Chat with Aysha - Owner of "Tamil For Kids"

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Aysha Iqbal. I am the owner of ABCs of Tamil for Kids. You can find us at our website (www.tamil-for-kids.com), on Facebook and Instagram (@tamilforkids). My goal is to use this platform to make learning Tamil as simple as ABCs for children in Singapore and all around the world.



So far, we have been developing this website with a growing list of products, free learning segments within our blog, fun contests for parents and their children, tips for parents, and interesting reading material for everyone to learn from and enjoy.


When did your interest for Tamil start?

My interest for Tamil began when I was in secondary school. I was heavily involved in the activities organized by the Indian Cultural Society and Indian Orchestra in my school. The events that I’ve attended and participated in helped Tamil become a huge part of my life. In fact, I also opted to go out of my way and take Tamil Literature as a humanity subject for O-levels. It was one of the best experiences I had at that time.

I am glad to say that the passion I had for Tamil while in school has not diminished with time. I am always proud to see how the language has moulded Singapore into what it is today. And I am always stressing on the importance of doing everything we can to allow our language to thrive within Singapore all through time.


What motivated you to start “The ABCs of Tamil for Kids”?




I want Tamil to always play a huge role in Singapore’s growth and progress as a nation. When we were growing up, my peers and I frequently received compliments from the elders and teachers on our fluency in the Tamil language. Even people who were visiting from India praised us on how fluently and elegantly we spoke Tamil.

I did not want the standard of the Tamil language to ever decline among the young generation. I would love for the future generation to be equally fluent and comfortable with the Tamil language.

Children have to feel natural when speaking or writing in the language. That is my wish. However, after I graduated and entered the adult world, I saw that Tamil was becoming less of a norm among the millennials. They rarely talk in the language and the importance of Tamil was gradually decreasing in their lives. I had the fear that the upcoming generation may find Tamil unnatural and tough, and that they may not put in the effort to keep up with their mother tongue.

This was a sign of downfall for me. I did not want this to happen. I felt strongly that something had to be done about this. Thus, one of my first initiatives was to begin the movement called The ABCs of Tamil for Kids. Through this movement, I wanted to play an integral part in keeping the Tamil language stable amongst the children in the society. After all, one learns a language best when they are young children. It is never too early to start learning a language.


What do you aim to achieve through this movement?

I want these children to communicate in their mother tongue language when they are surrounded by their family and friends. Children are taught Tamil in schools, just like the English language. So why should Tamil be any harder for them to use than English? Now, I am not enforcing the idea that the children should only learn Tamil. My ultimate goal is for these children to understand the need of multiple languages in their lives.

This is the main reason behind why the ABCs of Tamil for Kids is bilingual in nature as well. I want them to understand how different languages are useful for various aspects of their lives. Tamil is part of their identity. It resembles who they are, their culture and their heritage. English is a language they would extensively use to learn, communicate with society, and much more. Thus, Tamil and English are equally important for a child to prosper and do well in their desired careers in any part of the world.

The entire idea behind this movement is for children to start learning Tamil at a young age and relate the language to their lives. They should speak and write in the Tamil language naturally; just the way they do in English. And we hope to be able to lend a hand in achieving this in every home.

What I also hope to achieve from Tamil for Kids, is to instill truly valuable character traits and the right moral values in our children – all while they learn. We are blessed with the many proverbs and saying from our ancestors that are still around – to help us learn the do’s and don’ts of life in a simple fashion. In simple terms, it could be instilled in children what they need to know to become better sons and daughters to their families, and better citizens within their society.

Teaching them the golden words of our forefathers at a young age helps this stick in their minds for years to come. Times may change but the relevance of their words wouldn’t diminish at all with these changing times.


What are the age groups of the children whom you are trying to reach out to through this movement?

As of now, we are targeting preschool children, kindergarten children, and lower primary students. My resources are primarily catered to children within these age groups. Children are able to better absorb information if it’s introduced to them at a younger age. Therefore, my initial focus is going to begin here. We would eventually come up with resources to help more primary school children improve their Tamil and perform better in school as well.

Young children need to enjoy the language and establish an interest for it. My goal is to start the interest of learning Tamil among children at a young age, so that as they grow older and step into primary school, they will be more confident of handling the subject. I hope that our resources will play a part in helping children get familiar with the language.

We are also using our resources to get children familiar with the basics of Tamil even before their first lesson in Primary School. By having a foundation laid even before they step into class, children would certainly be less overwhelmed and ready to handle everything they need to learn in class with ease. This would make Tamil less of a burden and struggle for them, as they would be able to conquer it from the first day.





How do you think the Tamil culture and fluency has changed among the current generation?

As mentioned earlier, the reason behind starting the ABCs of Tamil for Kids was because children were becoming less fluent in Tamil and not familiar with our culture. Fortunately, many more people seem to have also started realizing that the language is slowly declining among the Tamil community in Singapore. As a result, many exemplary programmes and events are being put to action to change the younger generation’s approach towards the Tamil language, culture, and identity. This is certainly a great initiative to see around us.






I see that these efforts have brought a change among the children. Parents are taking the effort to ensure that their children are well-versed in their mother tongue before facing it in school. There was a point where children had absolutely no clue on how to speak the language and found that they were struggling in schools. But now all that is changing for the better.

It is exciting to see that children are slowly getting back on track. The usage of the Tamil language and the exposure to our culture is gradually improving among the children. I truly hope that the progress continues in the long run.


What are some of the interactive ways children could adapt to in order to learn Tamil?

The key to learning Tamil, just like any other language, is to be exposed to it as much as possible. Children need to be more open to the idea of speaking, listening and reading in Tamil. The young children should be given ways to connect the Tamil language to their daily lives, so that they realise that it is a part of them.

There are many interactive ways to use and help learning Tamil become easier for your child. You could use storytelling sessions or any hands on activities that helps the child learn the language. A lot of such efforts are being taken in Singapore and I am glad to see that. Parents should take advantage of such efforts to help their children enjoy our language.

These stories don’t only bring the Tamil language to life, but also highlights our identity, cultural beliefs, traditions, morals, and so much more. These are qualities that we want in our children from a young age so they in turn make it a way of life as they grow older. Telling our children Tamil stories and more would do wonders to increase their appreciation and awe for our beautiful language.

We could also bring the children on excursions and ask them to name the items in their surrounding in Tamil. This will draw a relation between the language and their lives. The children will be able to learn how to name the objects they see in Tamil and this ultimately builds up on their vocabulary.

Children learn better when they feel that it is a part of them rather than as a choice or a compulsory subject. This is an essential point that parents should take note of. Using interactive methods makes learning a lot easier and less stressful for everyone.




How are the resources provided by you different from the resources available in schools?

My idea is not to replace the resources available in schools. I do, however, feel that the responsibility of teaching Tamil should not lie on the teachers alone. Children only get to spend a couple of hours per day or per week with their teachers. In order for the teachers’ efforts to be fruitful, parents have to play a crucial role in reinforcing the information taught in school to their child.

If that doesn’t happen, children might easily forget the content taught in class. I feel that the ABCs of Tamil for Kids come in handy for parents to find resources that they can use at home to supplement what their child has been learning at school.

The schools are doing a marvelous job in teaching the kids Tamil. Sometimes, I’m awed when I read articles on how the children are brought on outdoor activities to incorporate Tamil in their lives or how the culture is brought into the classroom through amazing activities. We should ensure that what our child learns here stays with our child, by doing some reinforcing and revising at home. Practice does make perfect, right?

Alongside the efforts taken by the school, I hope that the ABCs of Tamil for Kids’ resources are used to enforce the Tamil language, so that it stays with them for a very long time. Our resources, in all, provide a great means to get introduced to Tamil, make it fun, and remember what you have learned.


How does the resources of the ABCs of Tamil for Kids aid in a child’s Tamil learning process?

The resources provided at the ABCs of Tamil for Kids are mostly bilingual in nature. You can take a look at the current collection on our website at www.tamil-for-kids.com. Our goal is to help children see the connection they can make between Tamil and their everyday lives. We have a growing range of products that introduces and helps children master the letters in the Tamil alphabet, basic words, and more. These are considered to be the foundation for any language.

Our flashcard set, the 4D Siruvar Tamil Bilingual Tamil flashcards, comes with audio and visual components. This helps create an interactive way for the children to build up on their vocabulary. They can learn the names of simple objects around them in both Tamil and English. All while playing with their tablet or phone, along with the flashcards. I am humbled to say that children love these flashcards and parents appreciate how quickly their children are picking up the words and enjoying themselves.

We also feature workbooks, printables, and posters that would be great resources to introduce Tamil at home, and to ensure that they stay connected to Tamil at home and outside.



Children should not feel that Tamil is a burden. It should be a natural part of their lives. And I hope the resources at the ABCs of Tamil for Kids help achieve this in a fun and joyful manner.

The reason why we grew up loving Tamil is because we always enjoyed studying the language and we see it as a part of our lives. There was no pressure in learning Tamil and we did it wholeheartedly. I want the children of the current generation to feel the same way as well. Therefore, I try to make the resources as colourful and playful as possible to create a fun learning environment.


How can parents play a part in nurturing a child’s interest in the Tamil Language?

A child’s interest in the Tamil language will only stay on if they feel that it is not a burden. They need to start understanding the fact that it identifies them as a person and that it plays an integral role in their lives. Children should be given the space and exposure to learn the Tamil language. They should do it out of interest and not because they are forced to learn the subject. This is something important that parents should remember.

Something else parents should do is to expose their children to many cultural events and providing them with the opportunity to hear the language. Parents could start off in a simple way by speaking more Tamil when at home. The efforts put in by parents should be consistent, even if our busy lifestyle poses as a challenge.

Parents have their own jobs to tend to and they are always preoccupied with chores to do. As a result, sub consciously they tend to converse in English without realising the kind of impact it has on the child. Parents need to make a dedicated effort in making their children feel the presence of Tamil at home. For bedtime stories, parents can occasionally read to their children a Tamil book instead of the usual English storybooks. Put in some focus and consciously be sure to be regularly conversing in Tamil when talking to your children. Let them hear Tamil in the place they feel the safest – at home.

This helps the child hear the language more. Over time, as a child’s interest grows in the language, he/she will start remembering the words and will use it in their lives confidently. The language ultimately becomes a part of their lives and it will continue on for generations to come.

We hope as parents, you would join us in helping make Tamil truly as simple as ABC for your children.

We are now offering all readers a 20% discount when you use the code “GURUPROJECT”. This offer would be valid for only 4 months from the date of this publication. I hope that you would visit our website at www.tamil-for-kids.com, and join us on Instagram or Facebook. Thank You!





 

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