The first national workshop on the subject of Hindi in Australia was held last July at the Australian National University in Canberra. The second National workshop on this subject, sponsored by the Victorian School of Languages was held this year in Melbourne on Friday, 22 July.
The workshop was inaugurated by Manika Jain, Consul General of India in Melbourne. Dr Peter Friedlander, Senior Lecturer in Hindi at the Australian national University in Canberra, welcomed the participants and spoke about the link between language and culture and importance of learning Hindi language.
This was followed by short presentations in the session dealing with teaching Hindi at the primary level. In this session, Aparna Kumar, who teaches Hindi at the Sunshine centre of VSL presented some of the teaching strategies that she has found useful in her classes and described her approach to teaching Hindi. This was followed by a presentation by Anushree Jain, Hindi teacher at Blackburn centre of VSL and author of two textbooks in Hindi for primary level students. She presented some of the challenges in teaching mixed ability students and described some of the teaching resources that she has developed. Pooja Verma, Hindi teacher at the Rangebank Primary School presented examples of materials that she has developed for teaching Hindi to students of non-Indian origin.
The second session titled: ‘secondary and beyond’ began with a speech by Frank Merlino, the Principal of the Victorian School of Languages, who described the role of VSL in promoting Hindi and announced that VSL is embarking on a plan to develop teaching of Hindi through distance education. This was followed by presentation by Mala Mehta, OAM, honorary founder and coordinator of IABBV Hindi School in Sydney, who briefly described the role and activities undertaken by her school and showed a video-clip about of the re-enactment of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March by her students. It was much appreciated by the audience.
The final session was on research and future plans. In this session, Dr. Peter Friedlander spoke about a global research project involving academics in Singapore and Australia to investigate why do people choose to study Hindi in different countries. During the workshop, several Hindi books written by authors residing in Australia and those published by the VSL were displayed.
VSL completes 30 years of teaching Hindi
The first Victorian School of Languages centre for teaching Hindi was opened in Brunswick 30 years ago. This occasion was celebrated at the second National workshop on 22 July. Dr. Dinesh Srivastava, whose efforts led to the establishment of the first centre for teaching Hindi at VSL (then Saturday School of Languages) did the honours by cutting the 30th anniversary cake. It is noteworthy that the number of centres teaching Hindi at VSL has grown since then to nine and includes metropolitan as well as country areas. Every year approximately 500 students study Hindi at these centres.