Austin Tamil Sangam started a Tamil Palli pilot program around the auspicious Pongal festival of 2013. The pilot was intended to study the options available for teaching Tamil and to identify the best practices to teach Tamil to the kids of Tamil community in Austin, TX. The inauguration event was presided over by notable Tamil writer and TX resident, Dr. Singara Vadivel. Austin Tamil Palli pilot currently runs three experimental classes – Arumbu, Mottu, and Malar based on the age and grade level of the students. The Sunday classes are currently held in Cedar Park, TX.
The mission of Austin Tamil Palli is to provide an opportunity to the kids of Tamil community in Greater Austin area to sufficiently learn Tamil language to be able to understand, speak, read, and write Tamil. The goal is not to make the kids experts in Tamil language, but rather teach them enough to enable them a) to enjoy a conversation with grandparents and parents, b) to have a fun family time watching a Tamil movie with the whole family, c) to be able to manage getting around when they are in Tamil Nadu.
Austin Tamil Palli follows suit of a number of other successful Tamil schools around the United States such as Houston, Minnesota, and Atlanta. Representatives from the Austin Tamil Sangam visited the Houston Tamil School to review the curriculum and learn the best practices. ATS cordially acknowledges the unconditional cooperation and enthusiastic support offered by every member of the Houston Tamil School, in particular by Mr. Karu. Manichavasagam. We intend to model Austin Tamil Palli after the successfully run Houston Tamil School.
High school curriculum in USA involves a second language, which in most locations may be languages such as Spanish, French, or Chinese. Tamil is not one of the accredited languages in TX. This led our decision to choose a curriculum that has the most possibility of getting accredited as an official second language. We have chosen American Tamil Academy (ATA – http://www.amtaac.org) curriculum to offer the best possible value to our kids. ATA is a nonprofit corporation founded for Tamil language education and other closely allied purposes. ATA coordinates Tamil schools being run in USA, create online and print resources for learning Tamil language, and spearhead efforts to get state level accreditation for school credits. ATA’s unified curriculum allows the students to easily transfer to another ATA curriculum based Tamil school across the USA.
The Tamil speaking community in Austin, TX is growing at a rapid pace and we want these children to have the opportunity to learn the language that their parents and family spoke at home and love eternally. Being a multilingual has several advantages that extend beyond linguistic knowledge. It has substantial cognitive, social, personal, academic, economic, and professional benefits that have been well documented. We believe that this effort will go a long way in stimulating children’s brains and achieving the benefits listed above.