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Local lessons to encourage greater participation
People in Wyndham and surrounds can now take part in Hindi language classes in their local area thanks to the efforts of Western Suburban Indian Languages group (WSIL). The community group, led by Dr Ritesh Chugh, was formed in September 2015 to promote Indian languages in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
It is projected that over the next decade India will become a leading economy in Asia and the world. The corporate world is increasingly outsourcing and expanding businesses to India, and it is one of Australia’s largest trading partners and a major export market for mining and agricultural products.
Learning how to communicate with people in India in one of the national languages will benefit many. Hindi also features among the four ‘priority’ Asian languages in Australia.
“I strongly feel that learning Hindi will have many advantages; whether it is to connect our children to their roots, develop proficiency in their heritage language or further a deep bond with Multicultural Australia,’’ Dr Chugh said.
The senior lecturer in ICT spent many months lobbying for the introduction of Hindi classes for children through the Victorian School of Languages (VSL). Established in 1935, the VSL currently offers over 40 languages, via distance learning and face to face classes, to students who are unable to access those language programs in their mainstream schools.
At pre-approval stage, Dr Chugh was asked by VSL to collect data from parents of potential students to gauge their interest in enrolling their children. A survey was conducted and Dr Chugh received a considerable number of expressions of interest. As a result, VSL agreed to hold classes in Suzanne Cory School in Werribee. The classes currently operate on Saturday between 9am and 12.20pm.
According to Dr Chugh, Wyndham City has experienced the largest and fastest growth of all local government areas in Victoria, Australia. Data from the 2011 Census indicates around 3,309 Hindi speaking residents live in Wyndham.
“Over the past four years there has been a dramatic population increase in the Wyndham area, which would also indicate an upward trend for the Hindi speaking population,” Dr Chugh said. “These figures indicate a need for Hindi language classes to be made available in the Wyndham area.”
“I got involved in this mainly because I wanted my children to learn Hindi language and the closest classes that were available in this area were held in Sunshine, which is a fair distance from Tarneit where I live,” Dr Chugh said when asked what prompted this initiative.
If this initiative is successful Dr Chugh and WSIL has indicated plans to approach schools to embed Hindi in their curriculum and to make it available to students as a Language other than English (LOTE).
Dr Chugh believes the interest in learning Hindi will only grow with the burgeoning population of people from Indian origin living in Melbourne. People from non-Hindi speaking backgrounds may also be motivated to learn the language out of interest in the culture, for better business communication, job prospects or if they are planning to travel to India.