ago when I watched M, Balamuralikrishna perform this at his facilitation function in Vijaywaada in 2010. As I listened to this numerous times subsequently I couldn’t but marvel at the simplicity of thought and choice of objects used by the author. We could use works like this very creatively. For instance, relate this to our flight to get uncontaminated water, organic milk, and organic vegetables and flowers.


Written by ellanti

December 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm

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