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Home > News > PTI

More Americans learning Indian languages

September 25, 2006 11:24 IST

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If the professional courses pull more Indian students to United States, Indian languages and its rich culture have become favoured areas of studies for Americans.

The trend of American students coming to India to study Indian languages is on the rise, academicians say. There are 208 American students for this academic year pursuing studies in 12 Indian languages.

These languages are Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Punjabi, Oriya, Sanskrit, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali and Kannada, says Pradeep Mehendiratta of American Institute of Indian Studies at Gurgaon.

"American students take an interest in studying Indian languages. They use the languages for doing research work in India or teach in the US. Many want to do foreign service in US, while a large number of students are interested in doing journalism in South Asian countries," Mehendiratta says.

The AIIS, which has been offering language studies since 1962, has been witnessing a steady rise in students. From 50 students in language studies in 2001-02, the number increased to 84 in 2003-04 and to 64 in 2004-05.

Another reason for Americans coming to India for study is the growing Indian economy and India's position as a global power, he says.

"Most of the students, after their language studies, pursue research work, which pertains to Indian culture, heritage, archeology, social sciences and humanities," he says.

Noted linguist Prof Omkar N Kaul, also the editor of South Asian Language Review, attributes the trend to academic requirements and the fascination of the people of Indian origin to learn their own languages.

"As per the academic requirements, American students need to pursue studies in two foreign languages. They come here to meet that criteria," he says. "There are a lot of NRIs, who want their kids to come to India and pursue language studies." 

Besides, the Americans are looking for job opportunities in South Asia for which language studies would be of immense help, he says.

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