From centers to teach the language to literary and cultural events, NRI associations in the US are keen to preserve their mother tongue.

Children wearing traditional costumes are seem dancing on the floor where in telugu alphabet were decoratedPaatasala Website
Features Language Monday, December 28, 2020 - 12:24

Two years ago in 2018, Murali Krishna Chemuturi was flying to the United States of America to settle down with his son. The grandfather eagerly made extra space in his baggage to fit in all the Telugu textbooks of lower primary school. He wanted to go there and teach Telugu to his four grandchildren, aged between 7 to 10 years, who were born and brought up in Boston.

The proud grandfather says that now his grandchildren can not only write the Telugu alphabet but also speak, read and write Telugu words and small rhymes.

A lot of children in the NRI community struggle to speak their mother tongue and it's no different for the Telugu speaking diaspora. However, within the community in the USA, efforts are being made to preserve and promote the language at the individual and community level.

Many parents feel strongly that the children should be able to speak in the mother tongue, especially because they should be able to form a connection with their grandparents when they visit India.

Like Murali Krishna, several elders who have settled with their offspring abroad take efforts to make sure that Telugu is spoken at home. Many also read Telugu newspapers online to stay connected with the happenings in the motherland and keep in touch with the mother tongue.

“On and off, when we visit India, I get all the epics and holy books as well and make sure we are in touch with the language. We also read Telugu newspapers on the internet. We speak in Telugu in our homes and with fellow Telugu people in the community. We attend cultural functions too," adds Murali Krishna.

The Telugu Association of North America, popularly referred to as TANA, organises cultural and literary activities, including TANA child literature competition and TANA novel competition in Telugu. The residents' associations in various states also conduct poetry and book reading sessions, do book reviews and keep in touch with the Telugu literary world.

Speaking to TNM, Yash Bodduluri from TANA says, “Apart from the wide number of activities that we do for the welfare of the Telugu speaking community in North America, preservation of the Telugu language and promoting it is definitely of significance. In order to facilitate Telugu learning for NRI children, we have the Paatasala Institute, which teaches the language to the students, and we have been getting an amazing response from several people.”

According to the Paatasala website, the institute was first begun in the year 2013 in 10 centers by Telugu Times, the first global Telugu newspaper serving the NRI Telugu community in the USA. Telugu Times played a crucial role in supporting and spreading the awareness about Telugu culture through various media. 

The website further states that drawing a thought from its own tagline, 'ManaVaallu-ManaBaasha' (Our people, Our language), Telugu Times started Paatasala through an "easy and scientific" way of teaching Telugu to the children of NRIs. The curriculum mostly concentrates on speaking skills in the initial stages, as most parents want their children to at least speak in Telugu. And recently in the year 2020, in the month of January, TANA took over the ownership and management of Paatasala, and now has almost 42 centers across the USA.

Though most people in Paatasala join to gain a basic knowledge of Telugu, there are also several who can read and write in classical Telugu by the time they're finished. There is also a four-year course for learning the language in four levels.

Read: Nag Ashwin to Tharun Bhascker, 7 Telugu directors who studied abroad

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