I've finally got some time for myself over the summer. I will be going on a trip for a few months, but the week I have until then and the weeks I have left in my vacation time after the trip should be enough to get done (or nearly done) with the main content of the lessons.
Corrections: I need to go back and redo some things. The weak verbs are only classes 1-4, not 1-5 as mistakenly put here. But since so few verbs are in class 5, I hope this won't affect you too much. In any case, sorry about this. The verb போ is a class 3 verb (but it still is irregular). Something has to be done about class 5 verbs. Once I fix this, then my mind will be clear and I can finsih off with the rest of the lessons.
Hopefully, A Tamil Prose Reader by Asher and Radhakrishnan will be back in print and available. The editor in charge of the book at the Cambridge Unviersity Press informed me:
We are considering putting this book back into print, but the next batch of reissues will not be finalized until later this year. Please check our web site during the autumn/winter for updates on this.
Words that appear in bold green will eventually becomes links to a glossary in a popup window. Each link will point to the exact position of the word's definition. I think that it would be quite efficient for learning new words. But as tedious as it is, I will leave the green links as not-working until more important things are finished first.
Exercises are vital. They give an outlet for practice, and they help give a sense of understanding of how things are used. Good exercises require a lot of time to write, so that will have to come later, too.
I try to minimize the total size of everything without compromising too much in terms of appearance or ease of use. This is for people who might view the pages in other countries. Putting everything in PDF format will help people who use computers w/o windows or who use different browsers. The sounds are in Real Player format because they are much smaller than they otherwise would've been.
I split up lessons into chapters because that is how textbooks are organized. The lessons are numbered sequentially so that there is no confusion as to whether something is the 1st lesson of chapter 1 or the first lesson of chapter 11. In my mind, lessons have 3 categories. Either they deal with verbs, nouns, or other words/grammar. The lesson order tries to vary how lessons of verbs and nouns are spread out. Each chapter is organized to be progressively harder than the previous chapter. (It is unavoidable that some things are harder than others to learn.) Of course, I try to put things like "adding suffixes" before lessons that use suffixes extensively. I try to put the most info in chapter 1 without learning too much that you have to relearn it in later chapters. I split up the chapters because I thought that there is a jump in the difficulty between the information in one part and the next part.
The only prerequisite for my textbook is that you can read, write, and speak the alphabet well. This should not be hard to learn -- many 5 yr. olds can do it, so you can too.
This is a very crude guideline to what can be expected of kids (only in my opinion):
I don't teach much vocabulary partly because a CD called TamilBook 2000 already does this. However, this is a good resource for kids of all ages, but especially for those up to 11 year old.
I teach a lot of grammar in this textbook because I think that grammar is what it takes to learn language. If you want to learn a lot of words, then take a look at a CD called TamilBook 2000. You will have a hard time learning from someone whose first language is Tamil, because they did not learn grammar. To them, things in the Tamil language work "just because". Many people believe that just by hearing Tamil, you will be able to speak Tamil. I believe that this is a common misconception. Although some kids have the ability to understand Tamil, they do not know why a sentence means what it does. Therefore, they cannot form a Tamil sentence on their own. (Many Tamil kids in America are proof to this fact.) In order to truly understand the mechanics of a sentence, one must know grammar. Any decent foreign language textbook will devote a fair amount of space to the grammar of the language, and this textbook will be no different.
The grammar presented has been organized and accepted for a while. I used 2 books: A Tamil Reader and Grammar (by Lindholm and Paramasivam) and Tamil for Beginners (by Hart and Hart). They both teach the same thing because Tamil is the same and has been the same for a long time. Tamil grammar has remained the same, probably for 3000 yrs, maybe more. (Also, many of the words that were used a long time ago are still used today, making Tamil a living ancient language. Tamil is still spoken the same way it was spoken a long time ago. I don't think any other language can claim that. Not Chinese, not Latin, not Sanskrit, not Greek, not Hebrew.) The way I figure, the Tamil grammar will remain the same, but a textbook's effectiveness comes from the way it presents this information. By writing this textbook, I'm trying to improve on the logical progression and the readability/usability of existing learning resources. I don't have a lot of linguistic commentary, because that isn't important to me. What is important is presenting all the necessary information along with pertinent sidenotes. I hope & expect things are self-explanatory through the boxes of grammar info and examples and text.
I think there is a pattern to the way textbooks are written for foreign languages like German, Spanish, French, etc. In fact, I model the layout and organization of this textbook based on my experiences with my German textbooks from high school. All languages have their elements of verb grammar, noun grammar, and idiomatic expressions. Tamil is no different (perhaps easier than most other languages). Therefore I feel that Tamil deserves a textbook that is comparable in quality to any European-language textbook.
I suppose my last reason for writing this textbook, and perhaps my strongest motivating factor, is that I wished I had a good resource by which to learn Tamil at an earlier age. I was 13 when I first started learning German. At the time, I completely enjoyed the whole notion of thinking in a new language, which was new to me. I contend that if I only had a good Tamil textbook, then I would have gladly picked up Tamil , too, at the same time. So now I write this, 5 years later, with the hope that kids will no longer suffer through not knowing Tamil the way I did for so long.
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