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National workshop commemorates 30 years of Hindi in Australia

Thornbury, July 22: The second National workshop on Hindi, sponsored by the Victorian School of Languages was held in Melbourne today.

The workshop was opened by Ms. Manika Jain, Consul General of India in Melbourne. Coinciding with the completion of 30 years of the opening of the first centre for teaching Hindi in Brunswick, the Hindi workshop celebrated prevalence of Hindi in Australia.

Frank Merlino, Principal, VSL; Dr. Peter Friedlander, Senior Hindi Lecturer, ANU and Ms. Manika Jain, Consul General of India in Melbourne at the workshop.
Frank Merlino, Principal, VSL; Dr. Peter Friedlander, Senior Hindi Lecturer, ANU and Ms. Manika Jain, Consul General of India in Melbourne at the workshop.

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.

Mrs. 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.

In another presentation by Mrs 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.

Mrs 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.

In the ‘secondary and beyond’ session, Frank Merlino, Principal of the Victorian School of Languages outlined the role of VSL in promoting Hindi. VSL is now embarking on a plan to develop teaching of Hindi through distance education.

Mrs Mala Mehta, OAM, honorary founder and coordinator of IABBV Hindi School in Sydney later described the role and activities undertaken by her school. Her video presentation of her students’re-enactment of Gandhi ji’s Dandi March was much appreciated by the audience.

Mrs Amita Malhotra and Mrs Kulwinder Kaur, Hindi teachers in Sydney presented activity based examples of teaching Hindi and outlined the ‘smartboard’ software in preparing interactive lessons for students.

Later, Mrs Amita Malhotra and Mrs Manjeet Thethi, Hindi teacher at the Blackburn and Glen Waverly centres of VSL described strategies of teaching Hindi to Senior secondary students.

Dr. Peter Friedlander talking about Hindi at tertiary level, described Hindi courses at ANU, Canberra and the upheaval that the recent review of ANU courses has caused. Dr. Ian Woolford, Lecturer in Hindi at Latrobe University in Melbourne, charted Hindi course offerings at the Latrobe University and expressed a hope that additional faculty members, specialising in South Asian History and politics to join Latrobe Uni.

Mrs Rekha Rajvanshi, Hindi Tutor at the Centre for Continuing Education of Sydney University ran an interesting group workshop on the use of poetry in teaching Hindi.

Victorian Hindi techers Gurcharan Kaur, Anushree Jain, Manjeet Thehti and Manoj Mishra at the workshop.
Victorian Hindi techers Gurcharan Kaur, Anushree Jain, Manjeet Thehti and Manoj Mishra at the workshop.

After lunch sessions dealt with Hindi in media, culture, art and literature in Australia presented by Dr. Dinesh Srivastava – Print Media; Dr. Subhash Sharma – Sahitya Sandhya – Melbourne Literary Scene; Harihar Jha – Getting Published; Dr. Nalin Sharda – Poetry and Hindi Cinema; Vipin Gaindhar – Theatre and Radio and Mrs Anita Barar – paintings, theatre and radio.

Dr. Peter Friedlander ended the day with focus on research and future plans for Hindi, speaking about a global research project involving academics in Singapore and Australia to investigate why people chose to study Hindi in different countries.

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 9 and includes metropolitan as well as country areas. Every year approximately 500 students study Hindi at these centres.

First National workshop on the subject of Hindi in Australia was held at the Australian National University in Canberra in July, 2015.

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