South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

Sankaran Radhakrishnan

Senior LecturerPh.D., Annamalai University

Sankaran Radhakrishnan



Courses taught:                                                                                                            Tamil language (alllevels)                                                                                                                           Modern and Classical Tamil and Tamil          literatures                                                                                                                     Cultural History: Cultural History of South India; Arts and Dances of South India            Topics in Tamil Language and Culture

UT Tamil Courses

Courses Offered

Fall: TAM 506, TAM 312K, TAM 320K

New in Fall 2010: "Arts and Dances of South India"

Spring: TAM 507, TAM 312L, TAM 320L

What you learn through the University of Texas at Austin Tamil courses?

Tamil is one of the classical languages of the world with rich literary and cultural traditions. Language and literatures of this society is significantly unique and thus studied and researched by native scholars and scholars from the West, Europe and other parts of the world for its vast heritage.

Four levels (Introductory, Intermediate, Advanced, and Classical) of Tamil are taught in the UT at Austin. Graduate level Tamil research programs on literatures (Ancient, Medieval, and Modern) like, Cankam literatures, Bhakti literatures, contemporary literatures, and on theater art, ancient grammar, etc., are available. Spoken, Modern Standard Written and Classical (literary) Tamil courses are taught. Translations of Cankam literatures by A K Ramanujan, Martha Selby, George Hart, Indra's translation, and others are also form part of graduate level courses.

Learning begins from the very beginning, from Tamil alphabets. Learning Tamil as second language makes interesting with different levels of adult learners with different cultural background. Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced levels are designed to make the learners to feel comfortable in their learning from the very beginning to the level of higher order skills. This development brings learners to achieve their academic/ professional goals or personal development or both. This platform helps the learners to acquire language skills to choose and work for their research interest.

First year (two semesters; TAM 506, TAM 507: each 5 Credit hours) of learning involves thorough learning of alphabets, writing and reading, and speaking. The learners begin to learn Tamil from literally from zero vocabularies. Hence, vocabulary development forms part of this level of learning as each vocabulary is culturally loaded and not just meaning of the word. Learning basic structures of Tamil and cultural differences are main focus of this level. Development of communicative competence and use of Tamil in normal, day-to-day life in controlled situations/specific contexts are aimed. The day-to-day standard spoken Tamil is introduced through content lessons in the form of conversation/dialogue. This pattern not only teaches the basic structures, but also develops communicative competence, besides enormous amount of cultures. However, the spoken/written dichotomy is brought to the learners at the end of the first year of learning because the second year learning will be in Modern Written Tamil and thus set foundation for second year of learning.

Modern Written Tamil course is also available for Introductory levels.

Second year (two semesters; TAM 312K, TAM 312L-each 3 Credit hours) of learning involves thorough practice on written/spoken Tamil in the beginning. The specially designed materials help the learners to understand and practice these differences very much. Since the learners already learnt spoken Tamil, now began to learn completely Modern Written Tamil and be able to often compare with Spoken Tamil. However, the conversions in the classroom will be in Spoken Tamil. Now the learners are allowed to think and prepared for their area of interest for their future academic/professional development. Learners get to show interest about literatures (classical and contemporary), arts (folk/modern theaters, dance, music, architecture,), politics and governments, religions, language development, use of Tamil in mass-media usage, science, judiciary etc. Learners will be taught to approach and understand Tamil poems (modern to medieval period). The learners will have complete knowledge of basic and complex structures and nature of Tamil language. Content learning begins well at this stage. More understanding of cultures forms part of the course that continued from the first year. Print and multimedia materials are used to support learning.

Third year (two semesters; TAM 320K, TAM 320L-each 3 Credit hours) of learning focuses on variety of topics. Introduction to the history of Tamil literatures/land helps the learners to feel the societies of different period and their rulers. Along with Modern Written Tamil, Literary Tamil is also introduced through poetic pieces from medieval and classical time literatures. More understanding and manipulation of all learned structures and grammars for effective language use like, creative writing, translation, discussions, and oration/speech/talk are focused. 'Pictorial learning' is also introduced for this purpose. More understanding of Tamil grammar at this level is seen. However, vocabulary development continues and new vocabularies (context sensitive, emotional words, etc.) are learnt. Content learning is very active at this stage. Learners are ready to choose specific area/topic for their academic goals/research. Learner of this level is in a position to understand differentiating Spoken, Modern Written, and Literary and Poetic usages of Tamil language. Stylistic variations are also brought before the learners through writings from various authors. Learners of this level will have more language proficiency and cultural understanding.

Fourth year Classical Tamil (grad. level) course helps to do research on old Tamil literatures and to know more about Tamil literatures and cultural heritage and social life of Tamils or any culture related topics. Students get involved reading and analyze Tamil literatures starting from Modern to Classical. They develop interest to know about, theology, comparative literatures, literary analysis, stylistic variations, histories (social, cultural, political-rulers and ruled, govt., politics), arts, etc., from the main and secondary sources. From here they begin to look and compare at language and literature, and language and cultures of South Asia and chose their topic for research. Any special interest on any theme or on any particular classical Tamil literature, Seminars are available. Graduate courses like Asian languages and cultures, Asian languages and literatures or any specific topic(s) of interest are also available.

Materials Available for Tamil Learning: (Sankaran Radhakrishnan)

  1. Tamil Script Learner's Manual 
  2. Tamil Pronunciation (CD) 
  3. Intermediate Tamil I & II (Book on Blackboard-Bb)
  4. Pictorial Learning (Bb)
  5. Intermediate Tamil: Reading Practice I & II, CD (Bb)

Tamil Script Learner's Manual

Cover of Tamil Script book

Copyright © 2002 by author, Sankaran Radhakrishnan

This is a revised version of 2001 Tamil Script Manual. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Author.

Documents below require Acrobat Reader.

For more details, please email the author.

Curriculum Vitae

Profile Pages