Fluency in a language requires immersion. You can't learn Sanskrit sitting in classroom if no one around you speaks it. You need constant exposure and hundreds upon hundreds of hours of listening time. Sanskrit is a dead language for a reason. You cannot just revive it for over a billion people out of thin air, no matter how badly you want to wax nostalgic over some imaginary glorious past.

Smriti Irani – Classroom Sanskrit is Useless

Does Smriti Imrani really think that you can become fluent in a language by formally studying it in a classroom without real world exposure? If only it was so simple! Millions of us have studied languages in school – Sanskrit, French, Tamil, German, etc. Have we become fluent in them without immersion in the region or country?

I’ve been learning French for two years now. I have put my heart and soul into it. 6 months in Alliance Francais before coming to the US. I have around 5-6 French books on my Kindle, and have stacks of French comics sitting next to me. I watch French movies and most of all, I talk to myself in French almost constantly. I have been doing this for 2 whole years.

In addition, on Tuesdays and Fridays I speak to my French friend in Paris who’s trying to improve her English. We speak for half an hour in French and half an hour in English. That’s solid one on one speaking practice with a 100% french native twice a week.

Whenever I see or hear a french person on the streets, I hurry to speak to them and exchange a few sentences. In Chennai, I used to hang around a bakery called Cakewalk near my house because I knew that french students came there often. I would strike up conversations with them in supermarkets, and on the road. In short, I have done everything humanely possible to learn French and speak it to the best of my ability.

I still don’t consider myself fluent.

Next week, Anupa and I leave for France. We’re going to Paris, Nice, and Lyon. This will be the first time I’m going to a country where everyone speaks french. And I expect it to be tough. I’m taking it as an invaluable learning opportunity and intend to fully make use of the experience. I will speak nothing but french for three whole weeks other than to Anupa and her mom. But I have no illusions about carrying on detailed philosophical and political conversations at full speed with french natives.

French people recognize my level and tailor their speech to me. Just like I would do with someone who doesn’t speak English well. This way I improve bit by bit. Slowly by slowly.

And so when I hear people saying “Teach Sanskrit in schools!”, I have to laugh. One does not become fluent in a language by learning it dryly in classrooms. Alliance Francais does its best by forbidding the usage of English entirely. The entire session is in french. How many of our Sanskrit teachers themselves can do that? They have simply mugged up the rules of grammar. But I BET – if I were to ask them to say a simple phrase like “Damn, it’s hot! And I need to pee.” in Sanskrit, they would be left fumbling!

Smiriti Imrani is an imbecile if she thinks everyone is going to suddenly start speaking Sanskrit after learning it in schools or colleges. Without immersion. Without resources like comics, audio, videos, and nursery rhymes. Without comprehensively surrounding themselves with Sanskrit, NO ONE is going to learn this dead language. We don’t have the teachers, or the base speakers.

And most of all, you need motivation. I put everything I had into french. I really wanted to learn it. It’s not as if every student in Alliance Francais is fluent simply because they’re sitting in the class – and that too a class that they have chosen!. Forget about those who are forced to attend them. No way. Not a bloody chance in hell.

In fact, Smriti Irani needs to practice what she preaches. All of them…all these guys waxing eloquent about how the country needs to learn and speak Sanskrit. Please start by doing it yourselves and showing the rest of us. It’s so easy right? Let Irani give a speech in Parliament in Sanskrit that she wrote herself. Let’s see her start conversing with her kids (if she has them) in Sanskrit. With her husband. Let’s see how she herself can incorporate Sankrit into her daily life.

Come on, show us. I want to see this miracle happen. So easy to say “Learn Sanksrit”. The fuck. Are you high? Do have any clue what it takes to learn and become fluent in a language? Is she really this stupid, or just pretending? I have no clue…

Learn Sanskrit my foot. It’s a dead language for a reason. When no one around you speaks it, you’re not going to get fluent, let me tell you.

We never see Europeans clamoring for people to learn Latin. What is this stupid obsession with Sanskrit? You think it’s an Indian language? Not anymore it isn’t. Let it go. You’re just making fools of yourselves.

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