Bangalore university students say 'nyet' to Russian

No takers

Considered a passport to better life during the cold war years, Russian is now struggling to find takers.

Bangalore University’s Centre for Global Languages which offers certificate, diploma, higher diploma, advanced diploma, and master’s courses in 10 foreign languages is yet to find a single student for its Russian programme.

And this despite the fact that the Centre had extended the last date for admission.

According to K Eresi, Chairman of the Centre, their programme in Russian has been losing its popularity over the years. “We offer mainly add-on courses whose classes are run in the evening and on the weekends. Normally, students opt for languages which are in demand and preferred by the information technology and other industries. Since, Russian has probably none of the above privileges, its popularity is on the wane,” Prof Eresi told Deccan Herald.

Although BU’s Russian programme is not supported by the embassy of that country, it is not plagued by absence of teachers. “We have teachers who are ready to teach Russian but lack of students has put a question mark on the course’s future,” he added.

The most widely spoken of the Slavic languages, Russian has 278 million speakers all over the world and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. But as August 5, the last date for admission went past, 2010-11 will go down as a ‘dark academic year’ for Russian.

Following in Russian’s footsteps is Finnish, a major language of the Scandinavian countries. Not a single student evinced interest to learn it, Eresi says.

The 25-year-old Centre's efforts for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with cellphone giant Nokia to teach Finnish also fell flat. He, however, hopes that the programme will attract learners in the years to come.

Linguistic powerhouses

In contrast, the demand for courses in Portuguese and Italian has steadily gone north.
Compared to the last academic year, these programmes have seen a rise in enrollment. While 20 students against an intake of 30 have enrolled for Portuguese, Italian found as many as 25 students.

“Response to these languages is tremendous,” Eresi said. French, German, and Spanish, however, continue to be “linguistic powerhouses”.

Even courses in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese have also seen many candidates. Well, the equation of power has truly changed now.

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