The Status of Tamil Language Study in the United States
Throughout the United States, we have over 30,000 youngsters studying spoken and written Tamil. Our children participate in heritage schools and are taught the language and culture by devoted and interested community volunteers. Approximately 300 independently run non-profit Tamil schools use various syllabi from the American Tamil Academy (ATA), International Tamil Academy (ITA), MNTS Tamil School, syllabi from Singapore and Tamil Nadu, Tamil Virtual Academy (TVA) or other indigenous syllabi.
US universities like UC Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Columbia University, Chicago University, University of Texas (Austin) have programs in Tamil studies and provide instruction in language and culture for undergrads.
While there are more than 40 accredited Tamil language schools in US, 39 states with approved Bilingual Seal of Literacy, and some of the schools in California, Texas and Virginia grant high school credits for the study of Tamil, we continually strive to increase these numbers.
About Tamil Standards
Students learn Tamil from kindergarten through the high school years during weekends and evenings. For all their consistent efforts in acquiring language proficiency as heritage learners, students do not have a universal path to gain school credits. The Tamil National standards will help guide instruction by delineating and clarifying for our schools, teachers, parents, and students the various proficiency levels in the study of Tamil. Having bilingual Seal legislation in 39 states, our goal is to have a national standard and standardized assessments in Tamil, thereby enabling all our students to earn high school credits.
The American Tamil Teachers Association (ATTA) has been working since January 2018 by collaborating with many senior teachers all over the US to prepare the blueprint for the Tamil Standards. Our committee focused on Novice Low/Mid/High, Intermediate Low/Mid/High and Advanced Low, as these levels cover the maximum levels of proficiency of our K-12 students.
The standards for the Advanced Mid/High, Superior and Distinguished levels will be incorporated soon with the involvement of university Tamil lecturers and preceptors across US universities.
We are planning to have community information and feedback sessions covering the Tamil standards for the below proficiency levels between April and June 2021.
Novice Info Sessions – 4 (LSRW)
Intermediate Info Sessions – 6 (Low/Mid/High)
Advance Low Info Sessions – 2