« Uraiyaadal | உரையாடல் : On Tamil and language learning in general » by Dominic Ester

Uraiyaadal – உரையாடல் –  is a Tamil word meaning conversation.

I’m a student from the UK and have been learning Tamil for just over a year, first in London and now in Sri Lanka. The experience of studying a language outside the classroom has made me rethink the problems I faced while completing an undergraduate language degree a few years ago. Now at an intermediate level, I want to share my thoughts and start a conversation about Tamil and language learning in general.

Recently I have also been inspired by autodidact polyglot Benny Lewis, whose blog I would recommend to everyone. I share with him the belief that we are held back not just by the way in which we learn languages, but by the way we think about learning languages. These questions are especially important for those who are trying to learn languages for which few materials and formal training are available.

The blog won’t be a dry, A-Z list of cases, tenses and conjunctions. Instead it will draw on personal experience to bring together a range of different topics – practical, motivational, etymological, grammatical – which I hope will spark people’s interest and get them thinking about the differences and similarities between Tamil and English.

The idea of conversation is doubly important because I want to foreground spoken forms of Tamil. These are often neglected in Tamil teaching, but are crucial for learners who actually want to participate in everyday life!

I’m most familiar with the Tamil spoken in Jaffna, and it’s inevitable that my posts will reflect this. But Uraiyaadal is intended as an interactive space where we can build a fuller picture of all the varieties of Tamil in use. In that spirit I encourage those who speak or are learning other kinds of Tamil – Sri Lankan, Indian or otherwise – to comment wherever they can. Please also feel free to email me feedback or suggestions for topics worth covering.

Being based in Sri Lanka, I hope that Sinhala speakers learning Tamil will gain something from the blog. Unfortunately my knowledge of Sinhala is too limited to offer anything other than basic comparisons, so if you speak Sinhala please feel free to contribute. In the future I plan to set up a guest post system to properly engage with this and other issues.

Otherwise, study well and good luck!

link to the blog: http://uraiyaadal.wordpress.com/


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