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Offbeat language courses at Jamia Millia Islamia are a hit
Wednesday May 14, 2014 10:15 AM, Mohd Asim Khan, IANS

It's one thing wanting to learn a foreign language like French, German, Portuguese, Japanese or Italian. How about Pashto, Kazhaki, Turkmenin or Uzbek to take advantage of the booming medical tourism? The Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) here shows you the way.

Jamia Millia Language Courses

The university has been offering certificate and diploma courses in the Central Asian languages, apart from Turkish and Chinese, and there is no dearth of takers.

The university also offers certificate and diploma courses in several European languages including French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Pashto is quite in demand here. "We have 20 plus seats for Pashto and all of them are usually filled. We offer certificate, diploma and advanced diploma in Pashto and Persian languages," said Iraq Raza Zaidi, head of the Persian department at Jamia Millia Islamia.

"Many students who learn Pashto and Persian work as interpreters in hospitals here that are receiving an increasing number of patients from Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries," Zaidi told IANS.

The enthusiasm for the Kazhaki and Turkmenin languages is, however, not too high.

But again, there is always a demand for Uzbek language. "People learn Uzbek language to help them in trade and tourism. We have 25 seats for the certificate course and receive sufficient number of applications," said T.C.A. Rangachari, director of JMI's academy of international studies.

The language most in demand, however, is Chinese, Rangachari added. This is thanks to India's booming trade with China.

On an average, the academy receives around 100 applications for 25-plus seats. "This year we have increased the number of seats to 30," Rangachari told IANS.

Unlike many other languages where teaching hours are limited to 4-5 hours per week, the Chinese course is quite intensive, with students attending classes for four hours every day on an average.

"Our specialty is that we teach the original Chinese language that is still used in Taiwan. We have specially hired a teacher from Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University," Rangachari said.

The original Chinese slightly differs in script from the language currently being used in mainland China.

"It easier to move to mainland language from the original Chinese but difficult the other way around. So we teach original Chinese," Rangachari pointed out.

Though the faculty wants some students to go for higher studies in the respective language after completing their advance diploma courses - so that they can come into the academics - very few do so.

"They start earning money working as translators and interpreters and stick to it. It's their choice after all," Zaidi said.

The application forms for these courses are already out and the last date for manual submission of applications is May 15.

(Mohd Asim Khan can be contacted at

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