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SciTech Now, Learn Indian Languages Via IPods And IPhones


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Language learning has just gotten better. In an instance of technology usefully deployed for the cause of culture, a non-resident Indian from the U.S. has designed a user-friendly language-learning application for mobile devices, intended primarily for the offspring of the Indian diaspora.

Sreekanth Chintala, a Database Technology Strategist from Austin, Texas, U.S., conceptualised and designed the application for 11 Indian languages — Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi and Sanskrit. Version-I of the application has been test released into the market for the first seven languages. It can be run on Apple iPods and iPhones, and tests are under way to release it for Android devices too. Five versions will be released with each sequentially adding up to the proficiency levels of the learner.

Even before the official release scheduled for November, the application has been downloaded by 1,500 Indians in over 30 countries, says Mr. Sreekanth. The concept emerged from his discontent at not being able to teach his mother tongue to his children. They understood Telugu, but replied only in English. Mr. Sreekanth's concern shared by many parents from the Indian community who were not very pleased with their children's reading-writing abilities in their respective mother tongues. Applications already available in the market were rudimentary, and not customised to teach this group of children.

“Language is fundamental to any culture, and to lose it, is to lose cultural moorings. Here the children are out of the cultural mainstream and parents are too busy to teach them. This is the reason I decided to make learning of the mother tongue interesting for children,” Mr. Sreekanth says.

The first version of this audio-visual application is designed to teach the alphabet and has two sections - Learning and Testing. The curriculum comprises transliteration, phonetics, examples in English, alphabet, writing and tracing of the alphabet, use of symbols and their positions. Testing constitutes identifying letters through the phonetic sounds and vice versa. One interesting aspect is the provision for tracing the alphabet through the touch-screen, a simulation of the age-old chalk-on-the-slate experience. The combination of vowels with consonants to produce various sounds too is explained logically. For this, Mr. Sreekanth took the help of friends, and language schools too.

The application is available worldwide in the Apple stores at an introductory price of 99 cents. A trial version can be downloaded free of cost from the online iTunes store or via www.aimkara.com.



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